Terry Weyna played Santa early this year and gave me a copy of her husband’s new book, The Daily Reader, in November. Fred White wrote a wonderful book for writers called The Daily Writer that I got for Christmas last year. He included 366 writing exercises, one for each day of the year including leap-day. White added some commentary and, for the overachievers among us, some extra credit assignments as well (some of which were rather daunting, like “Write a novel that uses. . .”).
The Daily Reader is an excellent companion book. White has picked 366 passages from various works—and it’s not all Shakespeare, Dickinson and Heraclitus. He has quotes from Milton Berle, Steven King and Groucho Marx. He picked the passages because they express either an idea or a technique. Each passage is followed by a commentary and a follow-up exercise. Some are writing exercises and some are reading.
Those of you who read Terry’s blog or see her reviews in other venues know just what a catholic and encyclopedic reader she is. This is something she shares with White. The passages and the comments address two of journalism’s famous “five good soldiers;” the why and the how. Why does a passage have meaning? How does it have meaning? If you are a reader, this book will help you deepen your thinking about the books you read, or at least change your slant. If you are a writer, this is a valuable tool for helping you enrich the meaning of your own work. The Daily Reader is not overwhelming because you can literally read one page a day. You are also not bound by the dates and can graze the book to your heart’s content.
I’ve already had an I Ching moment with the book. I’m writing an urban fantasy with a wizard character who practices the Art of Memory. A couple of days ago I was leafing through The Daily Reader and, on a whim, turned to December 23, a random choice, to find a passage from Dale Carnegie on “The Improvement of Memory.”
I am delighted with my copy and recommend the book to anyone wants a gift for the reader/writer on their list—or for those of you who deserve a gift for yourselves.