I think we are going to have to wait a few days to begin our next novel, Cherish Farrah. I've been on the road this week, heading home from Maine, and time / energy to write has been short / low.
And while the first page of Cherish Farrah is full -- absolutely full -- of craft tips to ponder, and it would be easy to craft a quick newsletter discussing one of them, I feel like I also, in addition, have to talk about how I think we should approach the book.
That sort of "framework" writing takes more time than I have today, sadly, as I sit at the living room table in a delightfully British-themed Airbnb cottage, here in the city of Columbus, Ohio.
My plan is to send "today's" newsletter on Tuesday, to catch up, and then another on Friday. How does that sound?
Right now, I wondered if we could have an overall "open thread" about our experience of Reading with Daniel so far.
1. Would you read the sequel to Jade City? Why -- why not?
2. What do you think about RWD and how would you like me to improve it?
3. Several members of RWD have asked if we can, in the future, read a novel of ideas and inspiration. Less plot and more big picture, more heart warming, thought provoking. One novel that has come up a couple of times in these conversations is Matt Haig's The Midnight Library. Another novel I think might fit the bill is The Overstory by Richard Powers -- but I wonder if that might fall into the category of a "difficult" read (ie something we would do as an addition to RWD's main schedule). Do you have a preference between these two books?
So far I’m learning a lot and I’m really happy.
If I had plenty of spare time, I probably would read the sequel to Jade City. However, I have books backing up on my kindle waiting to be read, and I’m trying to spend more time writing, so I’ll probably read books in my genre instead.
I write thriller/mystery/crime. It would be nice if we could read a book in this genre at some stage please.
I would be interested to read The Midnight Library.
I hadn’t heard of The Overstory before this morning, but it’s definitely now on my TBR! It gets my vote. (Though I’ve read The Midnight Library and found it wonderful too.)
1. Yes, I read all three. I may read the whole series again. It was great.
2. RWD was well presented. I think it went at a good pace and illustrated some very important concepts in a clear and concise way.
3. If you’re talking about ideas and inspiration as they relate to craft and how writers approach or present them, I think that sounds marginally productive. But I have zero interest in talking about the meaning of life, etc.
Could you message me privately about your take on the series? I don’t know how to instigate a private message, I’m hoping you do 🙂
Sorry. I didn’t see this right away. I can’t figure out how to turn on notifications, if there is such a thing. I don’t know how to message privately, either. But perhaps we can friend each other. My Facebook account is: https://www.facebook.com/jennifer.rupp.9803
Please take all the time you need Daniel; the particular family holiday you are enjoying can never be exactly duplicated, but our book will still be there waiting for us when we are all ready.
No, at the moment I would not read the sequel to “Jade City” because there are too many good books waiting for me to read that I feel more comfortable with. But if the Jade sequel was set as the next RWD book, yes I would read it and know I would gain a wealth of writing knowledge from your teaching.
“The Midnight Library” is a beautiful book and may be the best choice to please everyone in the group. However, I would absolutely love to read “The Overstory” with your teaching and in this group. Please, let’s do that at some time?
I won’t read the sequels of Jade City. I didn’t enjoy the first one.
I learn a lot with Reading with Daniel. I would have ditched Jade City if I had read it on my own.
Both The Midnight Library and The Overstory are appealing. I’m not bothered by « difficult » novels.
1. Would you read the sequel to Jade City? Why—why not?
Yes, absolutely. I’m completely immersed in Anden’s story and I want to know what happens to him in Books 2 and 3.
2. What do you think about RWD and how would you like me to improve it?
You’ve done an amazing job unpacking universal techniques RWD members should master, then apply to their own writing.
The weekly deep dives you took into writing dialogue; slowing the pace to create a story that titillates—and foreshadows; drawing on the power of 3rd person; balancing multiple POVs; and the six-step breakdown of writing stellar scenes (among many others) were beyond helpful.
I don’t know how you could improve your targeted weekly craft insights. I just know I’d love to read more of them.
3. Several members have asked if we can read a novel of ideas and inspiration. One novel possibility is Matt Haig’s THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY. Another novel is THE OVERSTORY by Richard Powers. Do you have a preference between these two books?
The book blurb for THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY hooked me immediately:
“When the death of her cat proves the final straw, Nora decides to check out on life, and finds herself at the Midnight Library. ‘Even death was something Nora couldn’t do properly, it seemed.’”
A book that focuses on the choices (good or bad) that we make in life—and the ones we didn’t—intrigues me. Especially since reader reviews claim Haig’s book is written in a wry, witty manner. Any book that critics hail as “charming,” “funny” and a “brainy, captivating pleasure” sounds like something I’d love to read.
SIGN ME UP.
1. I probably will read the sequel to Jade City. Honestly, I haven’t finished Jade City yet because I’ve been dealing with a death in the family and all that’s involved. Reading hasn’t been a priority. I normally don’t care for this type of book, but I’m intrigued by the use of Jade energy, so plan to read more.
2. I’m really liking the way you’re doing this program. Even behind in the reading, I got a lot out of reading your comments.
3. Either of those books suggested would be wonderful. My work always delves into big ideas and meaning-of-life topics, so I would love to analyze how other writers do this successfully.
I want to read the sequel to Jade City. I want to see what happens with the clan war and how Bero fits into it. I hate his character for what he did to Lan and for taking Lan’s jade, but I’m interested in what happens to him. I really like Hilo, so I want to see him shine at Pillar. I enjoyed Jade City. It was a captivating break from the books I usually read.
I like RWD so far and your comnents really make me think. Will have to go back through them slowly to fully absorb them.
RWD has been instructive. I’ve enjoyed the insights, particularly character deepening. Jade City was useful as a tool for teaching. I found the powers of jade intriguing. I vote for The Midnight Library or The Overstory. I’ve read Overstory and I’d like to read it again having it analyzed from a writer’s POV. As a side note, I wish I could read all books twice. I get so much more out of the second reading. Regarding RWD overall, I’d give it a nine on a scale of one to 10, 10 being best. Thanks for the opportunity to comment.
I also have not quite finished Jade City though I’ve enjoyed it. Also been diverted by a vacation and just taking care of life. I will finish it very soon. I think I would be inclined to read the sequel as I have enjoyed the book so far, but I am with others who say that I have so many other books to read that maybe I will need to leave my Jade friends for now.
I’ve really enjoyed your insights, Daniel. I’m happy with the club. I probably will not read Cherish Farrah, as it just doesn’t sound like one I want to put in my head. Comments about readers about “continuing to scream” after they read it, etc.. I’m sure it’s good craft, but I am a retired trauma therapist, and I have learned that for me, I need to have some care about what I put in my head in order to take care of myself. For some horror is soothing. For me, not so much. There is so much in the world now that is deeply disturbing. Though I won’t read the book, I will read your comments on it. I know I can still learn just from reading your comments.
I would be interested in Midnight Library.
Enjoy the rest of your vacation. I am potentially headed toward Maine this Fall to see the leaves. Though I’m behind in my planning and may be too late for this year. I’ve wanted to see the Northeast US for quite some time.
I won’t read the sequels of Jade City, even though I liked the first one after I overcame the bland first chapter where nothing hooked me to read further. I had no problem with the writing and I liked your comments, but there wasn’t the depth there that’s in novels like “A Gentleman in Moscow” or “The Lincoln Highway.” Don’t get me wrong I love sci fi and fantasy — “The Martian” and “Dust,” to name a few that come to mind, really drew me in. I’ve read both the books you’re proposing and really liked them. “Difficult” reads usually mean, to me at least, more literary and more depth and they’re worth reading. Thanks for this “class.”
I agree with others who say take your time and enjoy your vacation and precious time with your family.
I don’t think I will read the next book of Jade City…I was surprised at how much I got into it and enjoyed your commentary and insights on the writing. But now that it’s done, it’s done.
I like RWD and your approach to it and writing in general, so keep it up!
Of the 2 books you mentioned, I’d prefer Matt Haig’s book, only because I’ve already started it and love it!
Thanks for all you do, Daniel.
1. Already bought the sequel, super excited to get into it and am stalking the IMDb page for the television show in pre-production.
For this first round of RWD I didn’t dove into the community and the threads like I had originally planned, so I was very surprised to read the email explaining the discussion about the book.
I look at RWD as close reading assistance, so when I am reading the book, I am free to shut off my writer-brain and just dive into story, going along for the plot-driven ride with little critique. At the end of the week, I get my email, and get to go back looking for the lessons within. I wasn’t yet on a hunt for the “what I think is missing” or “things I wish the author would have done” – that would require another visit, or further reflection now that I have finished the book. As a result, since I felt free to release that level of dissection of the book on this read, I got hooked on the world, the plot, and the characters as I know them this far.
2.I am enjoying RWD so far. Any improvements to my experience require more from me, not Daniel. I hope to participate more in the community with book two and take on the writing exercises as well.
3. I read and loved THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY. I could definitely read that again, but I have truly appreciated going into this experience with books I have not known about and/or read before, so, if I were voting I would go for THE OVERSTORY just because it is new to me.
As for the content of the book and it being more difficult on some levels, that’s not an issue for me, but wonder how much more of a toll it would take on you Daniel as you are the one doing the deep doves each week. In other words, if you’re up to it, so am!
1. Would you read the sequel to Jade City? Why — why not?
-Jade City was a gripping and enjoyable read for me. I loved the world of jade that the author created. I would like to read the sequels at some point.
2. What do you think about RWD and how would you like me to improve it?
-I am learning a lot. I tend to rush through books so this helps me focus and pay attention to the craft. Your insights are very thoughtful and I try to incorporate these craft ideas into my writing when possible. I have no suggestions for improvement as I am enjoying it as is. Thank you Daniel! Looking forward to your comments on Cherish Farrah!
3. I would be interested in reading The Midnight Library. I have already read The Overstory and can highly recommend it. I am open to reading a variety of genres.
I’m not going to read the sequels to Jade City, although I bet the second book is better than the first. The first book picked up about halfway through, so I think there’ll be more character consideration and investment throughout the second book. RWD may be nice with a Discord or Slack or live chat element. I’m enjoying the letters and discussions. And I’m down with whatever we read next. It’s kinda fun to have a book chosen for me.
I will probably read the sequels to Jade City since I enjoy stories with adventure and skillful world-building.
I’ve read The Midnight Library, and I would be happy to work on it further.
1. I probably won’t read the sequel to Jade City as I found the first book satisfying on it’s own – except for a bit of curiousity about Anden and reading the excerpt from book 2 at the end took care of that. The genre is somewhat outside of what I normally read and write, and I enjoyed Jade City, but other titles are calling my name.
2. I like RWL a lot. The first weeks were very engaging, and though the craft topics were not new to me, I liked the way they were applied to a specific novel. It sparked ideas for my own writing much better than simply going over the concepts.
3. Both suggested novels are appealing – The Midnight Library sounds slightly more appealing.
Another novel I hear recommended a lot is The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune
First of all, welcome to Columbus. You picked a good weekend to come through – we’ve got sunshine!
1. I already have the other two novels in my wishlist. I knew I would want to read them before I finished this one because I found this one so engaging. I think a lot of it has to do with Lee’s writing style.
2. I admit I’m behind on reading the weeklies even though I kept up with the reading so I’m not the best one to comment here. But What I have read here so far has been educational in the best way possible.
3. Personally I like to read widely and I believe that sometimes looking outside one’s wheelhouse is the best way to learn things, so I’m all for expanding the kinds of books we read. It would be useful to see how craft is interpreted in a variety of genres and writing styles. I already have The Midnight Library on my Mt. TBR and the synopsis for The Overstory looks intriguing, although from the reviews I can see why it might work better as a secondary book.
I don’t think I would read Jade city sequel because it just didn’t really captivate me enough. I found it a little boring. That said, I found your analysis amazing and terrific and loved it. I found I learned a lot about writing through it. In terms of the next books. I would love to read both The Midnight library and overstory with the group. I think they are very different books and I think you would draw out different things from them and I think they’re both terrific. I’m a fan of both. If I had to pick just one, I would pick The Midnight library.
1) While I enjoyed the book, I wouldn’t read the next books. Too much disappointment.
2) I can’t think of anything I think you should do differently.
3) Neither of these books are anything I’d ever read on my own. But, when I signed up for RWD, I knew not all books would be my cup of tea.
However, I can say that I agree with ChristinePrattle, a thriller would be great.
And I am in complete agreement with Jennifer when she said, “If you’re talking about ideas and inspiration as they relate to craft and how writers approach or present them, I think that sounds marginally productive. But I have zero interest in talking about the meaning of life, etc.”
I was unable to resist keeping pace with the group and ended up finishing Jade City before we as a group were halfway. I’ve since. bought and devoured books 2 and 3, and they did not disappoint. I haven’t been this impressed with a series for a long time, and that is priceless.
I enjoyed it so much, I passed my copies on to my Mum (a hard woman to please, especially with books) as I’d talked to her briefly about certain events with heartfelt emotions.
I haven’t heard of either of those books, so I cannot have a preference, and I am not deterred by “difficult” books.
If not for RWD I probably wouldn’t have read Jade City; past books with jade and weak storytelling have left a bad taste in my mouth. Thank you!
Reading Jade City was eye-opening and really spurred writing growth for me. It’s not my usual go to genre but I enjoyed it and will likely read the sequel at some point.
I’m open to either book. Haven’t read them yet.
Re Jade City: Reading it reminded me of my reaction to the Steig Larson books. The first one kept me up all night. Couldn’t put it down. The second one, not so much. By the third, only my completion tendencies kept me going. Although the books were entertaining, they did not linger in my mind. I would not read the sequel.
Re suggestions for the course: I have none at the moment. I do think it is possible to learn writing techniques from books that may not be written in the genre or style you prefer. Also, I think it is likely impossible to find ANY book that everyone in the course will like.
Re what’s next? I’ve read The Overstory but would love to reread it and hear your comments. I have not yet read The Midnight Library.
I’m glad your family holiday has been so good, Daniel. It’s very important to make the time and energy available for your family. Your questions:
I wouldn’t read the sequel to Jade City. I’ve enjoyed the teaching that came out of the reading but epic novels are not really my thing.
I would like either of the choices – as an ex-psychologist I’m fascinated by people so novels that have complex characters are my favourite.
I’m really enjoying this format – reading then analysing. Learning lots.
1. No. I wasn’t too impressed with that book, although you did provide some really great insights.
2. I’m enjoying the RWD and I got the new book in audible. Not sure how that’s going to work out. But I will listen to it this week on a road trip.
3. I’m going to say The Overstory because I love nature but I’ve never heard of either of these books. Still…they both sound very interesting.
Jade City is in a genre I do not normally read but I enjoyed the narrative, the characters, the pacing, and the world-building (which I found so close to yet so different from our own). And part of the enjoyment was the enlightening close readings you offer, Daniel. The only reason I might not read the sequel(s) is the length (like everyone here, I’m sure, I have piles of other reading to get to).
I have read both Midnight Library and The Overstory and what vastly different texts! After so much hype, I was disappointed in Midnight Library, finding it more trite and unbelievable than profound (that was my expectation anyway). But as I did not read it as a writer and I trust I would learn something from the experience of exploring it in this community, I would read it again here. The Overstory was one of the most engaging and well-crafted novels I have ever read (I somehow had never read Powers before and after reading The Overstory recently just got his latest novel, Bewilderment) and I would be happy to delve into it again in this context. It is a headier and heavier read than Midnight Library but not a difficult one, I don’t think.
Yes, I would read the sequels to Jade City. I have read the second and have just started the third. Thank you for choosing Jade City. I loved it and have learned so much about creating characters that readers love.
RWD has helped me focus on great books/stories and take time to analyze them. I had not done that for a long time. I love your insight and will be happy to follow along in whatever way RWD develops.
I don’t know either of the books you mention and have no preference.
Hi, second question first: I love how you do this course! I can’t think of a better way to do it.
Only thing I hope for is that not all book choices are literary or heavy.
I would have never chosen Jade city, but it was not only an interesting read thanks to your emails, I learned a lot.
I considered reading the sequels, but after reading the open pages of book 3, I am sure I won’t enjoy the story much, because it seems to become darker and darker and even more gritty than book 1. Well, one should expect that from a clan war triology, right?
I am nervous about Cherish Farah. Social Horror is something I abhor normally, so this will become a very hard read for me. And the setting and the protagonist is not calling to me either ( I read one third of the novel as of now). Nonetheless it is well written, I think, and I am curious of what lessons can be learned from it.
But I truly hope the next read is a happy one. Midnight Library sounds interesting, but The Overstory does not interest me at all, sorry.
I found Daughter of the Moon Goddess to be an uplifting read so far, and it really has a very unique writing style and voice and I do not know exactly what to make of it, so I would love to read it here, too.
And I would also like to read a mystery novel and a romance at some point, because I want to write this genres and would be interested to see books in those genres that are executed well and learn from them.
1. I will read the next book to see how the story progresses and how the author pays off promises made. Although I didn’t find it a page turner, I still enjoyed visiting Janloon and spending time with the characters.
2. The newsletters are great, and far more detailed than i thought they’d be. It’s also really interesting to see what others have commented on.
I’d be interested in a summary of thoughts reflecting back on the book once complete. i.e. what should we focus on in re-reading? Is there anything that jumps out or is different to what you thought when reading through, now the book is finished?
3. The Midnight Library hooked me a little more, but I’m happy to follow whatever book is chosen.
No I will not be reading any more about Jade power. I did not enjoy the book….far too many characters with too many ways of addressing each one. It took me ages to commit them to memory. I don’t enjoy power struggles either.
Having said that RWD has taught me a great deal. I would never have unpacked a novel in such a way. It has shown me ways to enhance my own writing. Now when I pick up a novel I start to think about the way it has been written rather than just reading for the story although that remains my prime reason for reading. Too much dissection,for me, detracts from the flow of the book.
I have read the Midnight Library but would like to see how you deal with it but I don’t mind if you choose the other. Thank you Daniel for your time.
1- I will probably read the next one. I liked the multiple-POV approach.
2- I enjoy RWD and have learned a lot. I don’t comment often because I don’t have the time.
The recorded reports from you I don’t listen to. An inconvenient format for me.
3-I would be interested in The Midnight Library. But MORE interested in The Overstory.
Thanks for all your writing suggestions. Quite useful for me.
As I’m writing my memoir, I’ve been reading mostly memoirs. I find these full of sad childhoods—I imagine, like me, others write memoirs to help process their childhoods—so I was more than ready to be entertained by the fictional Jade City and read it more for fun than to analyze craft. I was, however, more than glad to have DDW explain the craft going on in the novel. HIs analysis seemed accurate, and I found it applicable and helpful in my own work. Yes, I’d like to do The Overstory with him.
Like others above, I’ve learnt heaps and I’m happy with the pace and content.
I liked Jade City, but I think I will prioritise other books. I don’t enjoy violence on the page, and I’m sure there’s plenty more nastiness to come in the sequels, which puts me off.
I haven’t read ‘Midnight Library’ but I like the sound of it. I gave ‘Overstory’ a go a while back – great conceptually, but the reading experience was like watching tree rings grow, very slow, more circular than forward moving. So I vote ‘Midnight Library’.
1. I really enjoyed reading Jade City, not the type of book I would usually read, and reserved the following two volumes from the library. Tellingly, I have not read them, and will probably return them unread as I have so many books lined up to read that I will enjoy more, and I am so close to finishing my first draft to my novel. It is just about time, or lack of it!
2. I have found RWD very instructive and helpful. Breaking down the structure of the writing has helped me in my own writing and I find myself more aware of how I write and incorporating different techniques to improve it.
3. I have not read either of two suggested books and would be quite happy to delve into which ever you chose. Certainly reading and analysing a different genre would be of interest to me.
My vote is for The Midnight Library. I have not read either book, but I prefer the blurb for The Midnight Library.
I have found the craft lessons very helpful indeed and I like the way you pick on certain detailed aspects and explore the techniques. Studying with you at the paragraph and sentence level is very useful, but also the big picture about number of pov’s, etc.
I found Jade City not to my taste – too unwieldy and complex and too many viewpoints but, to be fair, I am not generally a fantasy reader. I would not read the sequel.
Thanks for your great work.
I wish I would have had more time during the last month to continually read and work with you at the same pace. I hope to catch up in the next weeks on what you have worked on with Jade City. Because I will NOT read Cherish Farrah. I have read the blurb and the extract on Amazon and this is just too dark and disturbing for me. I like to read socially and culturally aware books, though. How about Susan deFreitas “Hot Season”? Haven’t read it, but sounds interesting.
As for your suggested ones, I would much like to read The Midnight Library. It sounds truly appealing to me. The Overstory sounds like a great literary work, too, but seems a difficult read on 500 pages…
Life got in the way yet again. I’m trying so hard to get back to reading after college. College destroyed my love of reading for pleasure. I fell behind and will try to catch up or just jump onboard for the next one. I will not give up on returning to reading. It has been years since I graduated but that’s why I am RWD, so I can learn to enjoy reading again instead of seeing it as another chore.
1. Yes I am planning to read the sequel. I loved the build up and the fact that so many questions were left unanswered. I am curious to see how all those storylines get developed in the sequel and also I think it would be lovely to read them before the TV series is out to compare.
2. I like RWD a lot. Feels like a chill reading club but every lesson has a deep significance and it has impacted the way I approach my writing in a positive manner. I think being able to comment for each section is really helpful as we all have different perspectives on the same book.
3. I would choose The Overstory as it feels more complex. I am planning to write literary fiction and this one feels like it hits close to what I’m attempting to write
1.) Yes I will likely read the rest of the series, but it’s not a top priority on my TBR. Too many books to read, too little time. I enjoyed the story and loved the new perspectives I gained on character plots, plot structure, and more through reading it more deeply.
2.) I’ve enjoyed it so far. I didn’t go through the experience “live” this time, but plan to do so for the next novels.
3.) Huge preference for The Midnight Library. It’s been on my TBR forever and I’ve had a copy in my bookshelf for months but just haven’t gotten around to reading it.
Midnight Library, please! 😀
I love fantasy, but I didn’t like Jade City. I had no attachment or concern for any of the protagonists, but not all books are for everyone!
I like the lesson a lot. I found them full with great insightful and “between the lines” meaning, which is what I was hoping to learn here.
Either book will be fine with me.
1. I am so behind I have not yet finished Jade City. It only takes me this long to finish a book when I don’t particularly care how it ends up so I doubt I’ll read the next two unless the ending is phenomenal.
2. I do love RWD though, even though I’m behind. Thank you so much for doing this!!!
3. I found Midnight Library to be very cliche and expected and because it felt so “on the nose,” I struggled to enjoy it. Maybe there’s more to it that I missed, but I do feel it might be nicer to study a book that doesn’t feel so obvious, if that makes sense (then again, I also learned amazing things from books I did not like because I had to look for what made it popular so that might help too.) if you’re looking for suggestions, TJ Klune has written some beautiful, uplifting books that aren’t as on the nose and cliche, though I know you didn’t ask for suggestions. Under the Whispering Door touching on similar themes but in what I feel is a more creative way.
1) Will eventually read the entire series. I’m interested in Shae, her schemes and counterattack. Anden, less so. He was such a stalwart No Peak, so committed—I think his story is going awry. In a book about territory and a fight for the control of magic, it’s the characters that keep me hooked. Daniel’s ‘character first’.
2) Happy—I reread many of the lessons and people’s comments. Not sure if the mechanics of this site will allow it, but I’d love to be able to view how many new comments are posted since my last visit. Subscribing to comments fills up my inbox with partial quotes so doesn’t quite cut it.
3) Midnight Library
1. Would I read the Jade City sequel?
No, I didn’t find the characters sufficiently engaging and I also felt the author let the characters down (by which I mean, I don’t feel the characters’ actions perfectly matched their selves as I understood them from the novel).
2. What do I think of RWD and any ideas for improvement?
It’s good, and your analyses seem very insightful to me. It’s also very interesting to read other people’s reactions and insights.
The only thing I can think improvement-wise is a small thing: if or when there is a deadline to complete an exercise (or more likely, a possibility to have people commenting and discussing at the same time), it would be good to know that well in advance. Being in a wildly different timezone means I often feel I missed the party, or I arrived too early. 🙂
3. I looked up both suggested books and read a little inside on Amazon. Both look equally interesting to me. My first impression is that The Overstory might be more interesting for the ideas than for the writing craft, but that may just be my leaning more toward character than literary writing. The Midnight Library feels like a light style with engaging characters and might have some deep ideas served up in a light and enjoyable way.
Another contender for such a read might be The Princess Bride by William Goldman. That was delightful in its own way as the movie of the book was in its.
Re: Daniel’s remark about the unreliable narrator in Cherish Farah. I like to distinguish between the unreliable narrator and the truth of the story. Sometimes it is the most unreliable narrator who can best bring out the truth of the story.