Sep 17

Reading Lately: September 2017

Today I’m linking up with Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy fame to talk about what I’ve been reading lately.

NOTE: This post contains affiliate links. This means that I’ll receive a small commission if you happen to purchase one of the books I mention — at no extra cost to you. 

Reading Lately: September 2017

Original photo by Kari Shea

Admittedly, my reading has slowed down considerably since the summer. Do any other teachers out there feel personally victimized by the school year? Like, yeah. I want to shape the young minds of America, but I also need to escape into two epic fantasies, one romance, and some post-WWII fiction each week to stay sane.

The things I give up for those students…

Anyway, on with what I’ve been reading lately.

Reading Lately: September 2017 Click To Tweet

Reading Lately

Girl Walks into a Book: What the Bröntes Taught Me Life, Love, and Women’s Work by Miranda K. Pennington
Admittedly, I started this one during the summer, but didn’t finish it until fairly recently. That isn’t because it wasn’t good or that I didn’t like it. In fact, I loved everything about it. However, after the breakup, I’d been kind of in a weird place mentally, and the level of introspection in this book made me think too damn much about my own life for the state of mind I was in. However, once I finally got my head on straight and was able to finish it, I loved it. My good friend and Lit Gang leader, Mike, sent me a copy. Pennington writes about her lifelong love of Jane Eyre and Charlotte Brönte, and how it shaped her as a person. She’s so frank and honest about life and love and the complications of relationships, and how the Bröntes LITERALLY TAUGHT US EVERYTHING WE NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THAT OMG WHY HAVEN’T I PAID MORE ATTENTION.

One side effect of reading this book is that you begin to wonder about what book it is that has completely shaped who you are as a person, and what book is always there for your when you need a guiding light. I’m not ashamed to say that mine is The Hobbit.


Reading Lately

Reading People: How Seeing the World Through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel
Early I did a full review and talked about how writer’s can use Reading People to shape characters and conflict. As a member of the launch team for this book, I was really excited to get a copy. And if you’re the type of person who wants to know more about personality types in layman’s terms, I can’t recommend this book enough.


Reading Lately

The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham
The structure of this book was interesting, in that the author did something that I would generally think of as inadvisable, but it virtually made the story. Halfway through the book, I thought to myself, “You know, I know the town people better than I know the main character.” But the book kind of relies on you HATING the town’s people to an immense degree, so this had to be done. Also, the protagonist’s backstory is revealed at a really frustrating pace, but when you finally get everything about her back story, the ending pay off is perfect. More books should end by burning the patriarchy to the ground.


Reading Lately

The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell
The novel starts with two sisters burying their parents in the backyard of their house in Glasgow. And if that shakes you a bit, just know that by the end of the book, you’ll wish the girls would’ve buried their parents a lot sooner. Marnie is a teenager dealing with love, drugs, and all the big things that kids in an urban environment often deal with. Nelly, her little sister, has developed all manner of personality quirks to deal with their terrible life situation so she can escape it as much as possible. I fell in love with these two girls, and their neighbor, Lennie, who steps in to help the girls in anyway he can. If it sounds sappy, it ain’t. This book is a black comedy through and through, and I loved every last minute of it.

Additionally, I’m currently making my through It by Stephen King (and I anticipate finishing this thousand-page monstrosity sometime in 2067) and Code Red: Know Your Flow, Unlock Your Super Powers and Create a Bloody Amazing Life. Period. by Lisa Lister. (Check out Marie’s review of that one!)

What have you been reading lately? Click To Tweet

What about you? What are you reading?

Aug 17

Reading People by Anne Bogel: A Personality Handbook for Fiction Writers

I was selected as a member of the launch team for Reading People by Anne Bogel, and I was really excited to dive in. I received a free advanced copy of the book in exchange for some social media buzz and bloggy love.

Reading People by Anne Bogel is a great book for writers who want to learn about different personalities they can give their characters.

Full disclosure: I’ve never been into personality typing, and the book is basically a survey course in the subject. I’d read little things about personality types, but I never cared. In fact, in high school we had to take a personality test to determine what sort of major we should pick in college. (I think it was a cheap knock-off of the Myers-Briggs test.) The result I got was writer or teacher, which was no surprise to me then. Basically, I’m so introverted and spend so much time digging around inside my head that I always know what I want.

(I do get fairly irritated when people say they don’t know what they want, though. LIKE HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?! YOU LIVE WITH YOURSELF. SIT DOWN AND FIGURE IT OUT.)

Anyway. Here I am now, working as a writer and a teacher. Thanks, cut-rate MBTI test from high school!

Did you have to take the poor man's MBTI test in high school? Click To Tweet

So all of this probably sounds like I’m the worst possible person to review Reading People.


Here’s the deal. As a writer, I’m enamored with different personalities. I create characters that get to play off one another, and I have to understand how different personalities can clash. (I’ve even thought about what kind of character I’d like to be in fiction!)

Reading People by Anne Bogel

Sure, you could create a story with some tired archetypes — “I wonder how this uptight librarian might converse with a swashbuckling pirate?” While I’ve never read that particular story before, I’d really want those characters to be more than just two stereotypes. Instead, you could look to the different personality types and the tests used for quantifying them to get the most out of your characters and conflict.

And that is why I’m wholeheartedly endorsing Reading People by Anne Bogel as a writer’s field guide for creating new and different characters.

What makes Reading People different?

I took a personality psychology class in grad school, and to say it was arduous was an understatement. But I really enjoyed making my way through Reading People. Why? Well here’s the thing about Anne Bogel’s writing: It’s like watching your favorite PBS show. (If PBS were to create a show about drinking warm beverages and talking about books, I’d recommend Anne to host. PBS hasn’t contacted me to discuss this, but I thought I’d throw this out there.)

Anne is always informative AND friendly. She doesn’t talk down to you in her book or on her blog, ModernMrsDarcy.com. In fact, her style is basically like meeting with a friend for coffee and just chatting.

And the kicker here for all you bookish fiends — my homegirl doesn’t just explain the personality types using basic descriptions. She tells you which of your favorite characters fit into what types! It’s the best because not only do you start to really see what the different personality frameworks mean, but since you’ve already been in that character’s head (if you’ve read the book), you get that insight into the personality type she’s describing!

Reading People by Anne Bogel

Why do fiction writers need Reading People?

For me, one of the biggest things I struggle with is making my characters fully-formed humans. Sure, my protagonist is fleshed out to the max, so much so that sometimes I see them on the street when I’m walking to work. But my others characters?

Not so much.

Reading People by @AnneBogel is a good resource for creating characters! #ReadingPeopleBook Click To Tweet

Stories need characters, and those characters have to experience conflicts. And what better way to figure out how to get two characters to butt heads than by figuring out which personality types butt heads?

So in order to figure out how my protagonist would interact with others, it’s great to have access to all those personality frameworks in an enjoyable-to-read book. Also, you’d be hard-pressed to find another book that covers introversion vs. extroversion, highly sensitive people, the Five Love Languages, Keirsey’s Temperaments, the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator, the Clifton StrengthsFinder, and the Enneagram. This book is functionally a complete survey of the topic.

For example, I’ve been working on a scene in a novel where there is a lot of tension between a two characters who obviously like each other, but struggle expressing that to the other person in a way that they other person responds to. I made one of the characters a words of affirmation love language, and the other one is a physical touch love language.

(Clearly my characters need to read this book too so we can get over the tension and just get on with the story!)

And while this isn’t something I state in the actual text, it’s there in the planning and plotting phases to help me craft the story.

How can you get your hands on Reading People by Anne Bogel?

Reading People doesn’t come out until September 19 so you should pre-order now. If you pre-order, you get the audiobook free — read by Anne — and the online “What’s Your Reading Personality?” class.

Reading People by Anne Bogel

Have you pre-ordered your copy of #ReadingPeopleBook by @AnneBogel yet? Click To Tweet

So, tell me. What’s your favorite personality typing framework? What two personality types would you like to see in conflict in fiction? Did you also have to take the poor man’s MBTI test in high school?