I am known to be a bookworm. I think all writers are also book-aholics and by being writers we can call all that reading "research".
However recently I realised being a book-aholic did not make me well-read. I have no depth to my knowledge, the last classic I read was Jane Austen sometime back in the mid 1990s. Charles Dickens got ditched after GCSE and a too close acquaintance with Philip Pirrip in 'Great Expectations' (although having a character called Biddy made it a little more palatable).
I haven't read Hardy, Eliot or Lawrence and the Brontes were read back when I was 12. I do have quite a few poetry books ranging from Donne to Brian Patten. I had my F Scott Fitzgerald and Salinger moments as a teenager and I've passed them by ever since.
And when it comes to the modern... ne'er a one has passed my retinas.
This isn't bad. I am not against all those wonderful books that I have devoured with great pleasure It is just that without a working knowledge of some of the other books, without seeing the way language has been used, without flexing a muscle in my brain and pushing myself I feel as if my own writing is getting flabby.
So in an effort to exercise my brain along with my body I have invested in my own "Mind Gym".
The equipment so far:
1 copy of 'Far From the Madding Crowd' by Thomas Hardy
1 copy of 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles' by Thomas Hardy
1 audiobook dramatisation of 'Richard II'
1 audiobook dramatisation of 'Coriolanus'
1 audiobook dramatisation of 'Alls Well That Ends Well'
So far I am halfway through 'Far From The Madding Crowd', I'm enjoying it but it is slow going. My mind isn't used to having to work. 'Richard II' and 'Coriolanius' have both been listened to. They are due another go because I have now dipped into the plays and want to go back and find out what I've missed.
I want to expand the "Mind Gym" so I am open to suggestions. Anyone??