Mandy Berman Recommends...

“We all know that we are supposed to read the greats in order to become great. But who has the time? During the day, I toggle between writing and being constantly distracted from writing: via e-mails, texts, or Twitter. I find it nearly impossible to stop in the middle of the day and pick up a book. I’m never fully present—the pull to get back to the task at hand (or, frankly, to my phone) is too strong. So, as a bona fide night owl, I do my best, most productive reading late at night. After 11:30 PM, I put my phone on airplane mode for the night and dig in. I always read with a pen in hand: underlining beautiful passages, and marking places where the writer does something particularly ingenious. Just the other evening, I read Philip Roth’s Goodbye, Columbus (Houghton Mifflin, 1959), in one post-midnight sitting. I was engrossed in the doomed young romance between Neil and Brenda, but more importantly, studying Roth’s mastery of dialogue, story, and language, with nothing else to distract me, made me eager to get up the next morning and get back to writing. Even if you’re not an insomniac like me, find a way to study the greats sans distractions. Focused reading is both invaluable and difficult to come by, but it will remind you why you decided to pursue this art in the first place.”
—Mandy Berman, author of Perennials (Random House, 2017)