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Cogito Ergo Scribit is where I write about writing. I'm a writer with more than a decade of experience, and I'd like to lend my experience to others while I continue to learn myself.

Everything here is copyright Carrie L. Eckles unless otherwise stated.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Who is your Agatha Christie?

Me? I constantly read Agatha Christie novels. My mother was who put me onto them. At first, my teachers were weary of it, as the books tend to be a bit advanced for a kid from Alabama. But, do you know what happened? My sixth grade teacher moved up to seventh grade, so I had her for reading that year again. When she tested my reading, after having read Ms. Christie's extraordinary collection of suspense for the past year, she was startled by something. I went from having a 9th grade reading level (considered slightly better than average for an 11-year-old) to having a college-age reading level. I had the highest score in the school.

So, what's my point in all of this? Though it may seem the contrary, it's not to brag. My point is that what we read growing up really shapes us. Not only does it expand our vocabularies, but it also serves to frame our tastes and our literary standards. And, if we're lucky, it feeds our passion to learn to be better writers.

I definitely count Agatha Christie among the authors who has made me a better writer. She's really high up there on that list. And I want you to think and tell me: who is your Agatha Christie? Who did you read growing up (or even as an adult) that made you become a better writer while they held you in thrall with their words?

Whoever that person is, it's time to revisit them. That's exactly what I've done. I just finished reading The Affair at Styles day before yesterday and now I'm about to finish The Secret Adversary. And, do you know what? I'm more in thrall now than I ever was before. I appreciate her writing so much more now than I did when I was younger; I had so much admiration for her then that I wouldn't have thought that possible, but there it is. To this day, her writing captivates me the way it has always done, and I'm in awe of that lady's accomplishments. Truly, she was a mind that I wish I had known; though she's long dead, her books survive and allow us to peep into her brain in a very entertaining way.

So, I ask you again, who is your Agatha Christie?


Al said...

I can't pin down one author. The I certainly read every Agatha Christie I could get when I was young. Roesemary Sutcliffe was probably more important to me when I was a child and then John Wyndham and George Orwell as I got older.

Graham Moody said...

Herman Melville, Charles Dickens, George Orwell, Lewis Carroll.

PrettySiren said...

It's so interesting, actually, because all of us tended to be more into the "classic" writers when we were young. The first popular fiction I read was Harry Potter, and I didn't start reading it til I was fourteen. By that time, the fourth book had come out. lol

Graham Moody said...

I have heard from my daughters that the Harry Potter books were good. Not literate, but entertaining. A good education would have the young reader study Latin, read Julius Caesar, Aristotle, Tacitus, Herodotus, St. Augustine, and then on and on.
Agatha Christie's mystery crown was taken over by P.D. James, lovingly but definitely.

PrettySiren said...

I've never read (or heard of) P.D. James. However, I do agree about the Latin bit. It's an important language.

Graham Moody said...

P.D. James has a character who reappears, Commander Adam Dalgliesh, Chief Superintendent of Scotland Yard. He is an interesting fellow who is a poet as well as a detective. Her mysteries are very literate and fascinating.
For literate thrillers there are two who are at the top of my list: James Lee Burke and Martin Cruz Smith. Both have distinctive characters who solve those tricky murders. Burke is notable in that his characters are very disreputable, but described in the most soaring prose.

PrettySiren said...

That actually sounds rather interesting. I've been wanting to read more thrillers. I'll keep them in mind. =D