The only books I give up on are texts where the writer's attention is concentrated so heavily on narrative questions that his or her use of language becomes careless.
I think some people think that writers read and read and read, get the information, and then write. That's not how it works. Often, you write yourself into a dark place where you don't know what you need to know, so you go get the information.
Pretty much every night of their lives, my 8-year-old sons have absorbed themselves entirely in books. As toddlers, they pointed out pictures, made conjectures; lately, we find them in their bunk beds embarked upon two-hour comic-reading benders.
For me, the natural world is always telling big stories about humongous scales of time. And I often feel simultaneously terrified and humbled by those scales and in awe, and delighted that I get to be here; that I'm lucky enough, that we are lucky enough to get experience these things for the tiny finger snap of time that we get to be on Earth.
I don't believe in reincarnation. I feel like we're here for such an appallingly brief period of time. I believe we each get this one trip, and if we're really, really fortunate, maybe we get 70 or 80 years on Earth.
In my students, I'm always dispelling the notion that characters come like a light bulb over the head in cartoons. For me, it's like a shapeless big lump of clay. You just build it into something, and then you step back and go, 'That's not right,' hack it apart, put out a new arm, and say, 'Maybe this will walk around and work.'
I feel like you are allowed in fiction to embrace imagination and try to enter other worlds. And I feel like you should push yourself to try to persuade your reader that you have the authority to engage with people who, you know, lived in the past, who live in the future, other genders, other places, other cultures.
My mom was a high school science teacher for decades. She just never made it feel like we had to choose between the arts and the sciences. We had bookshelves full of novels, and she also had Rachel Carson and Aldo Leopold and Carl Sagan.