Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Spice of Variety

Most writers are also voracious readers. We love the written word and not only when we're the one penning, I mean typing, it. Visit your favorite author's blog regularly and sooner or later you're going to read about her TBR pile. That means To Be Read for you lucky folks who read every book as soon as you get it. I have a small stack compared to some people I know. I glanced at it before starting this post, thinking about which book I might start next. Not that I'm ready to start another one.
Currently I have two different fantasy novels started. The Wells of Ascension is the second book in Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series. He's a must read writer if you love fantasy. The other fantasy novel is the fourth and final book in a series by Greg Keyes. The Born Queen is wrapping up his series, The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone. I usually don't read two of the same genre at the same time. More likely if I'm reading two books one is a fantasy, my favorite, and the other is either a romance or a suspense novel. I even through an occasional horror or even a western in there as well as a literary offering. I have some favorite authors in all those genres but am open to trying new ones. My daughter even talks me into sampling her young adult books.
I believe it's important for an author to venture outside their chosen genre in her reading. Reading suspense has taught me to make my own story telling more edgy. Reading romance helps me keep my dialogue interesting and realistic. The few literary titles I select remind me how school reading requirements need revamped but also often introduce me to dark insights into human nature I can incorporate into my characters. The young adult books remind me how each chapter must move the story forward or you'll lose your audience quicker than your teen can text message 'r u maken food 4 nune?'
So what do you think? Is it important for an author to read across the spectrum or does it make a better romance writer to read only romance? Should a fantasy author stick with their own area? There are hundreds of books I would read if I had time. Do you as an author read what you don't write/


  1. The more widely a writer reads the better. How else does a writer happen upon use of language and craft that gets her thinking about things that would work for her?

    Acutally, I don't think I've ever met a writer who only reads one type of book. My experience has been that writers start out as voracious readers of anything and everything and that very little happens to change that.

  2. I definitely read outside the genre I write. I just blogged about the future expansion of my tbr pile because the ALA posted its list of banned and challenged books of 2008. (Next week is Banned Book Week)

    It's odd for me, too, to be reading two from the same genre at the same time. Though it has happened once or twice.

    Great insight into the benefits of diverse reading for a writer, Sue. Spot on as usual!

  3. Mostly I read fantasy, which is what I write. I read other genres, especially now, since I created a bookstore to sell my books and I read all of my publisher's books, so that I can sell them more effectively. But I think paying proper attention to just the everyday experiences of my life is a good substitute for reading about it.

  4. it's great to know so many of us 'read around.' Ava, you are a rebel. Guy, I guess as a bookseller you really have to know about all the different genres. And Carolyn, I often catch 'use of language' as you put it and learn from it.

  5. Hey, Marc! Nice to see you over here! :) (Unless you're a different Author Guy--though it's still nice to see you. :) )

    I actually used to read more widely than I do now. I don't read only one thing, but almost all of it at least contains romance, even the YA I've been reading so much of. And Even though I completely agree that to be their best, an author has to read widely.

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