Tuesday, August 10, 2010

reading, writing and...

...well that's it.

i've been thinking a lot about what writers read versus what they write.

the advice all over the interwebs is clear: be well-read. be especially well-read in your genre.
and i thought i was! surely, i read more than almost anyone i know. but when i see the virtual bookshelves of some folks on goodreads or see the looooong lists of recommended titles by people on blogs or witness other writers taking on challenges like "100 books in a year," my brain goes spinny.

i have never read 100 books in a year. i'm lucky to read a dozen in a single summer, when i cram in the most reading.
and because my reading time is limited (and therefore precious), i confess to reading more of the genres i DON'T write in than the one i do. why? because i enjoy them more.

for me, the best books to lose myself in are Dystopian or Paranormal. they are nothing like what i write, so i give myself permission to just enjoy them - not look at them with a critical eye or compare them to what i'm writing. immersing myself in someone else's made-up world is the greatest form of entertainment.

but i get much more excited writing contemporary teenagers in real-world situations. i like to think, when i write, this could actually be happening to someone somewhere right now.

so it's surprising to me that i don't like reading contemp YA as much. i've certainly read a lot more of it since i started writing it, but i admit that is partly because i am following the excellent advice of others who say to be well-read in your genre - and not because those books actually jumped off the shelf at me.
granted, i have discovered some luscious stories this way and now have many favorites in the contemporary YA genre that i otherwise would not have read. but still, when i walk into a bookstore, i am drawn to the shelves stocked with fantastical beasts and imaginary places. no matter what i write, these books will always be the ones i want to read.

i'm curious to know whether this is true for other authors as well. any of you sci-fi writers out there die-hard fans of a good romance? any horror writers whose favorite books are westerns? and why do you think that is?


E.J. Wesley said...

Hey Erin,

I definitely read outside of my writing genre, but take more 'chances' on material within the YA/middle grade genre. Not a big romance reader, but I've read the Twilight books, Fallen, etc. as homework.

I'm a big Stephen King fan, and I enjoy several other 'grownup' authors as well. I do get the impression (from friends) that people assume that because I write stories intended for younger readers, that that's all I read.

Congrats on finding an agent, btw! (Not sure if I made it over here to say that previously.)

Angie said...

So I mostly write paranormal and paranomral romance but lately I've been reading a lot more contemporary. I still read paranormal, just not as much as I used to. Yet to actually write something contemporary would be difficult for me. I can come up with a lot of ideas for paranormal but not so much for contemporary. At the same time I think that reading more contemporary has really helped me flesh out my characters more and make them into "real" people.

Nomes said...

i read a lot. this year i've already read over 120 books. (i feel slightly weird about that, like i should be ashamed, haha)

i love YA and am working on a contemp, and I love reading contemp YA. paranormal does nothing for me... but i like dystopia's and specualtive sci-fi.

in adult fiction, i usually read thrillers and suspense crime, etc. not sure why? i even read political thrillers which is weird as i cant be bothered to follow politics in real life...

erinjade said...

120+ books? gah!!! you are making my brain hurt! haha. i bow to your commitment to reading.

interesting, all. nice to see everyone is not just well read but widely-read. (did i make that up?)
it's good to read across many genres, and i'm glad i'm not a lone in my faves to read not necessarily being my fave to write.

oh, and thanks for the congrats, EJ. it's still sinking in. :)