I have been a voracious reader all my life. That is, until I started writing. I used to read a book in a day or two. I read several books a week, well over a hundred a year. I don’t know the exact number, but I’d be surprised if I read thirty last year. Well, if you count audiobooks then yes, but otherwise, probably not. (I listen to audiobooks almost exclusively when I’m driving.)
What happened? I became a writer. It’s not that I don’t still LOVE to read. I do! I reread The Lord of the Rings last year (I’m going to count that as 3 books for my tally, okay?) and still love it as much as the first time I read it, decades ago. I’ve had fun reading Rick Riordan’s last few novels, which are silly and fun and a good mental break. I’ve read a few great indie novels (and a few not so great ones). But that’s about it.
Why? I think there are several reasons, although none are crystal clear in my overworked brain. For one thing, I can’t read in the genre in which I’m writing at the moment. Since my favorite novels to read these last few years have been action adventure/thriller types, and since I’ve written two of those and have two more in the works, that’s removed a lot of potentials from my to-be-read list . (My upcoming YA trilogy has not a little of this genre in it, too.)
I don’t think I’m worried about inadvertently stealing plot lines or characters from these books. Because I’m a project person and write the first drafts fast, my mind is consumed with my stories. It doesn’t have room for more adventure!
Secondly, I’ve been very busy writing and editing. I used to read throughout the day, at lunch, before bed… Now I might take a long enough lunch to read but that’s unusual. I’m working all day, from 9:00 to about 6:00, after which I make dinner. I usually watch some recorded police procedural type shows with the family afterwards to unwind (Castle, NCIS, The Mentalist, Bones) and then go to bed. I do read almost every night before I go to sleep, but that’s not usually more than a half hour.
Finally, and I’m not sure if this is me or the state of the industry right now, I’m having a hard time finding things to read. (The caveat being that I’m not reading in the genres I’m writing, which are, of course, my favorite genres… A vicious cycle!) As I said, I’ve found some great indie books. I loved Blood and Water by Stuart Edmond, a gritty police procedural set in London. The Crimson League by Victoria Grefer was unlike anything I’d read before, a well written fantasy involving magicians, but I thoroughly enjoyed it (and will get to the second book, The Magic Council, eventually!).
I’ve read some books by some of my favorite authors and either didn’t finish them or found them strangely average. Among those are Bloodline from James Rollins, Cross Bones from Kathy Reichs, and anything past Book 3 (maybe even Book 2) in the Game of Thrones never-ending saga.
It may just be me. I find I’m enjoying movies more than books these days, although good ones of those are also few and far between. Maybe my brain is too tired imagining the worlds I’m building that it’s not doing a good job imagining the worlds of other people. I have read some good books, and have some old stand-bys that I turn to when I have nothing else to read, most notably the books of Dick Francis, Martha Grimes (the Richard Jury books until the last couple, which get kind of maudlin), James Rollins, Rick Riordan, and Janet Evanovich. Sometimes it’s better to reread something you know will be good or make you laugh than to get part way through something and realize you just don’t care…
I miss reading. I’m leaving for an almost 3-week trip soon and I’m taking my Kindle. I’d like to say I’ll read a lot, and that may be. I usually do read a good deal when I go to Uganda, as I escape the busy household (always at least 20 people in residence) and read by the light of my headlamp in my room. But a friend has asked me to beta read her memoir, and I’ll be editing an upcoming non-fiction book that’s next for publication, not to mention that I’m working every day but two while I’m there and am going to be exhausted.
I don’t want reading to be one of those “one day” things. I’ve put on Goodreads that I’m going to read 30 books this year. While that’s way down from my pre-writing days, that’s a good number for me in my current circumstances. What about you? What are you reading? Are you a book devourer like I used to be, or more of a connoisseur? Please pass on your favorite books – I’m obviously in need of some new material!