A reader who writes

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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!

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13 Comments

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13 responses to “A reader who writes

  1. It’s so interesting that you can’t read the genre you’re writing. I rarely read anything else, except literary fiction 🙂

    • I know people say that. I’d like it to be that way because I’m pretty limited these days! 😛 I still have shelves of mysteries, though, so I might just go back to those. In my spare time. ha!

  2. And I’m so glad you enjoyed “The Crimson League,” Jennings! Thanks for the shoutout. I really enjoyed “Solomon’s Throne” and have “Undaunted Love” on the TBR list (and on the kindle). It was well worth the read and it really drew me in. I loved Rei’s need for coffee. It made me think of my sister 🙂 Your researching really blew me away. So well done!

    • Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed them. I like Rei – she’s who I’d like to be when I grow up. The Quinns and Mac have another adventure in The Hoard of the Doges and I’m planning 2 more this year. They’re fun to write!

      • FUN!!! I’ll have to pick up the sequels! Yea! The Quinns were great. I love how you say Rei’s who you’d like to be when you grow up! I feel that way about my character Bennie in some ways.

  3. I find it difficult to read, write and blog at the same time. Well, obviously, not at the SAME time but focusing on all three is impossible for me. I can see why you’d not want to read and write the same genre, but think the trade off between reading less enabling you to write more one worth making.

    Happy reading and writing 🙂

    • Agreed! Although I miss the guilt-free rainy or snowy days curling up with a book. Now I feel like I should be writing! Oh well… the price we pay, right? Thanks for reading!

  4. I’m finding I’m going through the same thing right now. I used to read and read and read, until I started writing. Now I barely have time… although I went on vacation for a week last November and read five books in seven days, so maybe it’s not the writing that’s getting in the way, it’s the jobs and kids and housework! I also don’t like to read the same genre I write in while I’m in the middle of a WIP.

    • Don’t you just love vacations?! We went on one the week before Christmas and I read, ate lobster, and enjoyed fruity adult beverages. No guilt! haha! We’ll just have more to look forward to now, right?

  5. I’m the same. I used to read a lot but since writing my own novels I somehow lost the motivation to read. Also, like you, I’m so busy either writing or editing that I simply don’t have time. I also much prefer movies to books and watch many of them in my genre (science fiction and space opera) and get most of my inspiration from movies.

    • It’s funny how some of us have this problem! I was trying to finish up a book last night which I’ve enjoyed pretty well, but fell asleep after a half hour… It isn’t reflective of the book! 😦 Thanks for visiting the blog!

  6. I can relate to this – one thing I’ve noticed when I’m writing loads is that when I get to bed I really don’t feel like reading, and I used to go to bed ‘early’ with the intention of at least an hour with my book before I turned off the light. What I’ve started to do is read more short stories, because you can dip into a collection and then dip out again. I’m also reading more memoir. Here I find the voice talks directly to you and is thus more engaging and asks less. I read The Liars Club by Mary Karr, which I was glued to.

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