What does reading have to do with writing? Quite a bit. If you weren’t a reader, you wouldn’t be a writer. It’s hard to imagine what kind of writing a person would produce if they didn’t read. Hard to imagine because it isn’t published. We can see the short version of writing by non-readers in some of the status updates on social networks.
I could do some research into what writers read, but I already know the answer. Writers read everything. How do you decide what to read?
It’s common blogging advice to talk about the reader, not yourself. I hope you’ll forgive me for talking about myself as a reader.
I got pushed into reading early in life by some bad luck which turned out to be good luck. My grade one teacher enforced reading using a yardstick and a strap. That strap has since been featured in commercials about how bad the federal penitentiary system used to be. Her use of that strap on six year olds was probably illegal even then, but it made me learn to read. I can only be thankful for that part of it.
I usually have about 100 novels and a dozen non-fiction books in my “to be read” pile at all times. It takes a conscious effort to keep the piles from continually growing. Every time I pass a book store or see a yard sale sign, I’m tempted to buy more books.
What Do I Read?
I read books about how to write. You saw that one coming.
My blogs are a clue to my interests, so you could guess I also read psychology and philosophy.
I also find basic religious concepts interesting; from any world religion. What grabs me most is how much all world religions seem to have in common.
History books can be interesting too.
Anything about Japan is fascinating. Japan is a nation which has remade itself countless times. It’s also a weird nation in some ways, possibly because all of the changes have produced some people who couldn’t keep up and created themselves in odd ways.
Books about crime round off the non-fiction book types I read, although anything that catches my interest could go home with me.
For fiction, I tend to follow genres. In the past I read lots of science fiction, heroic fantasy, and mysteries.
These days, I like crime and detective fiction. I hear someone saying, “Aren’t those the same thing?” No. Crime novels follow the criminal and detective novels follow the detective. When both are followed about equally, we may call them mysteries or thrillers. So, I guess I still read a few mysteries and thrillers too.
There is one more genre I like. Books that make it onto “best of” lists. If an old book is still making it onto those lists, it must be pretty good. Most of them are.
Is Reading Just Entertainment?
Before I decided to become a writer, reading fiction was just entertainment. Non-fiction has always been educational.
Since starting my latest novel, I’ve begun looking at the fiction I’m reading differently. Who is narrating? How long are the chapters? What is the story structure? What’s different about this novel compared to the last one I read? I’m still entertained, but I’m learning more about writing with every book.
What do you read and how does it influence your writing?
Article by Ivan Izo.