I don’t have time to read any more. Ironic, isn’t it?
All my life I’ve been a reader, starting with Winnie the Pooh, then graduating to Nancy Drew, and moving on to a broader world of books as I grew older. And when I was in my twenties, I thought I had all the time in the world. Since I wasn’t dating a heck of a lot (like, uh, never?) I had plenty of quiet time on Saturday nights to read—classic science fiction, contemporary novels, and of course, mysteries.
I watch Jeopardy now, and I’m amazed by how many older books I read and still remember. After college I did have a life—friends, marriage, a child, travel, home improvement, community activities. When did I read all those books? But I know I did, because I kept almost all of them.
And then after a long time I started writing in 2001. I figured by then I had collected enough knowledge of styles and themes and genres and whatever to try my hand at it, and I was stubborn enough to stick to it until I got it right (it took a while, and (unsolicited endorsement) it would not have been possible if I hadn’t had a working spouse with an income).
I’ve heard many of my writer friends say that they can’t read within their own genre while they’re writing because they’re afraid of imitating what they’re reading. That’s never been a problem for me (maybe because I can’t analyze styles all that well). I love to read cozies. I try to read the new ones that my friends publish—but there are just too darn many of them (the new books, not the friends!), and they keep coming. I applaud their productivity, and their creativity, not to mention their energy. But when do I get to read them?
Then there are the books I know I won’t have time to read any time soon—mostly non-fiction—because if I don’t buy it when I see it or read an intriguing review, I’ll forget and never find it again. That stack is about five feet high. Every now and then I actually manage to read (and finish!) one. And I won’t even talk about the books I plan to use for research (such as The History of Underclothes, that might come in handy someday).
There are a few writers whose books I will read as soon as I can. There are a lot more writers whose books I want to read if I can ever find the time. On the flip side, there are writers whose books I reject for purely arbitrary reasons (and I apologize, because I’m sure they’re well-written and interesting, but I have to chop something). For example, I find it hard to read historical fiction, in part because I was an academic and I keep questioning the accuracy of the facts presented. I don’t read science fiction any more. I’ve never gone near YA or new adult or any of the “new” genres—no time. I used to read women’s fiction, and thank goodness it’s kind of disappeared (what? That author is still alive and writing?)
What about you? How do you as readers decide what to read? By genre? Based on past books by an author that you’ve enjoyed, or because someone has recommended it to you?