Tuesday, April 26, 2016

What Does One Writer Read?

Someone asked, what kind of books do I read.

Well, it's a mixed bag.

In fiction, I lean heavily toward mysteries. But in the past year and a half I've read a number of Westerns, some historical fiction, Harper Lee's "Go Set a Watchman," Howard Frank Mosher's "God's Kingdom" and even Neil Gaiman's "The Ocean at the End of the Lane."

Who do I favor in mysteries? James Lee Burke, Ann Rendell/Barbara Vine, Harlan Coben, Ian Rankin, Wayne Dundee, Douglas Quinn, Elmore Leonard, Mark Billingham, Denzel Meyrick and many new ones I'm constantly discovering.

In non-fiction, I'm all over the place: history (particularly 19th century), archaeology, anthropology, travel, biographies, psychology, philosophy--whatever catches my fancy or may be vital to my research.

I don't, in general, read fantasy, paranormal (especially zombies), sappy romances or much sci-fi, but those are personal choices and not a condemnation of those genres.

I'm currently reading Juliet Barker's "The Brontes," an in-depth study of that remarkably talented family and JM Gregson's (another of those authors newly discovered) "A Little Learning."

Much of what I read, I also review. No one but a writer understands how important reviews are to a writer, be he/she known or unknown. So, if you read, please review. It doesn't take much to say you enjoyed (or didn't) reading a particular book. And reviews, no matter how brief, help a book rise in the ratings on Amazon and elsewhere. Besides, who doesn't like to give their opinion on something?

Stephen King says you can't be a writer without being a reader. And that admirable Brit Samuel Johnson once said, "The greatest part of a writer's time is spent in reading, in order to write, a man will turn over half a library to make one book."


22 comments:

  1. Your tastes are similar to my own. I both read and write mystery fiction. But my latest novel is also a Western. My reading and writing is quite varied as well.

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    1. I think the variety is typical of most writers. Thanks for commenting, Jacqui.

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  2. I agree with you, Jack. I spend almost as much time reading as I do writing. Great blog post. Thanks!

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  3. In fiction, I read mysteries/crime, thrillers, historical. I used to read a lot of SF, but not much in recent years. I do read the occasional fantasy (absolutely no zombies or [modern] vampires), but Tolkien's LOTR set a standard most cannot live up to.
    In nonfiction, I read physics, astronomy, history, theology, philosophy, biography...well, almost anything.

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    1. I should have included theology, also, Larry. We all want to know the origins of life and if we're right about the godhead.

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  4. The first thing I do when I have a bit of time to relax is grab a book or my Kindle. I read all genres of books, both fiction and non-fiction on all sorts of topics. Yes, those reviews are super important to those of us who are trying to keep our books selling, too. Hard to get people to write them, but so very appreciated.

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  5. Sounds like my taste in books is about like yours, but I lean toward mysteries, mainly because I belong to Mystery Readers at the library. I also write a mystery series. My list of favorite authors is too long for this comment, but I have to say that Sue Grafton's style is my favorite. Thanks for the post.

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    1. Grafton has always been a good read. Thanks for commenting.

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  6. Great post, J.R. Reading enhances writing and vice-versa. Observing differing style, language, use of words and phrases all add a richness to writing practice and the enjoyment of great writers works.

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  7. I got my fill of westerns growing up in Phoenix, Arizona and watching what we called back then, Cowboy and Indian movies. I did read Lonesome Dove in 2007. I prefer mysteries. I enjoyed reading this.

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    1. Read my share of Westerns, too. Thanks, Linda.

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  8. No matter a writer's usual genre preference, I bet most would enjoy the last book I absolutely loved: The Storied Life of AJ Fikry because it's about a bookstore, the book business, authors and love of reading. Great post, John!

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    1. Sounds interesting, Nancy. My friend John Daniel has a good mystery set in a bookstore, Hooperman.

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  9. The vast majority of the books I read are mystery/suspense although I will occasionally read a mainstream or an historical novel.
    When people say, "I don't have time to read," I like to remind them that we all have the same twenty-four hours in each day and, if we really want to read, we'll make sure to allot time to do that. :)

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    1. If they can find time for TV, they can find time to read.

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  10. I also read mostly mysteries. I've read Go Set a Watchman. Currently I'm two thirds through The Lake House by Kate Morton, a very literary mystery. I read as much as I can and agree wholeheartedly with Stephen King.

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    1. I don't think there's any arguing with King's comment. Thanks for commenting.

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  11. I've put aside mysteries for historical fiction and non-fiction, specifically Alexander the Great to Charles II (England). Not really interested in anything past that. I read first thing in the morning and last thing at night. It is my favorite times of my day.

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    1. I've noticed a lot of historical fiction is incorporating mystery elements, a blend of genres. I kind of like it. Thanks for commenting, Sunny.

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