I’m assuming that most of you that write books were readers of books before you ventured out creating your own. I would also guess that the genre you’ve chosen to write in mirrors what you prefer to read. I don’t know this for sure, but it’s true in my case.
So, how should authors read? Before this question can be answered, it’s important to understand the reasons WHY authors should read. Here are some of them:
- Learning what to do (and what not to do) – You can learn a great deal about wonderful techniques that writers use by reading the works of some of the designated masters. I write in the detective/mystery genre. I’ve learned a ton from reading books by Elmore Leonard, Jonathan Kellerman, John D. MacDonald and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Those authors are successful for a reason. They’ve either had a very successful book that has made their other works sell at a high rate or their body of work is recognized as being worth reading. Exemplifying what they did in their writing is not a bad practice.
- Reading non-fiction works about writing – I consider myself a lifelong learner. I’ve read many non-fiction books that cover different aspects of writing. Stephen King’s book, On Writing, is a fascinating read. It not only gives helpful advice on writing, but it gives you a glimpse into King’s journey, complete with multiple rejections, as he came into his own as a writer. There are also many inexpensive books to help you on Amazon. A word of advice here, you might want to check the author’s credentials and the reviews before you purchase books on writing and publishing advice. If the author has very few reviews or his or her sales rank is low, it might not be worth following their advice.
- Read books from different perspectives – One of my favorite books of all time is To Kill a Mockingbird. I have read it three times, each from a different perspective. As a high school student, it was required reading. As I forced myself through the initial pages, I quickly became immersed in the story and enjoyed it thoroughly. The analysis of the book we did as part of the class helped me learn a lot about the construction of a good book. I read it again as an adult in my 20s. I just appreciated the narrative of that period of history. When I read it in my 50s in anticipation of Go Set a Watchman, the alleged sequel, I was moved by Scout’s relationship to her 50-something year old dad. At the time, I had a daughter the same age as Scout and I was about the same age as Atticus Finch. I began to see how my daughter might view me through her seven year-old eyes. When you read a classic, or even a contemporary book, read it as an author, learner, but above all, as a reader.
I hope this post has you thinking about how and why you read. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.