On yet another Twitter event conversation, a number of new writers talked about how they didn't read much these days. Or, that they aren't much of readers in general. One comment that really stuck out for me was along the lines of "I'm writing urban fantasy. I've never read that genre before but my story demands to be this!"
I'd like to say that it's a rare, isolated case, but I'm starting to discover that it isn't. Many new writers writing and submitting short fiction to magazines, never having read a short story since high school. Too many don't know that there are small presses out there and that there is a lot between NY Big Houses (tm) and self-publishing on Amazon and Smashwords. (If they read small presses, they'd know).
I'm not well read in the best sellers and big named authors, I admit. A lot of those books haven't appealed to me, though I've picked up a Patricia Briggs and a Charlene Harris book to give them a try. I often like smaller press, smaller named authors, or just oddball stuff (I love Star Trek novels, for example).
I also don't read in one genre. I generally go through phases, where I pick up a dozen SF novels and not read SF for a couple of years because I've moved on to fantasy, then mysteries, then romance, etc... I also don't read when I'm really entrenched in a writing project. However, when I need to recharge my batteries, I pick up a novel.
Need a little help getting started? Here's a little reading challenge that I've been doing this year:
1. Alternate reading female and male authors
2. Read a subgenre that you haven't read before or not recently
3. Alternate reading books published by small presses and big publishing houses
4. Read an author that lives in your province (or, state, territory, etc).
5. Read a fiction magazine
6. Read an anthology or short story collection
7. Read a book published in my country (I'm Canadian) or in other countries not the US (since most of what I buy is American-written and published)
Do you consider yourself well read? What are you reading right now?