Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Reading outside my rut

Reading is a wonderful escape to a familiar landscape for most of us. My reading “comfort food” includes historical romance, of course, as well as straight history. (Yes, I do read history for fun.) I also rely on some well-loved thriller writers as a “palate cleanser” and a motivational self-help book is always at my bedside.
Throw in the occasional contemporary romance by one of my go-to authors and you’ve summed up my reading habit.
Lately, I’ve been wondering whether my reading diet needs to be a little more adventurous. Yes, it’s familiar and comfortable. It’s also in a little bit of a rut. Maybe I should actively look for reading that will take me far away from the mists of the Scottish Borders, where I spend most of my writing and research time.
One option is to dip into one of the many downloads on my Kindle. When the price is right, I’ve impulsively clicked “buy” on any number of things: an inspirational suspense, a history of the underground press of the Sixties, a contemporary comic novel, and a collection of essays, for starters. Any one of those would take me far afield from my normal routine.
Or maybe I should make a plan. A list of genres I rarely read would include paranormal, inspirational, erotic, and mysteries. I could look for the best in each category, RITA nominated books, for instance, and systematically pick one from each.
On the other hand, I already have a teetering TBR pile full of novels from my author friends: a YA novel, a cozy mystery, women’s fiction…each very different. And each from a writer I KNOW tells a good story. If I start at the top and work down, I’d cover a lot of unfamiliar territory.
So how do I move beyond my reading comfort zone? Should I choose at random, create a plan, or just work from the top of the pile down?
Hmmm. While I ponder, I’ve a book calling to me. The biography about the sisters of Henry VIII is due back to the library soon…
Have you ever tried to expand beyond familiar reading habits? How did you do it?


Anonymous said...

I was also doing a lot of historical research and reading in the genre I want to write in. I decided that I want to read a wider variety of fiction styles and voices, both from past and current writers, so this year I set a goal to read from the list of Pulitzer prize winners in American fiction, which has been awarded each year from 1918 to the present. I was surprised how few of these works I had read - many of them now "classics" of American fiction - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pulitzer_Prize_for_Fiction
I am reading them in somewhat random order, whatever I can get from the library. Right now I am reading Edith Wharton's _Age of Innocence_ (1921), which is great material for anyone interested in historical fiction and romance!

in California

Blythe Gifford said...

What a great idea to go through the list of Pulitzer Prize winners! I'll take a look at that list. I bet there are one or two I've never heard of in addition to the classics.