I LOVE reading – and as a writer, it is one of the essential tools in developing my own work - which is lucky! I frequently analyse other writers' work to find out how they manage jeopardy, pace, setting, backstory and so on (more on how to do this in a later post).
I’m always shocked, however, at the sheer number of books other people – especially other authors - seem to get through! I’ve come across a number of writers who seem able to demolish 8, 10, 12 books in a month and I find this astonishing (and frankly, enviable). I’d love to disappear inside that number of different worlds, take that number of virtual journeys every month!
I’m embarrassed to say that in 2013, I read 2-3 books a month... But I chose those books carefully. I find it hard to read a novel that isn’t ‘aspirational’ – by this I mean I want to give myself up to a book where the writing quality makes me think; ‘Wow, this is special/clever/different - I wish I could write like this.’ If a book doesn’t hit that spot, I can’t read it. It’s like drinking tea made with powdered milk; it isn’t the real deal and I feel like it isn’t going to do me any good. I tend to believe a bit of every book rubs off on the reader and I don’t want to be left covered in mud!
I tend to read books in the genre I write in – psychological thrillers – they are generally the type of stories I’m most intrigued by, with the occasional police procedural thrown in. Nothing too ‘cosy’ and I don’t venture into horror, supernatural, erotica or crime that is macho-gritty or overly offensive. I like books that have something fresh in the writing style with imagery and atmosphere (Tideline is a great example of this, see below).
So, how do writers find the time to read?
I spend my whole day focused on writing; whether this is planning, editing, revising or marketing and whilst I try to fit reading in as part of this process, I rarely read more than 100 pages a day.
Some days, I'm so engrossed in my own story that the day's gone before I've picked up that novel. How do other authors find time to read so much?
Is it that they:
- Make more hours in the day (get to sleep very late, or get up extra early)?
- Read faster?
- Have sharper brains?
- Skim read?
- Spend longer than usual in the toilet..?
- Produce less writing in their day?
- See reading as more of a priority?
- Spend less time in the evenings watching TV (this could be my downfall - I love relaxing at the end of the day with an episode of Borgen, Peaky Blinders, Dirk Gently or New Tricks)? But it’s all crime in the end and grist to the mill...
- Take a novel everywhere with them – on the Tube, to the doctor’s surgery, lay it across the supermarket trolley?
(Let me know how YOU manage to pack reading into your busy schedule...)
To finish off the subject of Reading - here are my Top 10 Delicious and Divine books from 2013 (in no particular order):
Into the Darkest Corner – Elizabeth Haynes
Broken – Daniel Clay
The Storyteller – Jodi Picoult
Tideline – Penny Hancock
Just What Kind of Mother Are You? – Paula Daly
Rush of Blood – Mark Billingham
The Age of Miracles – Karen Thompson Walker
Until Your Mine – Samantha Hayes
Under Your Skin – Sabine Durrant
The Suspect – Michael Robotham
I'm delighted that books such as these are in the world! I’d love to hear your views about reading and find out your own favourite novels in 2013. If you enjoyed this post, please SHARE it using the buttons below. Thank you!