Friday Fun – Are you a diverse reader?

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: We all have our favorite genres, but reading different kinds of writing by a diverse collection of authors is a great way to expand our writing horizons as well as our minds. Do you read diversely, or are you more of a one-genre type of reader?

headshot_jw_thumbnailJamie Wallace: There’s no question. I definitely fall into the “diverse reader” category. I don’t read everything, but I do read quite a wide variety of genres (literary, chick lit, mystery, fantasy, SciFi, YA, magical surrealism, creative nonfiction, gothic, etc.), formats (novels, short stories, essays, poetry, etc.), and authors (from  classic to contemporary). Mostly, what I’m looking for is a good story. It doesn’t really matter to me how the story is classified by a publisher, I just want to be drawn in. I want to care.

I think that reading all different kinds of writing is one of the best things a writer can do because it sort of broadens your palette, so to speak. It gives you more to play with when you sit down to do your own writing. You can take a trope from one genre and see how it plays out in another. You can mix writing styles or story structures. There are so many hybrid genres (space opera, for instance, a cross between romance and SciFi) that are fun to explore.

And, hey, it just makes you a more interesting person. I mean, Shakespeare in the morning, Vonnegut with lunch, and Ann Patchett before bed … there’s a person I’d like to meet!

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson: I’m definitely diverse: mysteries, thrillers, suspense, paranormal, sci-fi, time travel, dark fiction, travel writing, true crime, and YA, and being a book reviewer I’ve also read non-fiction, memoirs, chick lit, women’s fiction, romance, poetry…

I think it’s hard to stick to 1 category any more, as many books fall in more than one category. For instance, “romantic suspense”. I have authors I love to read and admit to sometimes cursing when I discover a new-to-me author where I fall in love with a book just to discover it’s smack in the middle of a series, so I have to go back and start at the beginning of the series to give it the true do-I-really-love-this-author test! Know what I mean?

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon: I consider myself a diverse reader, for all the reasons that Jamie and Lisa list above. I love to read and I’ll read just about anything. The only genre I would say I probably wouldn’t go for is horror. I have enough horror images in my head from my time in the Emergency Room at Kings County Hospital, in Brooklyn. But other than that, I’m open to reading anything that falls into my hand (or my inbox!) And I think I would read horror if it came with enough recommendations from trusted friends. I’d at least try it.

dll2013Deborah Lee Luskin: I would like to think I’m a diverse reader, but I don’t think I qualify. Aside from literary fiction, I read a lot of non-fiction: history, science, biography, social science, and an occasional mystery. I don’t do horror, thriller, paranormal; I do read nineteenth- and early twentieth-century British and American, and work from Africa. And I read poetry. But this makes me seem like a more avid reader than I am currently. Because I’m deep into writing a novel, I’m not reading much, though I do listen to audio books in the evening – while I knit and let my mind spin threads of the story, which I pick up when I return to work in the morning.

hennrikus-web2Julie Hennrikus: I read a lot of mysteries. A lot. But I also read literary fiction, lots of non-fiction, criticism, plays. Books/articles/blogs on theater, non-profit management, fundraising. I also “discovered” YA fiction recently, and suspect that may be a wonderful diversion. Like Deborah, I am working on a particular project right now, and have added research to my reading pile.

19 thoughts on “Friday Fun – Are you a diverse reader?

  1. I’ll read anything so long as it has a good story. I usually look for science fiction before anything else, but I love getting lost in epic fantasy and meticulously detailed historical fiction. I read romance when I just want to get happy. I like travel writing, too. I’m a huge Bill Bryson fan. I credit him with getting me to read more non-fiction. I like how he presents history. I like mystery, but don’t read a lot of it.

    I think diverse reading is like diverse eating. It’s being open to new experiences.

  2. I hate to admit it, but I’m really not a very diverse reader of fiction. I like medieval literature, epic and mythical sagas, fantasy, and children’s books, plus a smattering of Jane Austen type things.

    I do read pretty widely in non-fiction though. Does that count? I love everything from academic scholarship on biblical theology to historical accounts of technology in war, to string theory, to post-Colonialism, to biographies, to meditation on the rural life.

    I need more of push to commit to fiction, for some reason.

  3. I think I can call myself a diverse reader as far as literary fiction is concerned. I read almost everything from Romance, thriller,family stories,to science fiction, suspense etc. In the non-fiction category I do not qualify as a diverse reader. I only read books dealing with psychology, health(weight loss to be specific) and a little bit of cookery.

  4. Always good to have a varied diet. Learned that with small libraries. It’s like some put all their food on the plates in different “island” and eat all of one before going on to the next. With a limited number of books in a library, I’d start with one genre/author and run through those before going on to the next ….while waiting for the new books to get on the shelves. Still read pretty widely

  5. I hate to admit it, but I’m not a diverse reader. During college, I was . . . because my instructors encouraged me to be. Now that I work full-time, I don’t have a lot of spare time to read a book I don’t enjoy. I try to stick with what I know I will like: fantasy and comedic fantasy. I’m even sticking to the same authors: Terry Pratchett, Karen Miller, George R.R. Martin, and J.R.R. Tolkien.

    I recently decided it’s time for me to expand my reading portfolio at least to new authors. I’m just not at all interested in nonfiction or thrillers. I might have to try branching into the contemporary fiction genre. Suggestions?

  6. As for myself, it depends on my mood and what I’m feeling like. I currently have four books that I am reading bit by bit. Science fiction (comforting); cancer stories (preparing for a radio interview); History of Newfoundland (I am a history writer, after all); and not to mention catalogs and magazines. How diverse is that, eh? 🙂

  7. I was not a good reader at all by the time my first book was published. Later on I realised the importance and the joy of reading. I am becoming a voracious reader now. But still, I am not as diverse as you people! I generally stick to crime genres, or stories about the society and life. I loathe love stories. I tried science fiction once (The Time Machine by HG Wells), but I hadn’t even finished a fourth of it, that the story began to fly over my head.

    I am happy with the way the love for books has transpired within me. I am devoting considerable amount of time with books daily, and it is helping me a lot.

    I regularly read self-help books and other articles, including blogs, and that has been enhancing my literary knack!

  8. As a student, I was not very good at reading or writing. My teachers and fellow classmates would usually make fun or simply not call on me at all. It wasn’t until I reached my first year of college that a professor reached out to me and began ‘believing’ in me and somehow drew my interest and love for poetry; hence to love writing.

    So for me, I would have to say that I’m not as diverse in all genres, however my passion runs wild in poetry, fairy tales, mythology, fiction in verse, humor and fables.

    This is a wonderful place to be Jamie. Sincere appreciation for the reflections and ability to share among other wonderful people that surround you~*

  9. I read a greater variety now than I did 20 years ago. Then it was all about sci fi and fantasy. Now I also enjoy chick lit (thanks Sophie Kinsella), childrens’ fiction (I’ve got kids and I’m a librarian), biography, history, faddish social science like Outliers, popular urban planning books and short story collections. Still no interest in romance, horror, poetry or literary fiction.

  10. I’ve learned to branch out and read different generas within the past couple of years. I used to only like to read memoirs or realistic fiction that could have been someone’s life. Recenly, I’ve been reading more fantasy, some Sci-Fi – something I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole before – and will probably jump into some horror and mystery soon. I’ll try a little bit of anything!

  11. I’ll read everything and anything that comes my way (even junk mail that drops into my letterbox – you never know if you might want to branch out into advertising) except for porn. I know that there’s a market for the latter, but I haven’t got the interest or the mindset for it. 🙂

  12. I have an India obsession and that greatly influences my choices but does not exclude other genres, though many do stem from this interest such as post colonial literature. I plowed through all of Jane Austen’s novels this summer and was surprised how much I enjoyed them but did keep thinking about what was going on in India during that time. So I guess I don’t sound diverse but I am open and a true foodie!

  13. Up until my class I’m taking at MSU called Reading and Responding to Children’s Literature I was a one-genre type reader. Typically sucked into something that would eventually evolve into a romance or romantic-comedy film. Since the class, I have been challenged to read all types of literature ranging from children’s books to young adult fantasy, historical fiction, fiction, and especially fiction pushing societal norms. I am glad to have been expanding my horizons, I never realized how much I was missing out on! There are so many diverse perspectives and I highly recommend everyone to push their comfort zones because there might be some things out there that you like even better! PS. if you haven’t read “Out of my Mind” by Sharon M. Draper – it’s a must read!

  14. I think I am a very diverse reader. I like fiction, sci fi, non-fiction, classics, YA and more. But then, I am a high school English teacher, so it would be a bad thing if I didn’t like to read lots of different things! 😉

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