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?
Jamie 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. 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: 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.
Deborah 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.
Julie 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.