I read at least one book a week, and two if I they’re not too lengthy. But no matter how many books I cram in, there are always more than I can possibly read, and sometimes I can’t help but feel like I’m drowning in books. (What a happy death.)
I feel reading is an integral part of being a writer. We learn how to write well by reading well, and then writing heaps of words to hone our craft and find our own unique voice.
I believe in reading widely, that there are great books in every genre and age-group, both fiction and non-fiction, adult and children’s, literary, fantasy, classics, contemporary,…they all have great books to offer. But lately I felt overwhelmed by by the idea of “keeping up.” There are three areas in which I feel I have to “keep up.”
1. My chosen genre. It seems that if ever a book comes out that has anything to do with fairy-tales, I should read it, if not to enjoy a genre I adore, but so I know what’s being done in the particular genre I write. Have you looked at how many fairy-tale related books have been published in the last year alone? Not to mention movies and TV shows!
2. Award winning books. I also feel the need to read a lot of the award winners, at least in the children’s categories. I always read the Newbery winners and honors, and the National Book Award winner and many of the finalists. I feel like I should know what books are receiving such high honors and why, but if I choose not to read them, does that affect
3. My local network. I’m not as involved in the writing community here in Chicago as I was in Utah, but I’m trying to remedy that and get a little more involved in my local SCBWI chapter. If you want to make friends with other writers is it imperative that you read their books? If you meet an author and like them as a person, are you obligated to read their book? If you don’t are you a snob? If one writer reads your books and you don’t read theirs are you a super-snob, or is it just unprofessional?
These are just things I’ve been wondering about. You tell me: What is a writer’s responsibility in reading? Should we be like any other reader and simply read what we want? Or do we have some kind of responsibility to keep up on the market and also read our contemporaries?