Friday, September 16, 2011

What Do You Read?

For my writing, I consider it essential to read the kinds of books I write. So, my bedside table is stacked with MG and YA novels (I don't write YA yet, but I like reading them). I tend to read these for enjoyment first, and then afterward, I occasionally think about elements that are related to the craft, like the voice, the language, the dialogue, or the way the story is constructed. I estimate that about 40% to 50% of what I've read over the past couple of years has been books for children.

I wonder what the librarians at my local branch library think of me, getting all these kids books on hold? Maybe they think I have 5 kids at home who read all the time!

My goal has been to immerse myself in the style, the voice, and the structure of the kinds of books I want to write. It has definitely paid off. I know my writing has become much stronger since I've started doing this. (And it's fun!)

In case you were wondering, outside of kidlit, I read "how-to" writing books (this is beginning to sound like an obsession), blog posts (about writing, of course), books for my teaching job, cookbooks, a quick scan of the daily newspaper, and some adult mysteries and chicklit because I do sometimes want to read about adults. I'm guessing this other reading has less impact on my writing, except for the writing-related nonfiction.

What do you read? How much impact do you think it has on your writing?


  1. Absolutely AGREE! I read kids books all the time. And not just to learn the craft but because I love them :)

    That said, it really helps to read what you write. You learn a lot about plot structure, dialog structure and in my case, how to move from one scene to the next (which will be my death one day). Its a brilliant exercise, for everyone, but more so for beginners.

  2. I read kids books ALL of the time. In fact I've gotten to the point that I prefer them. I know it's weird, and when I go to the hair stylist, she thinks it's weird too! But whatever. I love them. And I love writing them!

  3. I read a lot of MG and YA, but I also read a lot of speculative and historical fiction written for adults. And I love non-fiction books, especially ones with a scientific theme. Especially in the fantasy genre, the gap between YA and adult novels seems completely arbitrary. I'm often surprised by what reading inspires me. Some very young MG reading with my son has me thinking a lot about relationships between brother and sister characters right now.

  4. Christy, you're so brave to read them in public! Because I read so many MG and YA books, I think it makes me impatient with adult books that are slower paced or more literary.

  5. Scribbledesk, you sound like you actually try to pay attention to how the writer has crafted the story -- I definitely need to do more of that!

  6. Yup, MG and YA is my main focus! I think some of the best storytelling is going on in those genres right now! I agree with all of you that reading what you write is so important. Cool site!

  7. Thanks for this thought-provoking post, Andrea! It inspired mine today. :-)

    I read mainly MG and YA books, but I also read a wide range of other types of writing as well, including inspirational nonfiction books about the craft of writing.

  8. I read to my kids every day, which has me in everything from picture books to middle grades. On my own, I read mostly YA and MG books with writer craft books sprinkled in as a bonus. I have no problem reading them in public. Good books are good books. :)

  9. Most of what I read is YA, which is what I write. But I write it because I like to read it, not the other was around. :)

    I also read some MG because I have a MG-aged son and a few adult things, mostly romance because I write YA romance. I try to really stretch outside my bounds sometimes though. I thinks it's essential to read your genre, but that there's also a lot to be learned reading others. Even if you're mostly learning the things that keep you from liking the other genre as much as you love yours, you'll also find elements that stand out as just good writing in any genre.


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