“Read, read, read. Read everything – trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out the window.” – William Faulkner
I’ve seen this sentiment from established writers more than once – read everything you can, even if it’s not in a genre that you want to write or that you enjoy. Or maybe because it’s in a genre you don’t want to write. Every different style, every different genre, every different author has something to teach you as a writer.
It was with that in mind that I re-joined the book club that I had left about a year ago. I left the group just because I was feeling the pinch of too many commitments and not enough time (sound familiar to any of you?). But since I left, not only have I missed the excuse to go out for some much needed girl time each month, I’ve noticed that I read everything in the same genre. I generally stick to YA fantasy or sci-fi. Or adult fantasy. This is what I enjoy reading and what I enjoy writing. So, there’s nothing wrong with reading that genre exclusively, right? Maybe. Maybe not.
The book selection for this month was Heidi by Johanna Spyri. It’s a classic. A CLASSIC. I should have been thrilled to read this right? Oh, lordy, it was painful to get through. But I did! I think it was just because of the style it was written. It was first published in 1880. People spoke a little differently back then, you know.
What wisdom did I take away from this book? It would have been awesome to grow up barefoot and carefree in the Swiss Alps. Can’t say that I picked up anything that will help me in my own writing. Next month’s selection is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak which I am wildly excited to read, based on what I’ve heard about it. But first I’ll have to tear myself away from Clash of Kings.
Do you try to read books outside of your comfort zone just for the experience? To pick up ideas for your own writing style? Or do you tend to always read in the same genre? I’m curious to hear from folks on this!