Some writers avoid reading while they’re writing. It’s tough to understand how this works, but I’ve heard many famous authors say this. They’re afraid the book they’re reading will seep into their work. At the same time, most say they’re always working on something and that they read a lot. You do the math.
What I will say, is in these couple of weeks when I’ve been writing regularly, my reading life has changed. Last year, for the first time I tracked my books on Goodreads. I read 62 books. At the end of the year, I counted 29 audiobooks and 39 fiction. I rarely read an author I’d read before, although over my lifetime there are authors whose books I’ve read all of. I lean towards always looking for something new. I especially like a topic I know nothing about or a life very different from my own. I don’t care if a book is long or short if I want to read it. In fact, I would say I lean towards books that are 500 or so pages. Although, most contemporary books seem to be around 300. I’m not a fast reader and never really cared to be. But that’s changing in a strange way.
Since I’ve been working on my writing discipline, I’ve felt different about what books I want to read. I’m leaning more towards books I want to devour. I’ve never been afraid to abandon a book, even when it was assigned. I do push my way through some books though. I’ve tried to pinpoint why I push through some books and abandon others, but I know I pushed through more last year. This year, I want to abandon faster and move on quicker. I want to books that I’m attached to while I’m reading, but not carrying them with me throughout the day. I have the story I’m working on to take with me.
My strategy for doing this:
- Read Authors I already Know: There are authors I’ve read repeatedly, but not many. I rarely read series. Even when I finish a book by an author I love, I don’t reach for the another by the same author. For years, I named The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao as one of my favorites before I read another Diaz. Last year, I finished books by Jose Saramago and Hanya Yanagihara and thought, I need to read everything by this author, but then never did. This year, I plan to focus on authors I’ve wanted to read more of.
- Abandon Faster: It’s not always the book’s fault when I abandon it. Yet, I feel slightly remiss. I hold on to books that should want to devour, but for some reason don’t. For instance, last year I tried to read The Ministry of Utmost Happiness on a 6:00 am flight. The book’s characters have difficult Indian names. I should love this book set in India at a time I know little about. But I just couldn’t attach to any of the characters. Perhaps it would all come together in a time or place when I was more awake. Still, I pushed on for days, reading a page or two at a time, and getting nowhere. Finally, I did abandon it. I could’ve read two books in the time I wasted. I should’ve thrown it back in my TBR list half way through the flight and moved on.
- Lie on Goodreads: I have 30 or so friends on Goodreads and three that use it regularly. I haven’t seen any of these three in at least eight years and it is likely I will never see them again. Still, I post a book in my currently reading pile and I feel like I need to finish it. I don’t always finish them, but it lingers. I actually think Goodreads holds me back. It’s fun to track books read, but not your orphaned books. This year the plan is to put books in Current Reads when I’m either close to finishing or done. I’ve toyed with the idea of always having it be one book behind.
I’m interested to see how I do switching up my reading life. It’s not something I’ve thought about in awhile, but it’s something I feel changing. I’ll let you know how it goes.