Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is reading! Do you set aside time for it each day? How do you decide what to read next?
I’ve always been a voracious reader, ever since I learned to read. I get anxious if I don’t have things to read and almost always have a book with me (although nowadays it will probably be on my kindle rather than a physical book). I’m the kind of reader who likes to devour a book in one sitting and I get very immersed in the world the author created or revealed. It’s hard for anyone to reclaim my attention (although Jake the Cat manages) and if I love the story and it’s part of a series, I’m quite likely to work my way through the author’s entire backlist before I’m done.
There was a break in my reading habits when I had my two children. As the mother of little ones I would only get quick chunks of time to read and so I turned to magazines, where I could read an entire article over lunch and then move on to the next maternal activity without feeling cheated or left wondering what was going to happen next. I didn’t read very many if any books for a few years there. Well, not adult books anyway. One of our favorite shared activities was curling up together and reading age appropriate books!
Children do grow up, however, and I got back to reading novels eventually.
One of the reasons I’ve always written – since I was 7 – is that I could never find enough books of the kind I wanted to read, and so I wrote my own. As Jeffe said earlier this week in her post, reading a really good book and writing my own book seem to take up the same creative space in my mind. Both activities satisfy the same need. Sometimes after reading a book that really grabs me, I’ll be full of the energy and desire to write my own, maybe exploring similar broad themes, or taking off on a tangent or wanting to ‘play’ in a new genre. More often though, reading a good book leaves me content and without the urge to write, at least for a while.
Which isn’t a good thing for a fulltime author.
I can’t be all dreamy eyed re-reading Nalini Singh or Anne McCaffrey, or even Jeffe’s books for too long because I have the rent to pay and cat food to buy.
The other consideration for me is what type of book I’m writing at the moment. I’m published in science fiction romance, ancient Egyptian paranormal romance and fantasy. If I’m deep in writing about 1550 BCE Egypt, for example, I can indulge myself and read an Anna Hackett Galactic Gladiators novel, or one of Tiffany Roberts’s inventive Infinite City series or Pauline B. Jones’s Project Enterprise novels. They satisfy a different part of my creative nature than writing the Egyptian is doing, even though it’s all romance and adventure.
I can’t read SFR while I’m writing SFR. I just cannot. Not even excellent ones like Cynthia Sax’s Cyborg Space Exploration series. So I one click the new books and let them sit in the virtual TBR until I have the finished draft of my work in progress complete and then I go on a binge of catching up. While writing SFR I can read ‘hard science fiction’, post-apocalyptic novels set on planet Earth (I don’t write those), Regency romance, nonfiction, paranormal romance, military adventure….
I don’t write in the fantasy romance series that often, so I have no idea what books I can and can’t read if I’m working on my Magic of Claddare novels.
I will, on occasion, if a new book is one I’ve been anticipating keenly, break all my rules, throw caution to the winds, the WIP be darned, and spend the day reading as soon as the book hits my kindle. Patricia Briggs’s Smoke Bitten was the most recent title like that for me. Any Nalini Singh new release has the same effect on me. Of course then I often go back and re-read the other books in the series, which encroaches on my writing time but hey, a person has to break their own rules sometimes!
When do I read? Given that I tend toward compulsive in my reading habits and want to read an entire book start to finish once I begin, I don’t let myself read novels during the day. I dip in and out of magazines or nonfiction research tomes (usually about ancient Egypt) at my meals and snacks.
When the day is over and my energy and creative energies wane because I’m a morning person and go downhill all day from a peak at about 5am, I sit in bed and read. I read very fast, always have, and can finish a book in a few hours. If it’s a long book but really engrossing, I’ll stay up as late as it takes to reach that satisfying Happy Ever After ending, now that I don’t have a day job that involves commuting and interacting with other people face to face. I can sleep in!
When I finish writing a book, there’s a time period from two days to a week where I’ve exhausted my Muse and I do a lot of reading, all day and all evening long. Then when I know I’m ready to dive into my next project, I revert to the ‘reading only at night’ routine.
What do I read? EVERYTHING! Well, not actually – I rarely read murder mysteries any more although for a long time I was a huge fan of the genre. I never read true crime – too grim and sad for me. I’m not much into ‘dark’ romance, reverse harem, Omegaverse, thrillers, Scottish Highlanders…but even having said that, there’s always an exception if the book sounds good and is really well written.
I pulled out my kindle and here’s a partial list of my most recent reads. I don’t mention any that I DNF’ed or deleted from my kindle after I read them, because there were some but they shall remain nameless:
Cat Pictures Please and Little Free Library, both by Naomi Kritzer
Bone Dry, Buried Bones and Good Bones, The Dance and Dei Ex Machina all by Kim Fielding
The Lasaran by Dianne Duvall
North Bound and Warlord Reunited by Cynthia Sax
Storm’s End by Justin Bell and Mike Kraus
Solitude by Dean M. Cole
Cold Storage by David Koepp (I so wanted more books by him but this is apparently his first)
Culture Shock by M. C. Herron
The Summer I Dared by Barbara Delinsky (a re-read of one of my favorites)
It’s Not All Downhill from Here by Terry McMillan
In Five Years by Rebecca Serle
Problem Child by Victoria Helen Stone
Paladin by Anna Hackett
Smoke Bitten by Patricia Briggs
Rock Hard (a re-read of a favorite) and Love Hard by Nalini Singh
Ull by M. K. Eidem
Break the Fall by Jennifer Iacopelli
The Matrimonial Advertisement by Mimi Matthews
Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank (I've re-read that one SO many times)
Mercy by Tara Ellis and Mike Kraus
Lethal Game by Christine Feehan
Dauntless by Lisa Henry
The Women in Black by Madeleine St. John (I’d seen the movie, set in Australia, post-WWII)
Sweep With Me by Ilona Andrews
Shards of Hope and Shield of Winter by Nalini Singh (more beloved re-reads)
Malice by Pintip Dunn
Thanatos by Kris Michaels (I love this romantic suspense series)
Fais Do Do Die by Pauline B Jones
On A Sea of Glass by Tad Fitch, J. Kent Layton, Bill Wormstedt
The Ship of Dreams by Gareth Russell
Fate of the Tala by Jeffe Kennedy
The first ten books of the McClane Apocalypse series by Kate Morris
A few of my own backlist, checking on plot points or for other reasons, including Star Cruise: Marooned and Aydarr…
I have a HUGE To Be Read list on the kindle, including lots of new SFR I can’t wait to dive into when I finish the current WIP. There’s no science, logic or criteria for what order I follow when reading the waiting books. I kind of riffle through the list and grab what seizes my fancy at the moment and off I go. So it might be a title newly arrived on the kindle or one that’s been waiting a month or two. I check my Amazon Devices & Content list from time to time to ferret out books I’ve held unread for so long I forgot them (horrors!) and bring them up to read and enjoy.
Happy reading to you!