How Do You Read?

I met yesterday with my real life writers’ group, and after doing some critiques, we—as we usually do—chatted a bit about what we’re watching and reading.  And one of the interesting things to me was how differently some of us function as writers and readers.

When I’m actively writing a book or novella, I struggle to read. When I do read then, I usually read outside of genre. I can read mystery or romance or non-fiction…but reading fantasy just doesn’t work.

The thing that I struggle with is my internal editor. My brain, as it’s reading, wants to restructure every sentence, swap paragraphs four and seven, and change all the dialog tags. And after a time, I’m not reading the story any longer…I’m only looking at words. And then I stop caring about the story. It’s weird.

(There are rare exceptions to this. I can, for example, read an author whose style is wildly different from mine—let’s say, Ben Aaronovitch—and for some reason, the internal editor turns off.)

Because of this, I usually build up a bunch of reading to do between projects. So I’ll finish writing a book and then read voraciously for a while before turning back to writing again. I usually schedule time for that.

One of my writer friends, however, said that she has no problem reading while she’s writing. She’s a very disciplined reader, and tackles a poem, a short story, and a bit of novel reading every day. WOW!

And a third threw in the point that she doesn’t re-read things…whereas I can reread books over again and again. (I also have no problem with spoilers in movies or TV, which may be related.)

I always find it fascinating that writers have such different approaches to reading, so I thought I would see if there were other opinions out there. Here are a few questions:

  1. Do you reread books?
  2. Do you read in a disciplined manner? Or do you read in a haphazard, on-and-off, when-the-mood-takes-you fashion?
  3. Do you read exclusively within genre? Or do you read outside genres?
  4. Do you read the newest stuff immediately? Do you read only some authors immediately? Or are you, like me, constantly behind the reading curve?
  5. Do you binge read?
  6. And for writers: Is there a difference in reading habits between when you’re actively writing and when you’re not?

Bonus question: How big IS your TBR pile? (photos welcome)

HOW DO YOU READ?

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3 comments

  1. From Ariana (posted over on my FB)

    1.Do you reread books? Yes, a select few.

    2.Do you read in a disciplined manner? Or do you read in a haphazard, on-and-off, when-the-mood-takes-you fashion?
    Haphazard, multiple books at a time. it doesn’t help that i’m a slow reader.

    3.Do you read exclusively within genre? Or do you read outside genres?
    usually within genre but more nonfiction than fiction

    4.Do you read the newest stuff immediately? Do you read only some authors immediately? Or are you, like me, constantly behind the reading curve?
    a few favs are read fairly soon but generally constantly behind. majority of my books are from Gutenberg Free Press.

    5.Do you binge read? when i’m avoiding something

    6.And for writers: Is there a difference in reading habits between when you’re actively writing and when you’re not? i try not to binge on one particular writer. Her/his voice taints my voice. i’ll never read a fiction story simliar to what i’m currently writing.

    Bonus question: How big IS your TBR pile? (photos welcome)
    Two book shelves and a long list in my Amazon shopping cart primarily to order from ILL (if Amazon only knew…)

  2. Do you reread books? – From time to time.

    Do you read in a disciplined manner? Or do you read in a haphazard, on-and-off, when-the-mood-takes-you fashion? Haphazard.

    Do you read exclusively within genre? Or do you read outside genres? In-genre when reading fiction, but I read a lot of non-fiction in many categories.

    Do you read the newest stuff immediately? Do you read only some authors immediately? Or are you, like me, constantly behind the reading curve? – A propagation delay measured in decades.

    Do you binge read? – never have time for that.

    And for writers: Is there a difference in reading habits between when you’re actively writing and when you’re not? – Actively writing I probably am not reading.

    Bonus question: How big IS your TBR pile? (photos welcome) – Might as well be infinite. There are books I will never get to.

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