One of my goals for 2017 was to spend the first six months only reading “new to me” fiction. That meant no rereading my favorite books or even reading “new” books from my favorite authors. I wanted six months devoted to discovering authors and works I’d never heard of, and I was successful. Between January and June 2017, I read 20 books, which taught me a few lessons along the way...
1. There are some great stories out there.
I loved The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson; Sentence of Marriage by Shayne Parkinson; A Thousand Fiendish Angels by J. F. Penn; Marking Time by April White. I would have missed out on these stories if I hadn’t opened myself to trying new books and new genres.
2. There are also some lousy books.
I’m not going to list any specifically in this post because I know how hard writing is, but you’re always welcomed to check out my bookshelf on Goodreads.
3. Reading well-developed stories (as well as crummy stories) has helped me be a better writer.
As I read each book, I paid attention to what I liked/disliked, what intrigued me, and what made me give up on a book, then I applied my notes to my own novels. My readers deserve the best stories I can deliver.
4. It’s okay to not finish a book.
Learning to not finish a book was another goal of mine for 2017, and I’ve finally accomplished it. In the past, even when a book has sucked, I would still feel compelled to finish it. However, after discovering a lot of duds the past six months, I can proudly say I have no problem setting aside a book I dislike.
5. Goodreads is awesome.
I had heard of Goodreads before I challenged myself to read new fiction, but it wasn’t until this year that I discovered how much I love Goodreads. I prefer reviewers on Goodreads and came to depend on them as I shuffled through the sea of new authors and books. I’ve never been diligent about leaving reviews on Amazon, but using Goodreads has pushed me to be better about book reviews (even if all I do is rate the book). And more than any other social media site, I’ve been depending on Goodreads for book recommendations. As an author who needs to improve her marketing, this lesson has made me realize I need a marketing overhaul.
6. There are so many other genres out there besides fantasy.
You probably already knew that, but as a fantasy writer, I tend to gravitate to reading fantasy. However, I’ve enjoyed historical romance, western, horror, and classical literature. But fantasy is still my favorite ;)
Have you ever challenged yourself to read new authors, stories, or genres? What’s your current reading list look like?