Reading with an agenda
Can I make a confession? There's one thing I'm not liking about being an aspiring writer. It's muddied my enjoyment as a reader a bit. I once wrote a post defending the readers right to enjoyment, but if you are a writer, reading is not purely about enjoyment any more which is ironic since love of reading is likely what led you to writing in the first place.
Reading can become something you do to study, study what makes some books great and what doesn't. To understand what people are reading and why. To discover what's new in the marketplace. To try to find where you fit in the publishing world.
I like to study, to dissect books. I loved writing papers about literature in school. But I also like to be swept away when I read and just let it take me somewhere without this sort of observer always peering over my shoulder saying things like "Now the reason this characters is so compelling is..." and "Wow, I can't believe they put so much backstory in the first chapter, I thought everyone said not to do that!".
I struggled a bit lately with exactly what to read. One side of me wants to read whatever tickles my fancy. It could be mystery, YA, fantasy, women's fiction, literary fiction, sci-fi, and even nonfiction. But the writing side of me tells me I should be reading in my genre. Even though I struggle to define my genre, the writing side of me lectures myself when I pick up YA book or a mystery because I know I have no plans to write in those genres. I like to tell myself I can still learn from them and I think I can, but I know I'm lacking that laser focus area of expertise on my genre that a lot of industry professionals would advocate.
Sigh. What's an omnivorous reader to do?