Are You Reading Enough?

If you’re reading this post, that means that you’re probably a reader, an author, or a lost internet-wanderer. 😉 (I’m glad you found me!) Basically, it means you probably have a thing for books. You are so not alone.

But I want to take a moment and talk to the writers out there–including those of you who think you might want to be a writer someday. I want talk reading. It’s hard enough to find time to write a novel, let alone read other people’s novels. Trust me, I’ve been there–when I look back at the year and realize I read as many books as fingers on my right hand.

But…it must be done. (And you want to anyway…)

 

WHY? Why must we read?!

Because…reading is just as important as writing. You need to read to know story. I once edited for a client who wanted to be a fiction writer, but he’d only ever read one fiction book and didn’t want to read and didn’t watch movies. Thus, he had a real hard time with the concept of story and the writing/editing process was extremely difficult for him.

Here are a few reasons why you need to read:

1. Reading shows you what’s hot & what’s not.

If I had stopped reading the moment I started writing the Out of Time Series, then I would still be thinking that Hunger Games is the new big thing. I’d still hold to the thought that dystopian is “the genre of all genres” and I wouldn’t know anything about new subgenres like historical fantasy, and YA time travel, and steampunk.

I wouldn’t know what’s hot or what’s not hot on the bookstore shelves in my genre. So I make sure to read new releases every year. I write Young Adult fiction (YA) from a Christian standpoint, so you bet I’m keeping my eye on what’s hot on the YA general market shelves and on what my fellow authors from the CBA are writing.

authors reading books

2. Reading shows you good writing.

Aaaaaand it shows you bad writing. 😛 But let’s focus on the good right now. How do you learn what makes a tasty pie? YOU EAT PIES. And you think about them, and you evaluate them, and you steal recipes from your grandmother and take note of what made it particularly tasty.

How you learn what makes awesome movies? YOU WATCH MOVIES. And you analyze the bad ones from the good ones–take note of the things you liked and the things you hated. And then you spend two hours of popcorn munching thinking, “I can totally do that. And I can do it better.”

So go do it. Only with books. 😛

Read books. Take note of what you like and don’t like. Pay attention to phrases that impress you and words you don’t know and character arcs that shock your toe-socks off.

3. Reading inspires you to write.

Ever pick up a book that makes you just want to go WRITE? That happens to me when I read The Hunger Games or Unblemished or By Darkness Hid or Throne of Glass. And do you know what I do when I feel that urge? I PUT THE BOOK DOWN AND I GO WRITE. Yes. That is allowed. That is encouraged. Use your inspiration when you have it.

authors reading more books

4. Reading keeps you relatable to your readers.

Your readers aren’t just reading your books. I know. Shocker. They read other books and then they turn into rabid fans. And if you aren’t paying attention to what they’re fangirling/fanboying (fanmanning?) over, then how can you write something that is interesting to them?

 

But…but…HOW DO YOU MAKE TIME FOR READING?

If you’re an author, you probably KNOW that you are supposed to read. Trust me. I’ve been there. “Yes, I know I should be reading…a lot. But first let me clean the house, feed my husband, work one two full-time jobs, write a book and…now hate black words on white paper.” 😛

Very little explanation is needed on WHY we should read. (But I still gave it to you because reminders are beautiful things.) The bigger question is HOW?

Chip, chip, away!

Think of Stoic from How To Train Your Dragon. His analogy of pounding his head against a rock and eventually the rock broke into pieces. (You DO know what I’m talking about, right?) Chip away at it, my friend. One book at a time, even if it’s just a couple books a year. It’s a start! Then you can at least start the habit of reading, and you can build off of that. Another option is to…

Schedule it in

I know this seems to murder the romance in reading, but sometimes you just need to schedule in reading.

Reading is part of taking the job of author seriously. It took me a while to accept this (because, for some reason, I felt guilty for reading when I “should have been” writing. Phooey.) So I made Saturdays reading days. And then as hubby and I got in the habit of reading, then suddenly an evening a week became reading time. And now we end up reading 2-3 evenings every week and every Saturday and I’m able to get through 60-ish books a year! Woot! Woot! That’s enough for me to keep up with the new releases in my genre and read some old releases that I hadn’t gotten to yet.

Replace movie nights with a reading night.

This one took some more practice (because hubby and I are often brain dead by the end of the day), but hubby and I eventually started replacing a few movie nights a week or “TV nights” with reading night. Not only has it got me reading more frequently, but now hubby is reading more frequently too! #thebrainwashingisworking


There you have it–my advice on reading. It’s so important for authors to read and it’s a habit that can take a long time to build up. It’s okay if you choose reading over writing on certain days (just not on deadline days. *wink* ) In fact, if God has called you to write, you need to go at it with all your might–and that includes staying educated. That. Means. Reading.

So with that…what are you going to read next?

Do you ever have a hard time fitting in reading?

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About Nadine Brandes

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She never received her Hogwarts letter, but rest assured she’s no Muggle (and would have been in Ravenclaw House, thank you very much.) This Harry Potter super-nerd has been known to eat an entire package of Oreos (family size) by herself, and watches Fiddler on the Roof at least once a year. She writes about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her dystopian trilogy (The Out of Time Series) challenged her to pursue shalom, which is now her favorite word (followed closely by bumbershoot.) When Nadine’s not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she and her knight-in-shining armor (nickname: “hubby”) are out pursuing adventures.
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22 Comments

  1. Last year, I did over half my reading through audiobooks. They are a life saver for my long days in the office and my long commutes. But not a lot of Christian speculative fiction is on audiobook yet. *cries*

    • I need to get on this audiobook train. I’ve tried TWICE, but I just don’t have commutes and I feel like they take forever! 😛
      And yes, Christian fiction needs more audiobooks!

  2. In 2015 I realized I hadn’t read many books and I felt so sad. So for 2016 my New Year’s resolution was to read a chapter a day of whatever book I was reading. I created a Goodreads account to hold me accountable. And last year I read 50 books! I realized I had to choose to make time for it. Even if that meant waking up earlier to read, staying up later, taking a book with me everywhere I went in case there was any down time. I was so happy and fulfilled and felt like my bookworm self again. I kept the same resolution this year and am shooting for 52 books. Reading really is so important! Loved this post.

  3. Like Tricia, I’m a huge audiobook fan. Last year I read or listened to 88 books, 122 in 2015, and about 80 in 2014. Two months into 2017 and I’ve read or listened to 13 books plus have an audiobook and Kindle book partly finished. At the same time, I’ve managed to write “The End” on a draft manuscript (it was almost done in 2016), started editing it, and began plotting a full-length adaptation of one of my short stories. Needless to say, I’m not showing Netflix much love right now.
    Every night, I read at least a chapter or two in a book (sometimes more). I make it a point to listen to audiobooks when I am doing pretty much any household chore and try to take at least one walk (with earbuds) each day. I also have a waterproof speaker, so shower time can be optimized although it’s also when I brainstorm my stories, so I often opt for silence.

    • O.o WOW. That is a lot of audiobooks! And it’s okay if Netflix gets neglected. 😉

      And seriously, you are an audibook PRO. I’m going to give them another try.

  4. I don’t have a hard time finding time to read… I have a hard time finding books to read…

  5. I use a Goodreads reading challenge to keep track of the books I read each year. Last year I did 35, which is more than 2 books a month. Not bad for a super-busy homeschooling mom of 5 with her own book to write! I also only read hot books/bestsellers/otherwise really good books, because I don’t have time to read bad books. 🙂

    • I love that Goodreads challenge! That’s helped me read more each year, too. Way to go last year! I’m impressed!

      And I agree — life is too short for bad books. 😉

  6. Hannah Gaudette

    Noooo! I must read more!!!! I mean, can you read too much? Well, maybe if it meant the dishes were piled to the ceiling and the laundry started to smell bad. 🙂 My current reading projects are Mark of the King and The Beautiful Pretender, both raved-about Christian books. My Goodreads goal for this year is fifteen and so far I have read . . . . . . none. 🙁

  7. Rebekah Gyger

    I get those guilty feelings myself, especially the farther I get in a story and I’m just. So. Close. But I have learned that my writing ability is directly related to how much I read. If I don’t read, I lose all desire to write and everything I do write is just horrible. Luckily, my book review blog ensures that I always have something to read as well as a responsibility to do so, that way I can push through the guilty moments.

    • I’m with you there! When I’m not reading, my writing comes out AWFUL. Good thing you have your book review blog. 🙂 That will also help you with future writing deadlines.

  8. I don’t have too much trouble getting reading in because I know how much it inspires me. If I stop reading novels for a few weeks, I usually can only write nonfiction with much inspiration. I try to take a break every now in then so I don’t overload on plots! 🙂

  9. There is no such thing as reading ENOUGH. You can always read more, more, more! I love reading so much. I have a hard time deciding if I prefer reading or writing. 🙂 I enjoyed this post!

    Bethany
    bethanyr4Him.blogspot.com

  10. I notice a huge difference in my writing when I read in my spare time compared to when I don’t read at all. As you mentioned above, reading keeps you relateable, shows you good writing and new ways to use phrases, and shows you how to build appealing characters. So I always make sure to have reading time, now (plus it’s fun, and if a family member asks, you can say you’re studying the art of writing and not just indulging in reading pleasure. 😉 ).

I love hearing from you!