It is said that if you want to write, read. It is also important that you read widely. While I do tend to go on reading tangents in a particular genre, lately I find myself consciously following the sage advice of selecting from a diverse range of material. I also have discovered that I enjoy having more than one book on the go at a time. Who knew?
During my blue pencil at the Surrey International Writers' Conference with Susanna Kearsley, she recommended I check out Genevieve Graham as a comparable to my 18th century historical novel. Her novels definitely parallel the time-frame and setting of Raven's Path. And, despite the implication of the covers, these books also challenge the category of romance. They are historical adventure with a strong element of romance, but break the tropes in too many ways to pass as a traditional romance. It is what I hope I have accomplished with Raven's Path. I couldn't read just one and quickly devoured the trilogy. She is dabbling in another era now and her latest, Tides of Honour, is near the top of my TBR pile.
I just finished The French Executioner by C.C. Humphreys. As historical fantasy, it was a departure from my normal reading selection. I was engaged from the opening sentence, and following the quest of the warm humorous characters was thoroughly entertaining. I have his Jack Absolute series on my bookshelf and will be delving into those in the near future. As an added bonus, both Graham and Humphreys are Canadian. I love supporting our own.
I had a yen to rediscover old favourites and read Wildfire at Midnight by Mary Stewart on my Kobo. Since I enjoyed the French Executioner so much, I think I will need to dig out Stewart's Merlin series. When I was thirteen, I fell in love with Mary Stewart and that series in particular. Yep. Definitely up for some more historical fantasy.
I find my time on the elliptical tedious. Reading makes it pass, but it has to be light. My brain is too busy trying to convince me to stop the torture to focus on anything dense. Plus, it must be a Kindle download, so that I can read it easily and change the page with a quick tap on the iPad. My current elliptical reading is a book by a fellow member of the writers' forum I haunt. Hands-On Therapy by TL Watson is pure erotica and, by the end of each session, I'm not quite sure if it's the exercise or the reading that's making me sweat. J
I dip into craft books regularly, often revisiting ones that have been most enlightening. I bought Stephen King's On Writing while at the Surrey conference, but have only just started it. It is perfect for bits and bites reading, much like DH approaches his magazines.
As I write within such a spectrum of genre now, I try to continue researching much in the way I read the craft books. I have a variety of nonfiction books strewn about the house at any given time, and pick them up when the mood strikes or when I need a change of pace. My latest purchase is The Profligate Son by Nicola Phillips. It is a little different than my usual research books as it is literary nonfiction—a reconstruction of a real Regency-era family from letters and court documents.
While I read many a young adult novel in my role as adolescent literacy consultant, I have let my collection slip. Now that I am writing in that genre, it has begun to grow once again. This weekend I plan to lose myself in Dumplin' by Julie Murphy. It has been highly reviewed but probably the best, most telling praise, came from the clerk at checkout. She picked it up and caressed the cover. "Oh, this is so good!" That certainly made it go to the top of the TBR pile. J
And finally, the reading material that has not left my side for the last few weeks and makes me smile every time I look at it? West Coast Seeds' Gardening Guide 2016. It is early February and I can read this now and not just dream about spring. This weekend I will start seeds in my new little greenhouse and, get this, I can sow some in the ground by the end of the month! How can I not smile?