This isn’t mine, I promise. I’ve been thinking instead about a recent group blog post I did over at SFSignal, where several writers talked about the books they liked best in 2014. They did not have to be new books….just books that the authors liked this last year.
One thing that got me thinking was the person who said “I am surprised that none of the Mind Meld guests had [Book X] on their lists, given the book’s popularity”…
Yeah, that’s a bit of a problem. When you ask writers what they’ve read for 2014, you’re probably not going to get the same list of books that readers read. Here’s why….
1) We are often hopelessly behind on our TBR list. Hopelessly.
As in, when our best friend’s book comes out, we don’t have time to read it. It sits on top of the dresser with 20 other books that we mean to read one of these days.
Also…for me, it’s actually difficult to read in genre while I’m actively writing. I have a great deal of trouble shutting off the internal editor at those times, and struggle not to whip out the red pen and rewrite the book I’m reading. Oddly, I have less trouble if I read out of genre. I don’t know why that’s the case.
Not every writer struggles with that, but it’s been a persistent problem for me for years.
I also have a huge TBR pile for research, which is part of the job, and usually takes priority…
2) We have writer friends. Lots of them.
Writers don’t make a ton of money, so we tend to use what funds we do have to buy our friends’ books first. In fact, most of us can’t even afford all our friends’ books.
So have we read Popular Author X? Maybe not. We may not have had the money or time to splurge on their books, no matter how popular they are.
3) Given 1 and 2 above, we often make our reading choices specifically to support other writers. If I have a friend with a debut novel coming out, I will almost certainly read their book before I spend time on the book with 6500 reviews on Amazon.
Of the 3 books I recommended on that blog post, 2 are by authors whom I know personally. Because given my limited reading time and limited budget, those are two that I actually made an effort to purchase and set aside time specifically to read (both while on vacation, so they wouldn’t interfere with my writing.)
FWIW, I also read and enjoyed all of Ashley Gardner’s Captain Lacey Mysteries during that period, several Romance novels, and a handful of other genre novels. But then I had to get back to work, and reading time became research time…
Anyhow, writers often haven’t read that popular book. (And people -regularly- ask us that, by the way…so I’ll say here that I’ve never read anything by G.R.R. Martin, Brandon Sanderson, or Robert Jordan. You don’t need to bother to ask me….)