To the writers out there I ask, “Do you read other writers’ works without being asked? Why do you read them? Is it because everybody else is reading those books? Or do you take a chance and pick books at random? Someone recently said, “If you read what everybody else is reading, you will think what everybody else is thinking.”
I’m simply curious! These are some of my reasons for reading others’ works:
- I want to stay positively engaged and reading relaxes me.
- I read different authors’ works but I do limit my genres and steer away from being too alarmed or horrified.
- Reading opens my mind to a variety of topics, settings and scenarios.
- It allows me to study other writers’ writing styles. I notice their uses of language, vocabulary, colloquialisms, puns, metaphors, similes or whatever literary elements they happen to use.
- Lately, I have been reading less chick-lit and I am making a conscious effort to read more works written by men. It helps me to understand how they think so when I do attempt to write in a male voice, I hopefully sound more believable.
- Reading others’ books gives me new perspectives as I chew, digest and ponder what has been written.
- It expands my thinking and others’ writings transport me to places that I would never visit on my own volition.
- Ultimately, I have more to write about when the muses inspire me to put pen to paper.
On rare occasions, I will read a book that is wildly popular but I do not choose books from the Bestsellers’ List. However, I read The Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance during the Fourth of July weekend. When I posted my online review, I could not believe the huge number of people who were also posting their opinions about the book at that same time.
I normally choose random books which some may consider to be ‘off the beaten path.’ I find my treasures either on the public library’s New Book Shelf or from a used bookstore. Yet, every book I read impacts me in some way.
Some aperture is opened. Some new slant is gained and some veil is pierced after completing each book or story. Oodles of enlightenment rain down because every work somehow changes me as it opens up new worlds of thought and wider points of view.
Charles de Gaulle said, “Don’t ask me who’s influenced me. A lion is made up of the lambs he’s digested and I’ve been reading all of my life.”
So writers, I ask, “What do you gain from reading others’ books?”
Lynn M. July 29, 2017
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