R is for Reading Outside Your Genre (and Giveaway Results!)

Before I begin today’s real post, I wanted to quickly announce the winners of my recent giveaway (from 100 Posts and 1,000 Followers). I’m still extremely touched, and so inspired by everyone who has taken time out of their lives to comment on my blog this month and all the months before it, and am more than thrilled to announce the winners, as follows:

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GRAND PRIZE: Liz Blocker
1st Place: Diana
2nd Place: S Dot Love
3rd Place: Donna A. Leahey

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 10.16.54 PMAll winners were drawn by a randomizer online. Thank you to everyone who participated! Liz, Diana, S, and Donna–– check out your prizes again on the original post, and then email me at info@alex-hurst.com with your requests. Congratulations again!

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Now, on to the “R” post!

It goes without saying that writers should read. There is a famous quote by Laura Lippman, to this effect:

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I’ve already talked about this several times on my blog this month, the importance of reading, but I would add to that a profound importance of reading outside of your genre, and even your demographic.

Of course, what I mean is, if you’re a traditionally published author, you should also read indie, and self-published books. Same goes in reverse. If you are a U.S. American, you should be reading books from international sources (and not just European ones). Read books that have been translated, books that are written for people outside your age group (supposedly).

If you love reading and writing fantasy, read history. Read science, and culture, and things deeply devoted to facts. After all, truth is stranger than fiction. If you are a hard-boiled crime lover, check out something in a different aisle, perhaps even a contemporary, slice-of-life novel.

There’s so many reasons that this is important, but I’ll only touch on a couple here: for one, you don’t want to box yourself in. Staying stagnant in your genre is one of the quickest ways to get caged in by perceived tropes and recycled plots, whereas I’ve maybe gotten some of my best ideas for fantasy by reading memoirs, or historical non-fiction.

And second, well, you never know what you might end up liking. That’s why this year I am going to read in a genre I have never read before: romance. I’m not going to pick up some bodice ripper, where I know I’ll just get my stereotypes of the genre possibly confirmed. Rather, I’m going to pick up some romances based on recommendations. So… what say you, readers––have some to recommend to a long-time genre fiction reader?

Tomorrow: S is for Story, My Story!

21 thoughts on “R is for Reading Outside Your Genre (and Giveaway Results!)

  1. I have absolutely no recommendations to give you in the romance genre. The only romances I’ve ever read were the Jane Austen novels (minus Emma), and Jane Eyre. Of Austen’s books, let me just say that there’s a reason Pride and Prejudice is the most famous…

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  2. I try to read outside my genre from time to time. My book club tends to introduce me to books I would never pick up on my own. They have introduced me to memoir, romance, and YA books that I have enjoyed more than I thought I would.

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  3. I love to read something different. I found it easier to do when I started to listen to audiobooks. Although I’m a dark fiction / horror fan, I’ve read and enjoyed historical fiction, non-fiction and even paranormal romance! Just got to open your mind.

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  4. I don’t read outside my genre while I’m writing. I love new shiny and sparkly things, and inspiration is everywhere, so I don’t want any new ideas while I’m working on something else. But once I’m done with a book, I like to read in other genres. 🙂

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    1. Good points, all around. It’s hard for me to find a book that helps me stay in the mood for my current WIP, and that can definitely be a problem!

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  5. I feel like I’m always playing catch up to read in my genre (both YA and MG) but I do get back to the thrillers I enjoy from time to time. I’d love to read more indie and support truly good indie writers. But it’s so hard to weed out the hastily published. Reviews by friends don’t help. I only read the bad reviews to find if there might only be small negatives and that they’re things that won’t make me smash my kindle!
    Marlene at On Writing and Riding

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  6. I totally agree with you about the need for authors to read voraciously and in many genres. I’ve always done just that, partially because reading in only one gets sort of boring after a while. And there are so many wonderful books out there!

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  7. I hate the rather pervasive advice that says “only read your genre.” What the heck? I mean, really, what the heck? But you see that everywhere. That’s almost the worst advice ever.

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    1. Thanks for the recs! Those covers are quite awesome, haha. I like a little tongue-in-cheek in my books, so these look like a great place to start. 🙂

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  8. I will respond to your romance recommendation request! Let me tell you first, a little over two years ago, I still referred to romance as “bodice rippers” and may have even made a Fabio reference. I attended a regional Romance Writers of America writing conference and ended up joining the local chapter. My eyes have been opened! They are a great org.

    There are some subgenres of romance I’m just never going to be into, but here are a few recs that may work for you:

    Sharon Sala: she has a huge catalog. Her romantic suspense novels move along pretty well and have a good sense of suspense and mystery.

    There’s also Nora Roberts, who’s up there with the top earners like Stephen King, though personally I’m not a fan of her writing (though this is based on one book and she has a million)

    Kristan Higgins: these are contemporary, funny romances. If you want to get into the psyche (and neurosis) of the female mind, and laugh, she does this niche so well.

    Tracey Devlyn: A Lady’s Revenge. Don’t let the fancy lady cover deter you; there’s espionage and spies in this suspenseful historical.

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    1. Wow! Thank you so much! I really appreciate it. 😀 I’ll be checking out all but Nora Roberts, mainly because I tend to be disappointed by the top earners, haha. Looking forward to all the different styles to sample.

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  9. I read loads of romance but of the bodice ripper sort so I don’t know if my recommendation would be accepted 🙂 But if I could recommend a book, though not in the romance genre, I’d like to recommend The Fault in our Stars by John Green, it’s Young Adult with Romance. Personally, I read all sorts of genre: historical fiction, SF, Fantasy, Non-fiction, Romance, YA, everything. And my writing also crosses these genres 🙂

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    1. I’ve read aFiOS. I was one of those who preordered early in hopes of getting an autograph (didn’t 😦 intl. mix-up), but it was a good story. I’ll accept a bodice-ripper, for sure… give me your favorite! 😀

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