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Do You Read A Lot? Do You Read Outside Your

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Old 11-30-2006, 08:47 AM
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Comfort Zone???

I think I do - I read at least one work of fiction per week - generally during my commute to the day job. Sometimes, I can read 2 if they are shorter, or it may take longer than a week for a really hefty opus.

I read mostly in my own genre, mystery, but have been branching out lately to include lit fic, humor, thriller, history and young adult.

I find having all those interesting stories and other authors' words spinning around helps to jump start my short fiction writing.

I just finished several Linda Fairstein mystery novels and a literary fiction work, Light on Snow by Anita Shreve - clearly this last one was out of my usual reading depth, stretching what I thought would be interesting and forcing me to confront fiction that is not within my usual comfort zone.

How do you use what you read in what you write? Is it the perspective of different works, or the language, or the author's predictability/unpredictability? What draws you to read, and them what do you take from it?

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Old 11-30-2006, 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Kate Thornton View Post
Do You Read A Lot? Do You Read Outside Your Comfort Zone???
I've always been a fairly picky reader, even in my comfort zone (classical/mainstream/contemporary literature.) I doubt if I ever read more than one book in any given month and my average is much less than that now that I'm older.

However, I'm very glad I strayed outside my comfort zone into one genre -- the classic noir/crime fiction of authors such as Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and Elmore Leonard. Aside from being wonderfully entertaining, their books strangely enough helped me develop my own writing style for mainstream fiction.
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Old 03-19-2008, 05:44 AM
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I'm a very picky reader. My favourite Genre, Fantasy, has got loads of good stories but also loads of not so good stories. Sometimes I find that not all Fantasy books quench my reading thirst and so I have a horrible habit of buying a book, reading a bit and then leaving it.

But I don't tend to read books out of my comfort zone. Occasionally I might read a horror novel or a Science Fiction story but that is incredibly rare, it has to be the right kind of book to get my attention.
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Old 03-19-2008, 10:12 AM
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I still haven't figured out what my comfort zone is. I'll read anything (and do so voraciously) that keeps my attention.
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Old 03-19-2008, 11:17 AM
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A few years ago I was teasing a friend of mine about his love of fantasy and sci-fi - you know, calling him a geek, comparing him to 'Comic Book Guy' from the Simpsons, that sort of thing - bringing out all the old stereotypes. He refused to accept this, of course, saying that I had no idea what I was talking about.

He challenged me to read a book of his choosing in each genre and said that if I could honestly maintain my position that they were formulaic piles of poo after having read them, then he would submit to being called Cosmos Lazerbottom, Lord of the Geeks, forevermore. Well, being the tolerant, fair-minded woman that I am, and never one to turn down a challenge, I agreed. The fantasy offering was by David Eddings, I think, and the sci-fi was Iain M Banks (or is it Iain Banks - I forget which he uses for which genre,) and much as I hate to admit it, I loved them both. When he bought me the first book in George R R Martin's Fire and Ice series for my birthday shortly afterwards, I was totally hooked and have since devoured the rest of the series. I still think that they are some of the best books - not just in the fantasy genre, but in general - that I have ever read.

So that's the story of how I stepped out of my comfort zone, dropped my genre snobbery and embraced my inner geek. Sort of.
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Old 03-20-2008, 07:31 AM
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I have been part of a book group at my local library for the last 3 yrs that "forces" you to read things you might not ordinarily pick up if left to your own devices. I have loved obscure books on science, finance, biographies on people I might not have given a crap about, and all sorts of goodies. I never would have thought to read Lauren Slater's Lying if not for my friend Kathy and Slater writes some of the most amazing prose I've ever read...all b/c, strangely enough, she is usually shelved in the psychology section. I would describe her work as creative nonfiction. So yuh just nevva know.
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Old 03-20-2008, 08:18 AM
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I normally only read Romance and I realize that I really need to broaden my horizons I guess you can say. Then again, I have read some chick lit. I do find that reading does interfere with my writing though. I love reading and once I start a book, providing it's good, I definitely need to finish it. It all has to do with that time factor. Not enough hours in the day.
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Old 03-20-2008, 08:44 AM
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Not really. For example, if I buy something that requires assembly or the reading a manual before using, I'll start reading but get bored and walk away. Okay, that's not real reading, but it is outside my comfort zone as a technophobe.

Bookwise, I'm not into sports books (although I did read Gavin Hasting's), celebrity anything, chick lit, hard sci-fi or LOTR-style fantasy. I prefer history, classic literature and reference books, but will happily read sci-fi, some fantasy, horror, true crime, humour, poetry, general fiction and whatever else takes my fancy.
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Old 03-21-2008, 07:01 PM
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Something outside of my comfort zone would have to be romance. I've tried to read them (my mom sends me boxes full of the romance novels she's finished) but can't get past the first couple of chapters. I end up laughing at phrases like 'her heaving bosoms' or 'steel encased in velvet.' I donate the ones mom sends me to the library.
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Old 03-25-2008, 01:59 PM
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My comfort zone is mostly drama. okay, maybe only drama. haha I've really tried to break out of it, trying out some mysteries or more abstract contemporary stuff but it really doesn't do anything for me. For me, these other genres doesn't feel real enough. I guess it reflects my own poetry and writing, I tend to dramatize and emphasis the emotional aspect of my writing therefore I look for books that are similar.
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Old 03-25-2008, 05:44 PM
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I read a book a day.

Or try to.
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Old 04-19-2008, 07:45 AM
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I try and read as broadly as I can - at least in terms of fiction. Nonfiction I move around depending on what I am researching or interested in. It's like travel, if you don't explore outside your own home town, how are you going to know what else the world has to offer?
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Old 05-05-2008, 08:50 AM
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I read a lot. Fiction, non-fiction, novels and short stories. I don't think there's a particular genre I've rejected out of hand. I do have my favorite authors in each genre. I like Dick Francis and Rex Stout for mysteries, Ann McCaffrey for sci-fi. You can't beat Patrica Wrede for fantasy. There's so many great books out there, I only hope one day my short stories will be as popular.

I don't think I have an 'uncomfortable' reading zone. If it was written, it was meant to be read, by me!
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Old 05-05-2008, 05:45 PM
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I've been really into Western novels the past couple of years, Louis L'Amour is an amazing author, and I'll read anything he writes.
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Old 05-05-2008, 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Phenominal TJ View Post
I've been really into Western novels the past couple of years, Louis L'Amour is an amazing author, and I'll read anything he writes.
Oooh. Good choice! Have you read The Walking Drum yet?
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Old 05-05-2008, 09:50 PM
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I'd like to read a whole lot more than I actually do.
I've got a "book habit", which means I buy TONS of books, but rarely get around to reading them...
Lately, I've been on a classics being, buying up the Penguin Classics (they're really, really cheap) and I've already got a shelf full of 'em...
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Old 07-10-2008, 02:33 PM
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I would definitely classify myself as one of the pickiest readers around. I will ONLY read fantasy, sience fiction, and maybe some realistic fiction involving spies or marines (ex. Tom Clancy, Alex Rider). Even within the genres, I'm very picky about it. If I pick up a book that is not to my liking, I will usaully stop reading it within the first few pages.
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Old 07-10-2008, 03:06 PM
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My comfort zone is action/adventure, crime, or an occasional mystery. But I'm a bookworm through and through. I'll read anything. I once had a hospital appointment that overran the specified time by ninety minutes. The only literature available to me was a bridal magazine! Suffice it to say, I did not enjoy reading it, but I read it nevertheless! It passed the time. It also made me realise that getting married is not on the list of things to do for a while yet!
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Old 07-10-2008, 03:20 PM
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Cor! You are one up on me, SD. I have never read a bridal magazine. Soup cans, yes, but not bridal stuff. Too late now anyway. The King will not be deposed.
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Old 07-10-2008, 04:26 PM
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LOL, Queen.

Oh, and how could I forget Techno-Thrillers?
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Old 07-10-2008, 10:11 PM
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My comfort zone is pretty much just fantasy, horror and a little bit of sci-fi. I have been trying to find stuff to read outside of that though. I've wanted to read some classics, chick lit, contemporary, nonfiction, poetry... It usually just ends with me buying books I'll never read. I ought to just go to the library and grab anything at hand to get over being so picky.
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Old 07-11-2008, 06:28 AM
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I read everything and I read alot of it. If human beings could physically devour books, I would be doing it. I read at least six or seven novels per week, of nearly any genre. My favorites to read are fantasy, sci-fi, horror, suspense, and humor. You won't catch me reading romance, but sometimes historical fiction. Basically, I take my backpack to the library, browse the shelves by alphabetical order (I'm in the C's right now) and load up on anything that looks interesting until my backpack is roughly the weight and size of a bull elephant. I take it home and read what I've got, then repeat the process the following week. I love to read, and I've loved reading ever since I learned at around five or six, and before that, when I couldn't read, I'd be pestering my parents to read me something. If they were too busy I'd generally go to the bookshelf and try it myself, only to get frustrated and end up eating the book instead. I guess that's where my appetite for reading comes from.

What do I do with the things I read? Well, if I see some trick that I really like, I start wondering how I could do that, and it occaisionally leads to a new plot idea or twist. Or sometimes I just look and see where to put commas. I don't really try to study and analyze what I read. I read for the pure pleasure of it, but I can't help instinctively preying on cool things that my favorite writers do. From Robert Jordan I learned how cool similes can be, from Aaron Allston I got some great ideas on witty dialogue, from R.A Salvatore I learned the finer nuances of fight scenes, Dean Koontz helped me to make my characters more convincing, Kevin J. Anderson gave me a few pointers on the art of epic sagas, David B. Coe is even now in the process of teaching me the role of politics in fantasy (I'm going to have to put some extra effort into that one), Brandon...someone...the author of "Elantris" gave me an idea or two about civilization, political divisions, and political play...this list is going on much too long. I'm not sure which author you can blame for that.
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Old 08-12-2008, 04:01 PM
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What I really hate are those books with conflicts like, "Will she get a date?" "Will she be popular this school year?", etc. I never read those.
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Old 08-20-2008, 06:14 AM
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I rarely read anything outside of what I have to read for school. My comfort zone is television and I do that a lot. It's my main inspiration.
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Old 08-22-2008, 04:55 AM
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I read every night when im in bed. I find thats the only time i ever get to these days, I read anything i can get my hands on, mainly my favourite types are romance, comedy and fantasy. mixed together that would be my dream novel.
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Old 09-03-2008, 11:26 AM
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Yea, I definitely read a lot. It helps to boost vocabulary and writing sense, making it easier for you as a writer.
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Old 09-06-2008, 02:30 AM
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I am a seriously picky reader. I can never read something that is not humorous or non-stop action!
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Old 09-06-2008, 02:46 AM
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Well, I suppose age comes into consideration.

But when I was about 12, I think, I remember reading, for the first time, The Remains of the Day (Kazuo Ishiguro), and The Glass Palace (Amitav Ghosh) and Never Let Me Go (Again, Ishiguro)... adult books, really.

My seriousness in reading chocie was only ever deterred by the illuminating fantasy once in a while. I actually used to enjoy fantasies... but now, all of them seem to be so similar, I don't bother anymore.
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Old 09-06-2008, 09:28 AM
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I also read a lot of what would be considered adult fiction when I was younger. I remember reading The Collector by John Fowles during lunch break in school one day. The nun asked me what it was about, so I told her it was about a man who collected butterflies. That wasn't a complete lie, but she was a nun. I wasn't exactly going to tell her what he decided to collect instead of butterflies, was I?
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Old 09-09-2008, 08:51 AM
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I don't really care about what I read and can read anything as long as it's well written and plotted well.
My favoute writers are H.P. Lovecraft, Dulton Trumbo and Thomas Pynchon.
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