Thursday, June 9, 2011
So...What Are You Reading These Days?
-- Beth Groundwater
Writers, good writers at least, must first of all be readers. Of course, we need to read widely in our genre, to see what kinds of voices, plots, characters, and settings are selling these days, and to see where our own work fits within the genre. We read to study the craft, to understand better what works--and what doesn't work. But, we also read for pure pleasure, and that reading may or may not occur within our own writing genre.
I write mystery novels, so of course I read a lot of mystery novels. In fact, of the 360 books that are on my Goodreads shelves right now, half (180) are mysteries. But the other half range across a variety of genres. For instance, I've recently read two romances by two heavy-weight bestselling authors, Moon Over Water by Debbie Macomber and The Burning Point by Mary Jo Putney. Both are the type of romance I prefer, concentrating on the relationship between the hero and heroine and the forces that conspire to keep them apart versus what I call "plumbing details." I often include a romantic subplot in my mysteries, and it's good for me to learn from masters of the craft like these two.
I'm in a book club that reads and discusses literary, mainstream, women's fiction, memoir, and nonfiction books monthly. I'm in this group precisely because it pushes me to read books I otherwise might never have selected. Our book this month is Room by Emma Donoghue. I describe it as a cross between The Lovely Bones and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, both books that blew me away. For the same reason, I was enthralled by Room--the voice of the narrating character. Room is well worth the read. The book we read last month was Somewhere Inside: One Sister's Captivity in North Korea and the Other's Fight to Bring Her Home by Laura and Lisa Ling. Another fascinating read, primarily because of the complex machinations of all the behind-the-scenes international politics.
I also stepped out of my comfort zone in the mystery genre into the gritter thriller genre to finally read the Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson, which I received as a Christmas gift. The violence wasn't as graphic as I was dreading it would be, and all three books were fascinating reads, though I enjoyed the second one the most. Back in my comfort zone, I'm starting to read the books by other Midnight Ink authors that I acquired at this year's Malice Domestic conference. The first one I finished, Bingo Barge Murder by Jessie Chandler was a fun, comedic caper and a delightful read. I've learned to trust acquisition editor Terri Bischoff's judgment in picking Midnight Ink's stable of quality authors and books, so I'm sure I'll enjoy the other MI books on my TBR (to be read) pile.
In fact, now is YOUR chance to plunge into the Midnight Ink catalogue for a minimal investment and read some of my fellow MI authors' books. For the month of June, Midnight Ink is discounting or giving away the first book in some of their authors' series in ebook form. June Bug by Jess Lourey is free. Death of a Cozy Writer by G. M. Malliet and Murder on the Rocks by Karen MacInerney are $1.99 each. And Paper, Scissors, Death by Joanna Campbell Slan is only 99 cents.
I've read most of these books, and I can tell you that you won't be disappointed! Give them all a try. For the price of a fancy coffee drink, you'll have five great mysteries on your e-reader. Hopefully one or more of these mysteries will hook you enough that you'll read the rest of the series--and check out the rest of Midnight Ink's catalog, including my own Deadly Currents. :)
Okay, enough about me and what I've been reading. Let's go back to the title of this post. So, what are YOU reading these days? Got any great suggestions for me or our blog readers?