I’ve been a reader even longer than I’ve been a writer. Longer than I’ve had the dream of being a writer. And even through long days of spinning stories and fine-tuning words, I’ve never let go of reading. In fact, I’ve continued to devour books at a pace that always astounds me.
But I began to notice something as I read through 2014. Somewhere in my author life, my reader-self went from reading books I found intriguing to reading books I felt I ought to read.
Don’t get me wrong. It isn’t that I haven’t enjoyed many, many of the books I’ve read over the past decade. But many of them are not necessarily the books I would have picked up of my own accord. I picked them up because it was important to read what Christian publishers were publishing in the genre I wanted to write. I picked them up because I knew the authors. I picked them up because they were what thousands of readers of Christian fiction were reading, and I needed to know why.
But reader-me, just like plain-ole-me, isn’t really a “follow the crowd” kind of gal. And so while I’ve been reading what I felt I ought to read, I’ve still been accumulating the books I’ve wanted to read. Don’t get me wrong: some of those are still books written by my friends, books published for the Christian market. But some are not. Some of those books have spent time on the big bestseller lists. Some of have not. Some of those books are historical fiction. Some are not. In fact, some are not fiction at all!
And so I’ve declared 2015 as the year of reading for me, of reading books I find intriguing, whether or not the masses or the critics agree. I will read without regard to publication date, meaning many titles that are old or obscure or ones I’ve read one or a dozen times already. I will read books that pull me in immediately, and I will put down the ones that don’t–even if I’ve paid full price for them. I will read books that stretch my view of the world. Of history. Of God. Books that make me think. Teach me something new. Take me different places.
But most of all, I hope to read books that inspire me to write the stories that reflect my truest self. For in the end, my reading feeds my writing. And I want my work to reflect who I am, not who I feel I ought to be.