I don't read enough. My goal is to read a book a week, but I don't even come close. And I'm not one of those writers who can't read while I'm working on a book for fear my voice will pick up that of the book I'm reading. My voice is so constant I couldn't change it even if I wanted to. I've tried. It is what it is. And I'm really happy with that.
My point about reading books is that I feel it's really important for a writer to stay current on what's being published today, and not just in the genre he or she is writing. Especially since crossover fiction has become so popular. Different genres are good to explore for their own virtues, like plotting in a mystery, strong characterization in a good southern novel, the emotional power of a romance, the lyricism of a literary novel. Not to mention the tension that's so prevalent in thrillers, horror and suspense. Genre writers shouldn't discriminate against other genres. Diversify!
So what am I reading now? My TBR pile is half as tall as I am, but I'm just about finished with THE LOVELY BONES. I've had it on my shelf forever, and I've heard mixed reviews, so I wasn't sure if I even wanted to read it. I'm so glad I finally decided to crack it open. It's beautiful, and rich and sad and imaginative, all the things I love about compelling fiction. It's really interesting how Sebold bounces back and forth across her timeline. It confused me at first, but once I caught the rhythm it was easy to follow along.
I don't read a lot of literary fiction, but I enjoy it when I do. My only bias is against experimental fiction. I don't want to have to work hard to enjoy a book or short story. Alice Hoffman is my favorite literary author, though the distinction of that category might be debatable.
We have a little tabloid newspaper here in Bend called The Source that's very similar to The Westword that I was used to in Denver. Last week's Source featured four short stories from local writers. Three of them were wonderful; I didn't want them to end. But one, the first one, was... hm, well, it was well written for what it was, I suppose, but boring as hell. Why The Source decided to lead with the worst story confuses me because they risked discouraging readers from reading the other three. Anyway, I hope they publish more short stories in the future. More than anything I hope they decide to use genre fiction the next time.