You Should Read…EVERYTHING!

ChristiBarth-amyjphoto-199x300I write contemporary romance. Only contemporary romance. As a matter of fact, I had a release this week of a sexy and sassy beach fling book, Love at High Tide (which I do encourage you to read!). I adore contemporary romance and gobble it down like ice cream. But, just like you wouldn’t eat ice cream for every meal, you shouldn’t limit your reading to contemporary romance. Gasp. Is that heresy? I don’t think so.

Joss Whedon recently did an interview about how to be more prolific. One of his suggestions was to read/watch outside of your normal genre. And if it is good enough for the brilliant Mr. Whedon, it is good enough for me!

My favorite genre to read is paranormal/urban fantasy. How, you may ask, does that possibly relate to contemporary romance? How do I not read it and sign and wish that I had the excuse of a big magical war as a way to give my characters conflict? Well, I do. But aside from that, there is terrific pacing in that genre. So much happens so quickly that the story zips along. That sort of craft is terrific for me to study and apply to my own books.

Although not fully classified as romantic suspense, many contemporary stories do contain sub-plots that have a suspense element. Which means reading suspense, thrillers and mysteries are great training. Historicals are fantastic, too. If you want to see some awesome flirting, then read a historical (or an historical). A century ago, when it was the height of sluttery to show an ankle, all they had to snare the opposite sex was word play. A regency romance is like a master class in flirting.

Last but not least, it is just, flat-out fun to read everything. Celebrate all books, all genres. Be a well-rounded reader, and you’ll become a more well-rounded writer…which your readers will then thank you for, I promise!


You Should Read…EVERYTHING! — 8 Comments

  1. Good post and good point. Sometimes it’s good to read just because it’s fun–much cheaper than therapy–and being outside your own genre can sometimes turn off the internal editor.

  2. Love this post, Christi! I will sometimes get into a rut of only reading the genre I write. But what you’ve said is absolutely true. I learn valuable lessons while reading outside of my genre. Something about the variety also stimulates the brain and gives me fresh ideas for my own stories and characters.

  3. Great post, Christi. I read a little of everything (except horror – I’m a scaredy cat). When I’m in the thick of writing, I tend to read a lot of historical romance.

  4. Hi Christi – I have a couple of your books on my Nook waiting to be read and am looking forward to it. I used to only read contemporary romance but started venturing out into other genres and now I read them all! My favorites are still contemporary romance and romantic suspense but I have found as long as there is romance in them, I can read historical, paranormal, fantasy, etc. I also find that when I read different genres, each book stands out more. If I read too many contemporaries in a row, even from different authors, they do all start to sound about the same and the reviews are harder to write. So, if I alternate between the genres, each book stands out more. Congrats on your release of Love at High Tide!

  5. Great post. I also write just contemporary romance and since I find it hard to read contemporary while I’m in the middle of writing a book, I turn to other genres for my reading pleasure.

  6. I totally agree with you, Christi. It’s just plain fun to read in a variety of genres and styles. I’m like Alison, in that I don’t read the genre I’m currently writing. I’m afraid that some of the other author’s voice will creep into my work. But since aside from contemporaries, I write romantic suspense, romantic comedy, the occasional paranormal, historicals set in World War Two, and sometimes mashups of a combination of genres, I can usually find a different genre to read from what I’m currently writing. Great post!

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