Check Your Reading

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Readers are smart people. We know that. Reading almost anything makes you learn things, even if they're not massively important things. Non-fiction is the most reliable source for learning, although you have to be careful whose nonfiction it is. Recent studies showed that reading fiction make a person more empathetic, presumably because you frequently put yourself in the place--even inside the head--of others and see life from viewpoints other than your own. (I enjoy writing the Sleuth Sisters Mysteries for that very reason: I have to think like each sister in order to tell the story the way she would see it.)

We develop habits over time with our reading, and that's both good and bad. If you always read one genre and even one sub-genre, sooner or later you're going to end up in a rut. I've gone through quite a few phases in my lifetime. For a while I read lots of biographies and autobiographies. Then I read almost exclusively historical fiction. Now I read mostly mystery. A few years back I was forced to branch out, since I read aloud to someone who could no longer read for herself. That meant scientific stuff I'd never have chosen, Hollywood biographies (again, not my style), and sci-fi/fantasy like The Hunger Games and Twilight (waaaaay down my list of worthwhile reading).

I won't say the time was wasted. I learned a lot about astrophysics, brain research, and what most of America is reading. I doubt I'll go back to YA adventure anytime soon, but I do regularly buy something on the scientific spectrum now, because it's interesting.

So ask yourself: Am I in a reading rut? Have I read outside my genre in the last few months?
If not, it might be beneficial. It might be educational. It might even be fun.


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