As a writer of poetry and fiction you might think I read a lot of creative and fictional writing. I don’t. Anymore. I’ve probably read two works of fiction in the last year. On the other hand, I’ve read at least a dozen non-fiction titles in the past six months.
It hasn’t always been this way. When I was in my teens and twenties, fiction was all I read. I especially enjoyed science fiction and fantasy. In my thirties, I turned to the classics. I spent several years reading dozens of classics from Kesey to Steinbeck and Hemingway to Conrad.
I also started my college education in my thirties and I began reading books on communication, business, and psychology as an undergrad. My graduate studies led me to read about cults and folk music. I’ve read most everything about and by Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. I kept reading some classic fiction titles, too.
After getting my M.A., I read nearly everything written by Cormac McCarthy and Wallace Stegner. I’ve also read dozens of Christian titles from C.S. Lewis to Rob Bell. My latest favorite fiction writer is Garth Stein who wrote The Art of Racing in the Rain. But here’s why I don’t read much fiction:
1. It hinders the creative writing process. Although I love great stories and I’m much more entertained by a good fictional story than non-fiction, fiction has the potential to influence my own creative ideas. As someone who started writing novels in his late 40s, I feel like I’ve found a unique voice. I don’t have the sense that I’m imitating any other writer. I want to keep that voice. Reading another’s fictional voice, especially while working on writing my own novel might have a profound influence.
2. Non-fiction is a constant teacher. Fiction can teach us valuable lessons about life, but non-fiction can teach practical skills. Non-fiction also doesn’t influence my own creative writing efforts. If you look at my All Star Reviews page, you’ll see only non-fiction titles. That’s because I haven’t read any fiction since starting that page about six months ago.
Question: So what kinds of books do you read and why?
Please take a moment to learn more about my writing. Check out my book pages: A Train Called Forgiveness and At the Crossing of Justice and Mercy. Both titles are available at Amazon, and A Train Called Forgiveness is available as an audiobook at Audible.