I told myself that 2013 would be the year I read more. During 2012 I found myself caught up in so many things that didn't really leave me time for reading. It sounds terrible, and it was, especially as I firmly believe that losing myself in other people's fictional worlds is a terrific way to 'fill the well' and keep fresh as an author. Besides, there's the fact that reading is and always has been my favourite pastime! So just before Christmas I made sure to tell my family about some of the books I'd like to try by new-to-me authors. I'd heard about their books and they'd struck a chord. I'd been meaning to try them, in one case for several years, in the other for just eighteen months. I told you my reading had been disrupted!
Since then I've been fitting in more reading (though my to be read pile is still teetering). As well as romances by some fabulous authors, I've been delving into crime and mystery and having such a lovely time. I'm sure part of the reason is that in each case I'm taken to a completely different world and get to lose myself there. The Boris Akunin books are fantastic fun for lovers of history and old stories. It's years since I read Tolstoy but opening these modern mysteries I felt transported back to a fascinating nineteenth century world. They feature European empires complete with sabre-wielding soldiers, intricate political plots, devilishly complicated spy rings and the occasional mythically alluring femme fatale.
In the first book, The Winter Queen, it was fun to read about a detective who was young, inexperienced and, despite his intellect, gullible. These days I find myself sighing a little over the predictability of stories where the detective is inevitably overweight, middle-aged and cynical. So reading about Erast Fandorin's adventures in Russia, London and the Balkans has been something completely different.
I've also been reading some contemporary mysteries but again, in a world very different to my own. In 2011 I spent a wonderful holiday in the Perigord region of France (south west of Paris, around the Dordogne River). While waiting all day for a connection at Orly airport I picked up an English language paper and read a review of a book, in English, about a small town policeman in the Perigord and it sounded intriguing.
This new year I've been delving into a series of books set in the gorgeous countryside of France. The books are full of food as well as mysteries and fascinating characters. For me, eager to get back to that lovely area, it's a way of vicariously visiting without leaving home, and trying to guess the story behind the mystery as well. I don't know whether branching out so much from romance will have any effect on my writing (no, I'm not planning to include a murder in my next book) but it's a treat trying new authors and visiting new worlds.
How about you? Do you stick to one genre or do you read across lots? Perhaps you like a variety of romance styles. Have you picked up a new author recently and got hooked?