In January, in the aftermath of the holidays and in the middle of another Minnesota winter, I set a reading challenge for myself for 2015 on Goodreads.
At 25 books in 12 months, it was a modest challenge. For a while, I was way ahead of schedule, but I’m glad now that I gave myself that cushion because publishing my own novel while moving to London for graduate school in September put a serious damper on my reading time. With just over three weeks to go in 2015, I need to add two books to my list to make my goal. Piece of cake. I’ve got a book on my Kindle with a high percentage tag and another on my bedside table with a bookmark two-thirds of the way through.
After finishing a book today, I was reflecting on the books I’ve read this year and was pleased to make two observations:
- Of all 23 books currently marked as read, only three authors were already represented on my bookshelves (electronic or wooden). The two authors I am currently reading were also new to me in 2015.
- I did a lot of genre jumping. I read mysteries, non-fiction, apocalyptic fiction, historical fiction (of many varieties), science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, and even a young adult fantasy. My selections were all over the map in both content and style.
Neither of these facts came about by design and, though I feel I’ve always ventured between genres with relative fluidity, I suspect this is the most diverse calendar year of reading I’ve ever had.
This is a very good thing. Now that I’ve published my first book and have two more in The Song of the Ash Tree on the way, I think I understand better how stretching my reading horizons will be increasingly valuable to me when I start my next writing project. (Let’s be honest, that will most likely be post-dissertation.) I struggle a bit when it comes to assigning The Song of the Ash Tree to a genre. I know it doesn’t bend genres as severely as a lot of books out there, but I don’t want to call it strictly fantasy and cannot possibly call it historical. But this struggle doesn’t cause me stress because my own reading patterns suggest a willingness to go where the story takes me.
What will I write next?
Not a clue.
That’s a lie.
I have an older project rolling around in my brain. I may choose to revive it. It’d be straight-up historical fiction in the vein of Margaret George or Colleen McCullough.
There’s also a newer idea that I’m fond of. I think I’d better describe it as alternate history but only in the sense that the main character technically died at a very young age.
Then there’s this other thing in my head that I don’t quite know what to do with. It would be, without question, (dare I say it) science fiction. The thought is both terrifying (I honestly don’t know the first thing about science fiction) and electric.
Actually, it’s not entirely a lie because there’s a very good chance that my next project will be none of the above. And I’m 100% OK with that.