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Feed Your Brain: Reading Outside Your Genre

As YA writers, we do our best to know the market for which we are writing. We read all the latest bestsellers and award winners; we read blogs and websites dedicated to young adult fiction.

And this is all very good. How do you know how to write a certain genre if you don’t read a certain genre? But, on the other hand, this mentality can sometimes trap us in a rut.  Sometimes we get so caught up in reading the right books that we forget it’s important to just…read.

Lately, I’ve been rediscovering my love of books that aren’t necessarily YA. Books with beautiful words that resonate with me deeply. And even though they aren’t books that relate to what I’m writing, just the act of ingesting good stories and good characters reboots my creativity.

We at YA Highway have talked a lot about this. Some of my fellow bloggers even avoid reading books similar to their current WIP. What kind of books have you been reading? Do you find it helpful to read outside your genre? 
Kristin Briana Otts

Kristin is an aspiring YA author with an abiding love for her dog, ghost hunter tv shows, and rainy days.

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  1. The past couple years I've read a loooooot of fantasy and dystopia (because that's what I write), but this year I've been reading a lot more contemporary - which I'm really coming to love. Not something I thought I would say :)

  2. Granted, YA is not a 'genre' it's a readership - but many times I have had to convince people to give a YA book a chance and not simply assume that it will be childish drivel. So I'd feel like a hypocrite if I didn't give all genres a chance - if I just turned around and said "all biographies are boring" it would be the same as someone dismissing the YA readership as a whole. So I feel like I'm an equal-opportunity genre reader.

  3. I'd love to read everything, if I could. But since my time is finite, I only read with a purpose, mainly books that others have recommended to me. The promise of being able to discuss a book with others is great motivation.

  4. I live and breathe historical, and also love literary fiction. Even though I don't read or write it too often, I've loved sci-fi since I first was introduced to it in fifth grade. I'll admit that it's hard for me to get into a book in a genre I normally never read, like fantasy or paranormal. It's totally out of the realm of my experience and interest.

  5. I always read outside my genre when writing it. I do always like to read a bit of everything, but it's interesting - when I was writing YA I read a lot of true crime and MG (and YA). When I wrote my MG manuscript I was reading lots of literary fiction and biographies and sociology/cultural studies-ish stuff. And now that I am working on a literary manuscript, I am somehow drawn to Crime. I never in my life have read this much Crime fiction at once. I don't even usually enjoy it at all. But I think there's something in the tight plot structures that I need at the moment.

  6. I love reading outside the genre that I write! It's inspiring. Right now I have Ender's Game and Scarlet and Graffiti Moon all in my to-read pile. Variety is the best part of reading. I get amazing (okay, crazy) ideas when I mix all the stuff I love.

  7. I'm currently reading Anna and The French Kiss, definitely not something I thought I would read because I'm not a romance fan. But I love it so far! Glad I'm giving it a go. :)

  8. Me too. When I'm writing, I can't read in my genre because it totally messes with my own story. So as of late, I've been jumping back and forth between adult fiction and NF (writing books and Steven Covey's SEVEN HABITS...). Right now, I'm catching up on all the classic novels I missed while reading my genre such as ATONEMENT and BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY. I'm not sure Bridget Jones is really a classic in the normal sense of the word, but I'm fine with it. Although, I did take a short break and read IF I STAY by Gayle Foreman and am happy I did; it's a great story.

  9. I've recently read Tamara Drewe, the graphic novel by Polly Simmonds. I don't think I could ever write a graphic novel as I think that the relationship between image and text is integral in this genre and I can't draw! It did give me a good opportunity to think about how I use imagery - yes I can't present an actual image but could I do more when writing imagery, can I approach it from an unusual angle?

    Reading various genres is great, but if I'm not enjoying a book I will usually give up.

  10. I am constantly reading outside my genre. I'll ingest everything from comical memoirs to old classics to easy beach reads to whatever my mother-in-law hands to me. I think it is very important to read outside of what you do. You never know, it may inspire something new. At the very least, it will entertain you and keep you away from the tv.

  11. I'm probably going to start reading more contemporary YA soon, even though I mostly read/write horror and paranormal. I'll get back to paranormal eventually, but I feel like I'm a little burned out on the genre right now. And reading things outside what you normally read can open you up to all sorts of new experiences and ideas that influence your writing.

  12. I read all over the place. In fact, it amazes me to run into writers who have never read anything outside of their genre.


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Item Reviewed: Feed Your Brain: Reading Outside Your Genre Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Kristin Briana Otts