Fiction: Reading as a Writer

This year’s challenge was to read 52 books – roughly one per week with a small margin of procrastination. My Goodreads account has a tally but I’m pretty much on track to finish. I’ve been trying to read as wide a range of books as possible, not only from different genres but also published in different decades. Some books have been read purely for enjoyment, while others have been for research purposes. My comments about each book focus on the relevance of each for a writer, rather than as a reader — there are lots of book bloggers who do this far better than I ever will!

I realised that I’d fallen behind in a number of long running series and have attempted to catch up with those, too. I’m not usually a fan of non-fiction, other than for direct research purposes, but have attempted to read a few for pleasure — not altogether successfully, I have to say!

Unfinished Business by Nora Roberts

First published in the UK in 1992, this was an interesting book to read. So much has changed in the way we communicate during the past 25 years and much of the premise just wouldn’t happen nowadays, but it’s a testament to Nora Roberts characterisation that a reader can still relate to the heroine’s situation. It’s also a reminder that for all the disadvantages of social media, there are also so many more opportunities to keep in touch with friends and family.

Ms Roberts’ head-hopping (changing the point of view character during a scene) drives is an interesting feature. It’s such a big no-no for beginner writers and yet she does it all the time! Admittedly I never noticed it until I started writing myself, and it is often nice to dip into the thoughts of the other character just to get their reaction. If you’re just starting out as a romance writer, I’d recommend avoiding this particular technique until you’re as big a name in the romance world as Nora herself!

The Secret Cove in Croatia by Julie Caplin (Book 5)

One thing that makes me happy on Amazon is the fact that recently they have begun to include the number a book is in a series. I had the first book in this series (The Little Cafe in Copenhagen) on my shelf for around a year and took it on holiday with me this summer. Once I’d started it I finished it in around a day and went on to read the next two in quick succession. I was really fortunate to meet the author at the RNA conference in July and was happy to hear that the fifth book was coming out fairly soon after.

The characters from each book make occasional reappearances in subsequent books which is always a feature I enjoy! These rarely include the hero’s point of view which is different to the style required by the majority of Romance publishers, although this may be sub-genre dependent.

I have yet to read the fourth book, The Northern Lights Lodge, as I just couldn’t bring myself to read a book set in Iceland during the summer!