Hi, I have heard that reading a wide variety of books can help with writing and was looking for some suggestions please. I mostly read detective novels and easy going, light read sort of books and would probably find most of the classics hard going. Did anyone start broadening their reading material and if so, did this help? Which books did you dip into first to do this? Advice greatly appreciated.
'Reading Like A Writer' by Francine Prose (good name huh) might be a good starting point for getting more out of the process. Otherwise I would just look at what is admired in different genres and find something you fancy. I have always read broadly but I definitely read more analytically these days.
Read outside your usual genres helps, it doesn't have to be high brow, just well written (although you can still learn from the badly written too). It may spark ideas and also help with key elements such as plotting, structure and scene setting, as well as giving you new ideas for your own genre.
I second Francine Prose. It has changed the way I analyse any novel or in fact sentence!
You can get free samples of books, or previews via Amazon.co . Uk and kindle through the Amazon Kindle app for Windows, etc. I read bits from genres outside of my writing. You can get previews/samples of Literary Fiction, sci fi, Romance, Thrillers etc. It's great, I am writing in the Literary Fiction genre and I find it really helpful to glance at other genres, analyse small sections to understand the ebb and flow of the writing across the page, how it works, doesn't work, how it all unfolds for each genre. It's really useful when going back into my own novel, understanding how my work fits in with it all.
This way, I don't have to buy loads of books I wouldn't necessarily finish. And I get a wide idea of all the different guises in which people communicate their narratives 😊
How about short stories? They let you sample different writing styles in a short burst. I also have my favourite genres but I try to make sure I sample different authors rather than sticking to the old favourites.
I know you say that classics might be too hard going for you, but Dickens is a great story-teller, and surprisingly easy to read. I loved Great Expectations. You can often read them for free online too.
Also, Dracula is quite a page-turner (Bram Stoker) as is The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. Don't be scared of them - they're classics for a reason, usually because they're great stories.
You could also try some children's fiction - The Wind in the Willows, Swallows and Amazons, Northern Lights, War Horse - all easy to read but well-written books.