In 2010, I challenged myself to read 100 middle grade and YA books and I did it – yay! Why do such a crazy thing? It was one way I'd be sure to read the kinds of books that I’m writing. I also I wanted to become familiar with more children’s authors and publishers, and hopefully learn something. So what did I learn?
1. It helped me remember more about the books I read. My list and occasional blog posts about the books led me to think more about what I was reading.
2. I developed a stronger sense of what I like to read—and the kind of book I want to write. The way I want it to sound. The kinds of characters and story I want to create. Even though I knew I had to read enough books to reach my goal, I wasn’t afraid to stop reading a book if I really didn’t like it. I didn’t include them on my list, but there were probably about 5 or 6 books I just gave up on.
3. Paying attention to publishers, editors and agents through books was a good start to immersing myself a little deeper in the publishing community.
4. Keeping track helped me see that even though I write MG, I often choose YA books to read. I had to focus more on MG books to keep it balanced. Maybe one day I’ll switch to writing YA?
5. I read some books I might otherwise have skipped over and actually enjoyed them.
I plan to start another book challenge for myself for 2011. I'll be sticking with the same goal of 100 MG and YA books. It seems like a good number for me, since I finished a couple of weeks before the end of the year.
How much reading do you do in the genre you are writing? How does it benefit your writing?