Among other things, I collect books. New or used doesn’t particularly matter to me, so long as I have room on my bookshelf for it. Most of my literary real estate is given over to fiction, but my lower shelves are dedicated to various reference books. Along with those picture above, I also have an encyclopedia on animals, a forensic science book, an astrology book, a sign-language dictionary, and an illustrated history of swords and maces. There’s also quite a few drawing books and a thesaurus happily adorning my shelves.
The point of this post however, is not just to show off my sometimes eclectic collection of books, but to highlight the common writing advice: read widely.
For writers, this often means to read throughout your genre, which makes its own kind of sense. For traditional publishing, it’s easier to find comp titles and authors if you know your genre and therefore, your market. For independent and self publishing, the same is true, knowing your genre means knowing your market.
At the same time, reading outside of your genre also gives you fodder for new ideas. It means you can bring in new twists you’ve found a dozen times over in a mystery to your horror novel.
This also means reading becomes a kind of continuous experience for writers. You may not have actually walked the streets of Rome during Caesar’s rule, but given the right books, you can very well construct that experience based on the information contained therein. That’s research in action.
Books aren’t the only things to read! The internet is full of articles, blogs and forum posts. Just remember to double-check anything you do find on the world-wide web and continue expanding your horizons.