Changing my Reading Habits

If you are what you read, then I’d be a mishmash of different personalities: mysterious, quirky, lovestruck, creepy, and even superheroic. I’ve always enjoyed escaping into books, and I’ve done that even more during these pandemic times. My go-to genres are young adult (mainly dystopian), buzzy books on the New York Times bestseller list, and mysteries of all flavors.

Iced in Paradise book

I like chasing down a good clue or two. Cozy mysteries are definitely my cup of tea, but for a long time, I’d followed the advice of not reading in the same genre as whatever you’re writing. To me, that meant that when I was drafting something, I wouldn’t read in that particular genre. Unfortunately for my reading habits, I started writing a lot of cozies. This translated to a huge stack of cozy mysteries that I kept placing on the back burner.

During a virtual webinar I attended at the beginning of lockdown, one of the authors mentioned that he doesn’t mind reading in the same genre, even while he’s writing similar novels. He figured that all books are unique creations, and we wouldn’t truly be able to replicate other authors’ styles. In fact, reading fellow writers’ works might even keep our creative juices flowing.

After I received this permission to do a free-for-all style of reading, I attacked my to-read pile of cozy mysteries. I’ve devoured a lot of them on my e-reader. For some reason, though, I tend to speed read ebooks—maybe because I want to race toward the one-hundred-percent-done finish line. Besides electronic versions, I enjoy hard copies delivered from independent bookstores (support indies!) or novels borrowed through my local library branch (yay for curbside pickup!).

Killer Chardonnay book

A silver lining for me during this pandemic has been the freedom to dive into more amazing books.

What’s your favorite way to get books, and have your reading tastes changed because of the pandemic?

34 thoughts on “Changing my Reading Habits

  1. I read digital books on my kindle, so I get books from Amazon and my library. My reading has changed a bit – not reading as much. Still prefer my cozies, but for a break, I’ll pick up a domestic suspense or a traditional mystery.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thanks for chiming in, Dru! Hope you’re enjoying the books you do get to read. So grateful for your stellar support of the mystery writing community. Case in point: your recent list of online happenings to connect with authors–https://drusbookmusing.com/2020/09/23/going-virtual/

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I read books any way I can get them, although I still like a hard copy to take to and from work! Definitely have downloaded more from the libraries during the pandemic with their limited hours. In addition to all the mysteries, have picked up some romance too.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Oh dear. I edit for several folks, so if I “am what I read,” that means that I’m inconsistent, swinging between over-dramatic and downright tedious.
    But last week I was a curmudgeonly coach with a crafty smile, standing up for my players and swinging a red towel ferociously from the sidelines whenever they were wronged. That was a good week .
    The week before that, though, I kept lapsing into past-perfect, recalling things that I had never experienced in the present or past and which, had I known I would have experienced them, I would never have agreed to do what I am now, or was, or had was…

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Well, I’m certainly reading less of the news these days than I used to. Ugh. But the Wednesday food section? I read every single word!

    I absolutely prefer real, paper books–something you can smell and hold in your hands, and use a beer coaster to mark your place.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Yes, I have to ration my news reading. The food section sounds like a great read!

      I’ve never used a beer coaster to mark my place. Beyond bookmarks, I’ve made do with receipts, ribbons, and lai see red envelopes (hopefully, without forgetting about the money inside them).

      Liked by 2 people

  5. My reading tastes haven’t really changed – except I can’t do dystopian or anything with a plague/pandemic theme. I feel like if I wanted that I’d turn on the news.

    I tend to buy from my local indie unless 1) it’s a brand-new author I’m taking a chance on or 2) there’s a super ebook sale. I bought all of Julia Spencer-Fleming’s books when her publisher was doing ebook specials as a lead up to her latest.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I can’t do plague-related reading right now. However, I have an author friend who wrote a novel about a pandemic. She says that she’s discovered two type of readers: those who will definitely *not* read books like hers and those who lean in and devour catastrophe-centered novels.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I mostly prefer reading on the ereader nowadays, but that was true before the pandemic too. The only thing that’s really changed for me since the pandemic is I’m reading less since I find it hard to concentrate for long.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Dear Jennifer,

    Thank you for asking- I’m an e-reader, except for my newspaper. after early cataract surgery for both eyes, I now find reading books/paper to require glasses and my eyes get tired very quickly. With the e-reader, I don’t have that problem 😊😊. If you’re looking for a great non-cozy series, have you tried Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series? Amazing world building!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for the rec, Ruth!

      I do like the option of changing the font on an e-reader for my weary eyes. The amazing thing about cataract surgery is that they can fix vision during the procedure. When my father-in-law had the operation done, it was so intriguing to see him without glasses for the first time in decades!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Great post, Jen! So glad you’re including cozies back on your TBR list. With all the mss. I read for work, plus writing my own, I’d noticed lately that I’d gotten way behind on reading for fun. (A few books piled on my nightstand were turning into permanent decorations—hello Mike Love.) So I am reading less news on my phone at night and more mysteries, of all kinds. Occasionally I sneak in rom coms and my fave historical eras, Victorian and 40s/50s Brooklyn. (Go figure.)

    Liked by 2 people

  9. My reading choices haven’t changed, I’ve just been doing more reading right now. I still prefer physical books, although my ebook to be read pile has grown in the last few months. I’m very thankful for my library’s digital element. I’ve gotten a few digital audio books over the summer, and I love not having to change discs as I drive. Plus I don’t have to drive anywhere to return them.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Pingback: Food for Your Mind
  11. If you are what you read, I’m a mystery! Although I wouldn’t be a very good mystery, because I’m pretty predictable! Lately, I’ve started reading several books (some big bestsellers) that I didn’t finish. I used to soldier through and finish every book I started. These days, if a book isn’t working for me, I move on to the next book on my TBR. Maybe because of the pandemic, I feel life’s too short to waste on books I don’t love!
    BTW, I highly recommend books by all the Chicks on the Case for anyone looking for a fun read!

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Great post, Jen! My preferred way to get books is to buy paperbacks (first choice) or hardcovers (if that’s all that is available when the book comes out because no, I am not patient enough to wait a year for a paperback). My reading-for-fun tastes haven’t changed since the pandemic–still mostly mysteries dotted with rom coms and suspense–but my movie- and television-viewing habits seem to be leaning toward humor and lightness more and more…have a strong need to balance the negativity/real-world news.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I read a lot on my tablet because it is portable. It is also ligth enough to easily carry. It is sometimes hard to read outside or in odd lighting. If I am reading a book for a review, I like to highlight names, locations, and importantthoughts, and then copy and paste them into a Word document. then when I am finished, I have all the information I need for my review. This is especially convenient for names.

    When I read purely for pleasure, I like a paper book. I like to be able to flip a little ahead and more often flip pages back to look for something or someone I might have missed. One would think that this would be super easy in an e-book, but it really is not. For an e-book I have to remember the exact word or name; with a REAL peper book, I can just flip and scan till I find what I want. I can read a paper book outside on my swing and not have to worry about glare, lighting or RUNNING OUT OF POWER. E-books are convenient, but nothing will replace a real paper book with pages.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for sharing! I still have yet to figure out that highlighter feature on my e-reader. The Kindle Paperwhite (the model I own) is supposed to mimic natural lighting, so I do appreciate how it acts more like paper. I agree about looking up a passage in an e-book, though. Sometimes I have to use the find function and do a search, which is pretty inconvenient.

      BTW, I love the idea of reading outside on a swing!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. That’s so interesting. I certainly avoid reading books too close to what I’m writing. i.e., a cozy set in a Southern B&B when I’m working on my Cajun Country series. I gravitate toward historical cozies in general, and that hasn’t changed. One thing that has is I’m grabbing more and more sale-priced books for me kind. I only recently discovered I get one free book a month through my Amazon Prime membership. This kills me because I wonder how many I’ve missed over the years. I use this to get books I might not normally read. I have been reading more suspense lately because I’m working on a stand-alone. But I do think a benefit of reading outside your genre is that it encourages you to bring more layers to the genre you do write.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I can see what you’re saying about setting, especially something as specific as a Southern B&B. (To be honest, I think I do tend to read more food cozies over other sub-genres.)

      Oh no about all those years of missing free books!

      That’s wonderful about your stand-alone. Looking forward to hearing more about it!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. What a great post! I love the real thing, be it paperback or hard cover, and I’ll always gravitate toward mystery, suspense and thriller. I’m predictable that way! As Ellen said, reading out of genres can help us bring layers to our work. One of my new goals is to read more broadly. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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