Evolving Readers and Writers

I will be moving into a new house this summer so I’m sorting through all the things I’ve accumulated since my last move—including my book collections. Since I enjoy physical books as much (and sometimes more) as eBooks, my shelves are overflowing. Yes, it’s time to winnow down both my fiction and non-fiction books.


I’m clearing a shelf at a time, alternating between fiction and non-fiction. My criteria? For non-fiction it usually revolves around research books for past, current, and future books I wrote, am writing, or will write in the near future. History books, medical books, and books on writing. Some have lost their relevance as I’ve changed my writing focus and some contained only a small section related to what I was researching or I found a better, more up-to-date source.


For fiction, do I enjoy reading the book a second (third or tenth) time? If not, why not? I’ve learned that what I enjoy today as a reader is not the same as it was ten or fifteen years ago—and in some instances, not even two or three years ago. Why? What’s changed?

I’ve changed. And it made me think about how my writing has changed—it’s evolved as I’ve learned more about the craft of writing. As I’ve learned better ways of developing a compelling story, my voice has emerged and become stronger, more me. So why wouldn’t my choice in reading material evolve too?

My fiction reading has become a little more eclectic. I’ve branched out into fantasy, paranormal, urban fantasy, steampunk, and rediscovered science fiction. Romance, especially romantic suspense, is still my go-to sources when I want a feel-good read. Still not a fan of cozy mysteries (but I’ve enjoyed a few), women’s fiction (yes, I’ve enjoyed some of these too), or horror. But I used to turn my nose up at historical novels and now enjoy a number of different historical authors.

And I have some authors I can read their books over and over again. I can still get lost in the worlds they’ve created—like visiting old friends and talking about shared adventures. Sometimes a good story is timeless. And those books will always find a home on one of my shelves.


All of which gives me hope. I’ll never run out of things to read. I’ll never run out of new authors to “discover.” And I really hope it means I’ll never run out of evolving readers who will discover my old and new books. New readers who find their taste in reading material has evolved and changed just as mine has done.


As for the books I no longer want or need, they are going to the library to find new readers, to be shelved or sold for money to buy new authors and research books so the cycle can continue. 

What about you? Do you periodically clear your shelves of books no longer needed or wanted? Do you have favorite books you love to revisit over and over?

Comments

I, too, have an overflow of both ebooks and shelved books. I keep the physical books until there's no room, and then I read all of the jackets/blurbs and sort through which ones I still think I'll read. I recently had to do that when we downsized my shelf space. It's hard to part with those books, but I take them to the used book store (which has a coffee shop) and treat myself to writing time and a coffee (usually, I can have several over the next few weeks) with the money I make when I trade those books in. ;)
Marcelle Dubé said…
I am in the middle of just such an exercise, Sharon. I have (wait, I have to count)six bookshelves in my teeny tiny little house and over the years, any sense of organization went out the window. So now I'm going through all my books and trying to set up different bookshelves for different types of books: research for currents works in progress; research for past and future projects; writing books; nonfiction books; fiction books; and brag shelves (for local writers, writers I know from farther afield, and my own books). It's a daunting task and I have piles of books everywhere. Many books will find new homes at the library, the second hand book store, and the mini library-on-a-post that we are building in my neighborhood this year. You wouldn't believe the dust...
Sharon Calvin said…
So far I've resisted removing or even archiving my ebooks--but the day is coming I'm sure!
Cathy Perkins said…
Over the years, I've gone through this so many times! Yes, I have a book-buying habit. :)
Since the weekend place is now my office/the guest house, I'm trying to stock the bookshelves there with a wide range of stories guest may enjoy. The bookshelf in my bedroom? "Keepers." To Be Reads. And then there are the bookshelves for grandchildren-on-the-way...
Marlene Ezell said…
I have passed on books to other readers. These are books that I don't want to keep. Even though I rarely reread a book, I have certain ones that I keep...books about dogs, horses, and those by certain authors. I have a used bookstore nearby where I can turn books in for credit. This helps feed my book addiction.
jean harrington said…
I have some keepers, and yes, I'm willing to say I keep them solely for the leather on their spines. No question they do look best on the shelves. Sorry. Shoot me. Now for actual readers, a dictionary, a thesaurus, a bunch of literary anthologies I used when teaching, and a few how-to tomes for would-be writers. Oh, my complete Shakespeare, my Jerusalem Bible and all the books I can't bring myself to throw out. That would take too long, but I do keep winnowing away, a former keeper there, a paperback here. You know how that goes, for I suspect we're all on the horns of this same dilemma.

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