As a quick glance to the right demonstrates, my Recently read list is all mysteries, while my TBR stack is nonfiction.
Reason: I don’t like to read fiction while I’m writing it. It’s too easy to slip into somebody else’s voice. I can point at a couple of sentences in my first novel and tell you with dead certainty that when I wrote them, I was reading James Ellroy’s The Cold Six Thousand.
For obvious reasons, the (unconscious) temptation grows worse when I’m reading an author who’s a powerful influence – Ellroy, Andrew Vachss, Elmore Leonard.
Solution: When I’m working on a novel, I make sure my pleasure reading is strictly nonfiction. It’s not a sacrifice; I love biography and history, especially military history.
Given all this, you can guess that I’m between novels at the moment. I kicked my second manuscript over to my agent, Janet Reid, last month, and am spooling up to start the next one in a few weeks. During the countdown I’m gorging on mysteries like a kid stuffing Oreos in his mouth as Mom walks down the hall.