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what makes a well-read reader?

Jamie recently posted about realizing she’s not as well-rounded of a reader as she has thought and that got me thinking. What about me? I certainly feel like I am and, when asked, I definitely mention how I enjoy reading a wide range of genres, but does my reading truly reflect that?

To me, a well-rounded reader is someone who (obviously) reads an array of works covering multiple genres, eras, and authors. This is a reader who is just as knowledgeable of airplane reads as they are of Stuffy Classics (which aren’t so stuffy at all!) and have a recommendation for both at the ready.

Even the most avid of readers falls into a rut sometimes and I feel it’s perfectly natural to go through periods or phases where one particular genre takes over. But is there a time limit on these phases? What’s the end date, that final moment when it’s no longer just a binge and suddenly, I’m no longer seen as a reader of many genres, but one? Is there a time limit? Can someone still be considered well-read if they’ve solely read crime fiction the past three years?

I was curious to see how my reading stacked up.

chart
image via goodreads

Clearly excluding my 2014 Reads shelf, the shelves with the most mentions this year have been for books set in America, Standalones, and Contemporary novels. Let’s take a further look.

Out of the 56 books I’ve read so far this year:
17 have been NA/YA/MG
23 have been Adult
1 was a Manga
15 were Graphic Novels (broken down into 2 series)

Breaking it down further (note: I lumped those Graphic Novel volumes into one count for each series and this is hardly accurate, fairly sloppy, and one book might fall under multiple categories)
Out of those 56 books:
23 were set in America
1 was set in Australia
1 was set in Germany
4 were set in France
9 were set in the UK, mainly England
2 were set in the Middle East
6 were set in Other Worlds/Space/Fantasy Kingdoms
I’d like to say I’ve traveled the globe, but it’s clear I stuck to my own turf so far this year.

Genre-wise:
23 were Contemporary
3 were Horror
10 were Historical Fiction
12 fell under an all-encompassing Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Paranormal/Magical Realism umbrella
8 were Mystery/Thriller
1 was Dystopian
1 was Non-Fiction
I know what I like and I stick with that it seems.

I was incredibly disappointed to discover only 3 books were LBGT and had POC characters, respectively.

So what does this mean? Am I wrong in saying I’m well-read? Can I still think of myself as a well-read reader when I only read a single non-fiction title scattered among numerous American contemporaries? I don’t even want to think about my pitiful results as far as diversity in authors.

How does your own reading stack up? Do you consider yourself to be a well-read reader? What makes someone well-read?
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5 thoughts on “what makes a well-read reader?

  1. I wouldn’t consider myself a well-read reader, no. I mean, compared to just the average population who might two or three books a year? Yeah. But compared to other serious readers? No. I tend to stick to my YA fantasies/sci-fis/dystopias. My knowledge of classics is horrible and I really have never ventured outside of my lil comfort zone. So not really well-read. But I’m actually okay with that. I’m happy with what I read :)

    1. Oh my goodness, I never even thought of casual readers! Since my personal AND work life both involve books, somehow the rest of the world slipped my mind! That’s a really great point though – compared to the people who only read a few books a year, of course I’d look well-read.

      Hey, no shame! I set a goal for myself this year (really focus on what I know I like, rather than blindly going into a book and hoping for the best) which actively opposes any kind of diversity in my reading. I know what I like and I tend to stick with it!

  2. I think there’s a difference between being a well-read reader and a well-rounded reader. You’re talking about being a well-rounded reader in that you pick from many different areas. A well-read may do the same, but may also pull deeply from one source. Like say a reader has read every sci-fi book ever created. (Highly improbably, but go with it.) This reader is not a well-rounded reader, because she is unlikely to have strayed outside of the genre, but this reader is still a *well-read* reader. I mean, if you want to know ANYTHING about sci-fi lit, this is your girl! She is well-read, having been digesting tropes, plot lines, twists, and character arcs consistently for who knows how many years.

    So, based on the above, I am a well-read reader but not necessarily a well-rounded one. :)

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