Monday Muse (13) – Depth vs. Breadth


I was talking with a friend at work the other day about our habits with reading. We both found it difficult to justify reading more by one author rather than reading all the other authors out there (at least one of their books if they wrote more than one). This makes me wonder what is more important to the reader – depth in one author’s style OR breadth of authors’ voices. I can see how academics truly immerse themselves in one author and/or time period for writers to be experts, but is that what we as the common reader aim? She was more inclined to read deeply Oscar Wilde works, where I have found solace in Jane Austen, Dan Brown, and Colleen Hoover. However, once I find an author (beyond a series since that I do not consider a part of depth) and dive into their works (famous or not), I tend to notice how they approach their content and can soon predict the rising action, climax, and denouement. Not that that is a terrible thing, but it does make me reconsider other authors styles that I have yet to discover. With my huge TBR pile, after I read a book and am amazed by the author’s writing style, sometimes I jump ship from my pile and head to the local library for something else by them – I swear Colleen Hoover dominated by Fall and Winter reading!

There’s also risk with this since the first will always be a point of comparison or when you mention your favorite author, someone guesses that the famous book by them is your favorite, and maybe they haven’t even heard of the other works by them… I know I’m guilty of that! We talked about how school systems and educators consistently choose the same ‘popular’ works for students to read. Out of a collection of work by these famous authors, why were those chosen? For example, Romeo and Juliet is the classic Shakespeare, 1984 is George Orwell’s, and Charles Dicken’s Great Expectations are the selections most students read, among others I am sure. Not until taking my Shakespeare class this semester did I read more than one work by a writer in school. Maybe the former is to get a diverse range of perspectives in the literary world? I see value and challenges in both depth and breadth of readership. I guess for me it is a matter of what I’m feeling or what strikes my fancy. I am for sure not picking up a book and noticing the author is one I’ve read already and automatically dismiss it. The struggle is real.

What are your thoughts on depth versus breadth with books?

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