Sandra Brown

brown sandra Andrew Eccles 2014

It’s never chocolate or vanilla for me. More like a “swirl.”

Photo credit: Andrew Eccles

“Other than yourself, what authors do you read?”

“Who’s your favorite writer?”

“What genre do you read and what’s your favorite book of all time?”

These are frequently asked questions, but they’re virtually impossible to answer because...I like a mix.

Rarely do I even scan through one of my books after it’s published. To do so would be hazardous to my health. I couldn’t take the pressure of what I’d find. If I love it, I’m an insufferable egotist. If I hate it.... Never mind. I don’t allow myself to go there.

So, who do I read? Just about everyone except myself. I read fiction and nonfiction, adventures, thrillers, mysteries, romances, sci-fi, fantasy, Westerns. I read historical and contemporary. I read the back of a cracker box if I don’t have anything else.

I simply love to read.

My parents are responsible for this insatiable habit. Daddy was an editorial writer for a newspaper. As a sideline to earn a little extra cash, he wrote book reviews. Every so often, he would lug home a box of books sent to him by publishers hoping to entice a review.

Those boxes were treasure troves! In them I discovered books and authors who remain favorites. Some I discarded because they were boring or “good for me,” which is redundant. But I devoured the novels, little caring if the story was set during the Crusades or the Cold War.

My mother was a habitual reader, too, and read aloud to my sisters and me before we could read ourselves. An unabashed romantic, she favored stories of high adventure and melodrama. My imagination was cultivated and fertilized by the animation in her voice as she described the hero’s funny sidekick, the hushed wonder in her tone when a secret cave was being explored, her sigh when the prince finally won a kiss from the princess.

I was just a kid seeking entertainment. I didn’t realize then what an invaluable gift my parents were bestowing on me—this love of words, stories, and books —which would become my lifework.

I can’t nail down a favorite author, because too many have their unique appeal. Nor could dozens of favorite books be narrowed down to one. While I still seek to be entertained, occasionally I’ll read one of those books that’s “good for me.”

What I read isn’t as important as that I do.

Sandra Brown is the author of 63 New York Times bestsellers, including Deadline (2013), Low Pressure (2012), Lethal (2011), Tough Customer (2010), and Smash Cut (2009). Brown began her writing career in 1981 and since then has published over 70 novels, and her work has been translated into 34 languages worldwide.

This "Writers on Reading" essay was originally published in "At the Scene" eNews August 2014 as a first-look exclusive to our enewsletter subscribers. For more special content available first to our enewsletter subscribers, sign up here.