Today, I decided to come out of the closet and confess my disorder. I am a Bibliophile.
I'll wait while my industrious readers type that into Google.
Done now? Good. It means simply that I love books. Not the e-books with their digital pages and internal light and instant downloads. Nor books on tape or CD, though those are handy if there is no light or you're on a long trip. Books are for me.
I love the smell of an old book, musty with age and history. The feel of turning crinkled pages. The quiet relaxation that is scanning your eyes across black ink printed upon clean paper. It's almost as good as a mug of coffee. And don't even get me started on the wonders of that heavenly beverage.
Today, my bibliophile tendencies are especially satisfied. The local library system in my state hosts an annual "Friends of the Library" sale, in which they get rid of old, discontinued, or mildly damaged editions of their books. They sell them at almost dirt-rate prices. ( 50 cents for paperback, $1 for hardback)
I've gone every year for...quite a while. Surprisingly, though I'm an avid speculative fiction and mystery reader, and a rabid fan of Dean Koontz--whose work defies classification. (I found his books on four different "genre tables") During this sale I am actually more apt to buy research books.
My suggestion for you, my audience, is to see about these local sales, or even half-price bookstores. One of the biggest things you can do to add realism to your work is to pick up books regarding certain topics you wish to cover.
For example, today, besides Dean Koontz, Frank Herbert, and a new author for me-- C. J. Cherryh--I picked up quite a handful of reference books. Decoding the Secret Language of the Body (detailed body language clues.) Personality Types, Panic and Other Anxiety Disorders, and Gentle Guide to the Twelve-Step Program, among others.
The first two were simply to increase my knowledge or give me ideas, but the others are going to be very handy for the prep work that should begin in about 6 months or so for the second book in my sci-fi series, The Changeling Project.
Last year, I picked up The Sociopath Next Door, which has been hugely helpful in creating any of my antagonists, but especially Sargas who, so far in what I've written, is my best "villain" yet. He scares me and I created him. Frankenstein-esque feeling there.
Don't be afraid to read up on neuro-science and other highly technical fields. Pick through until you find a book that is simple enough you can grasp it and add a little bit of basic knowledge. Just dropping a bit of jargon--used correctly--can add a speck of realism to your stories.
Now, pardon me, I'm off to read.