I’m always shocked by how few writers actually read these days. I meet writers all the time who are eager to talk about what they’re writing, and keen to spend hard-earned dollars on writing classes, workshops and conferences they hope will advance their development as writers; but when I ask them what they’re reading they often look blank, then vaguely uncomfortable.
“I have so little time,” they say, “what with writing, my family, my work, and all that blogging and social media stuff we’re expected to do. I do most of my reading online these days.”
What a shame.
It’s not that I don’t understand that there aren’t enough hours in the day for everything we’re expected to do as writers. It’s that I don’t understand how anything but work and family commitments can be a higher priority than reading. I would even put reading ahead of writing.
When studying, aren’t we taught to gather knowledge from primary sources?
While I find reading an author’s blog entertaining and enlightening, it’s in their writing that I find the primary source of their creativity and skill, and the best lessons for how to be a better writer myself. Besides, social media is a recent phenomenon. Unless we read beyond social media, we deny ourselves access to a vast amount of wisdom, knowledge and entertainment written before the age of social media, workshops and conferences.
So do you read? And do you read outside of the genre you write in? What about books older than six months, or a year, or fifty years? What about books that are many hundreds of years old? Do you read them?
I’ve noticed that the scope of my own reading has become narrower recently. So, once a month, I’m going to share a photograph of my current to-be-read pile and I’d love you to share your lists and photos with me here, too.
If you’re reading, that is…
There are quite a few books available to read online, such as this 18th century book about brewing. Books written in the time my characters are traveling to are a great aid in absorbing the way language was used at that time: