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Why Do We Read?
Category: Writing
Tags: Writing reading books

Stephen King says: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” No doubt this is excellent advice, but what exactly does he mean?

How much is ‘a lot’. I read every day and feel strange if I haven’t managed to read anything all day. Reading is such an ingrained habit that it feels akin to brushing my teeth. I nearly always read before going to bed, sometimes it’s an hour, sometimes only ten minutes depending on how tired I am. I used to read on my commute to work (and was always disappointed to note how many people were playing on their phones rather than reading on the underground). On average I read a book a week. Some people I know find this a lot, but I know of many others who read much more than I do.

And what should you read? Some people advise that you should read exclusively within your genre so that you get a feel for the pace, style, vocabulary, etc. Subconsciously you absorb aspects of others’ writing that will make yours better. Others say you should read as widely as possible, from Classics and literature to trashy novels and everything in between. This gives you a ‘bigger picture’ concept and you learn from other writers’ positives as well as negatives.

And what should you do with that book once you’ve finished reading it? I used to have a blog and write extensive book reviews for the book I’d read. This made me read more ‘actively’ as I was searching for quotes to use in my reviews and looking closely at style, sentence structure and vocabulary. I also used to find out information about the author. This was also very useful; it was always interesting to learn how many books the author had written and how his or her journey to publication had evolved. Now, because my time is more limited and I’m focussing on writing, I no longer write long reviews. I do, however, have a goodreads account and write short reviews for the books I’ve read. This still makes me think about the book and it’s good for fellow authors to have reviews online for their books.

The question I’d like to leave you with is this one: do you read solely for pleasure, or do you read more actively?  


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