There are many schools of thought concerning what makes a good writer, and one common thread is that a writer should read. This makes sense, because this is in line with how most people learn things – they watch others do it and copy what they’ve seen.
Fortunately, reading has never been a problem for me. My mother was a librarian, and our home was always overflowing with books. I was raised to be a reader, and that hasn’t changed over the years.
Back in 2013, I got curious so I created a spreadsheet to track the books I was reading every month. The following year I’d already gotten into the habit, so I continued and have kept it going since. It’s been really helpful, especially when I pick up an interesting-looking book and find out that I’d read it three years before.
For the interested, here are my breakdowns over the past several years.
- 2013: 84 books
- 2014: 101 books
- 2015: 105 books
- 2016: 100 books
- 2017: 68 books
- 2018: 108 books
- 2019: 95 books
In 2017, I was cruising along until our lives were disrupted by a change of job and relocation – that put a damper on my reading activities. 2019, of course, marked my completion of the first draft of my novel and several rounds of edits. So that makes, on average, about 94 books per year (at about 375 pages each.)
So what kind of books have I been reading? Classic sci-fi like Jules Verne, Isaac Asimov, and Robert Heinlein. Non-fiction about Lincoln, self-help, and marketing/business tomes. Fantasy like Tolkien, Brooks, and Sanderson. New sci-fi, horror, suspense, and more.
Lots of variety, many different writing styles. All provide some guidance to a budding writer (even if only to serve as a bad example!)
So if you are thinking about writing, it all starts with reading.