I took the title of this post from some very common advice to writers. I picked it up in Pierre Berton’s book “The Joy of Writing”.
What Kind of Reading?
I don’t think anyone would argue about the need for a writer to read a lot. What I wonder is, what kind of reading? When I started to make movies, I mostly watched movies for enjoyment, but also began to watch to study the movie. I’d make notes about various aspects of the movies to gain a better understanding of how to make movies.
I haven’t done the same with reading though, it is still all for enjoyment. I suspect that I should try to analyze some of the material I read, as I did with movies. I have done a little of that. I remember back in high school I spent some time working through a Doc Savage book to try to suss out how it was done. I didn’t succeed. All it did was distract me from the stuff I should have done for English class.
I do read some books about writing , like “The Joy of Writing”, and I think that helps. However, I think that you can learn from other kinds of books.
I am unsure if reading for pleasure helps. Maybe, as you read, your subconscious picks up on the mechanics of the writing, which you can draw on later. I have my doubts if that is very effective. It would be nice if it does. I wonder if anyone has studied this.
What Have I Read?
I used to read quite a few books. Over the years I drifted from science fiction to mysteries to non-fiction. Over the last year I’ve noticed that more and more of what I read is eBooks on my eReader, or on-line: things like news articles and blogs.
I visit some U.S. news and opinion pages on a regular basis: Paul Krugman, Salon, and Slate. I’d like to find similar sites in Canada because I find myself thinking too much about U.S. economics and politics, which is really not my major concern. I pick up articles here and there from the people I follow on Twitter or FaceBook.
Just recently I discovered Jason Colavito’s blog: http://www.jasoncolavito.com/. His main focus is on debunking the ancient astronaut theory. He writes a lot about how H. P. Lovecraft’s stories have influenced AA theory. He seems to do a new post almost every day. I wish I could be as prolific; and successful, he gets more comments than I get views.
Another recent discovery was Space Archaeology, http://spacearchaeology.org/. Unfortunately the last post was back in November 2012. That said, I did find some worthwhile posts. One of these, 10 Space Archaeology Stories You Must Read (http://spacearchaeology.org/?p=219) got me to read “The Red One” by Jack London, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Red_One. It is reminiscent of some of Lovecraft’s Yog-Sothothery stories, but was written a decade before “The Call of Cthulhu”.
I do worry that the time I spend reading these blogs are a diversion from what I really want to do. Blogs can be addictive. On the other hand, I think that anything that stimulates thought is a positive thing.