Friday, April 17, 2015

Why do we read?

Someone asked me that as a writer I must be reading a lot. I said yes. Even before I started writing, I would read a lot. As a child I spent my summer holidays devouring books, like a book monster. Finishing off a pile of books in a jiffy.

Many people think that we writers read to copy ideas from other writers. I completely disagree with that thought. We read because we love stories and love to disappear in another writer’s words and the world they have created with their stories. We read not to lift ideas, or to get creatively inspired by other writers. We read books because we crave new experiences, because we want to soak in new cultures, learn about different people. We read because we love stories.

I remember what my writing friend Elizabeth Varadan said about reading. “Reading is like doing homework for writers. Homework that we love doing everyday and look forward to when its not there.” She advised me “For every word we write, we must read atleast a thousand and more. Only then will our words make a difference.”

We hone our craft when we read extensively, we also learn from other writers’ success and failures. The more we read, the more critical we become. I love to read: every genre and age group. But I don’t read much non-fiction. I am planning to change that by reading a few non-fiction books.

I have noticed that all great writers are voracious readers. No, they are not sizing up the competition, but expanding their literary horizons and improving their literary flexibility. The more we read, the more familiar we get with words and plots and story arcs. Reading grooms us into better writers. It adds to our vocabulary, enhances our skills and ofcourse not just educates us, but entertains us as well.

What about you all?  Why do you all read books? Do you believe that it is important for writers to read?


  1. I read more non fiction. I try to get ideas for fiction from non fiction! You should read non fiction too, Rachna. On the other hand, I should read more fiction!

    Destination Infinity

  2. Hi, Rachna, thanks for the nice quote. I read simply because I love to read. It's one of the great pleasures in life, don't you think? And you learn so much about life, reading other people's words. Books are a way of travel for me. It's been awhile since I've read nonfiction, except for research. I used to read a lot of biographies. Your post is a nice nudge to get back to that.

  3. Hi, Rachna,

    I used to read SOOO much. It's funny though, when I started to write i diminished my reading. I used to read a book a week, now.... I hate to admit, I may only get through one a month. I need to change that.

    Life can be so busy especially when one is changing there's by moving. I spent all year running back and forth to Florida to find my next home, and FINALLY I have. Now to remodel and move. Once all that is accomplished I hope to SPRING back into reading and WRITING again.

    But I agree that writers should read and we need to keep diving into other writer's world because WE DO enjoy it and LEARN from it.

  4. I've been a book lover since I was a kid, and reading is still my favorite relaxation. I real almost all genres, including some nonfiction, and will never get all the books in my house read. And even knowing that, I still buy more books and borrow more from the library. I can't stop. I love seeing the ideas other writers get, love visiting new settings, and love good stories.

  5. I was a big reader way before I ever considered trying my hand at writing a book. I can't understand how writers who say they aren't readers can be writers. I wouldn't have a clue how to write a story without having been a voracious reader first.

  6. Totally!
    To be a writer means to have read a lot and to read a lot, i believe.

    Even I don't read non fiction, so I'm trying to diversify my genre now and I tried my hands at David and Goliath and Freakonomics. Its all worth the try :)

  7. I loved to read as a child and completely agree about how important it is to writers. Lack of enough time makes it hard though ... still I often discover wonderful books in my TBR pile!

  8. I became a bookworm in middle school. I loved how books sparked my imagination and took me someplace else. I also learned a lot about the craft from them.

  9. Hi, Rachna! While I do believe it is important for writers to read, I also feel that maybe writers shouldn't read. One, because, a lot of the time, a favorite read plot may bleed into our own.

    I have a friend who wrote a Harry Potter sound alike and didn't see it until a beta reader pointed it out to her.

    I have a hard time finding time to read. Between kids, life, and writing, when do I find time to curl up with a book when that free time should be spent ... writing? AAch! Also, *not* reading books helps me to "think outside the box." After all, isn't that what readers and publishers want, refreshing books? (not bizarrely so, but refreshingly so).

    what are your thoughts?

    Elizabeth Mueller
    AtoZ 2015
    My Little Pony