There was a thread going through the Kindle Boards this week about writers who don’t read. It linked back to an article on Salon about an author who, essentially bragged about not reading. While the discussion about the quality of journalism and of making assumptions based upon a single source was interesting, I don’t really care about that.
If you’re a writer, you read. It’s that simple. A writer who doesn’t read is like a chef who doesn’t eat.
So while the article (and resulting discussion) was amusing, I was left with was a realization (reminder?) that I’ve been spending so much time writing that I haven’t set aside much time to read lately. To be fair, writing is a lot of work which, especially for an indie, encapsulates a whole host of tasks, but that’s beside the point. I have a handful of authors who I follow and will read anything they write, and seeing as I’m behind in their catalogs, this is unacceptable.
There used to be a time when I could get through a book a week. It didn’t happen all of the time, but a two-week maximum for reading was fairly common. I know there are going to be people out there who can and do get through things much faster (I remember a former coworker who could get through a book so fast it was almost laughable–we’re talking about an hour or two, and with full comprehension), but for a guy with a regular job and a family, and all of the responsibilities that come with that (have I mentioned the dog and cat who each require their own time and attention?), in addition to writing/editing/etc., sometimes that just doesn’t leave a whole lot of time.
Of course that’s a debatable point, because time spent playing on the phone, or playing the latest game on the computer (Civilization 5, anyone? Yes, I realize it came out last year, but I’m talking about being behind on things here), or reading message boards could be seen as “wastes,” they’re often necessary as the brain needs time away from the Real World to relax.
There is a point, however, when that time away becomes egregious and one must realize that there are better ways one could occupy their time.
This isn’t to say that I regularly waste hours doing things that have little to no actual bearing in life besides being enjoyable (I’ll take a great game over a great movie most any day), but I think almost all of us agree that we could cut a little bit of that relaxation time back a bit and focus on things that are slightly more rewarding. In my case, that means reading.
One of my favorite authors is RA Salvatore. I discovered him years ago, despite knowing about him for many years prior, and devoured his books. I made a lot of trips to Barnes & Noble in those days to pick up the next book, or next several as it were, because I was reading them so quickly.
He’s written a lot of books since then, and with the exception of one two (not including reissues), I’ve purchased every one. But I haven’t read all of them. I still have, at last count, six of his I haven’t read yet, and only a couple of those have come out in the last year. Yikes!
And then there’s EE Knight and his Vampire Earth series in which I’m a couple of books behind. Crap!
And Jim Butcher? I’m only one book behind in his Dresden Files series and it just came out a month or so ago, so that’s not too bad.
What about Max Barry? His newest just came recently as well, but I haven’t read it yet.
I could keep going, of course, but then that’d be time spent doing things that could be better spent reading.