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How much do you read? What do you read?

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by wickedwritah, Jan 29, 2007.

  1. wickedwritah

    wickedwritah Guest

    Lately, I really have fallen off the reading train -- besides editing our reporters' copy (and pulling my hair out), that is.

    I remember what a professor of mine said a few years back. "The best writers always read."

    I have to admit, I haven't been a big book-reading type since I was a kid, when I devoured them. Nowadays, it's devouring CNN.com and the other Web sites out there, and occasionally downing a copy of Time, but a book can't keep my ADD-esque attention.

    A couple things I'd love to see addressed in this thread.
    1. Do you agree that to be the best writer you need to be reading 24-7?
    2. How much reading do you do? Mostly work-related research? Leisure book reading? Leisure magazine reading?
    3. As the Internet has come into our lives, have your reading habits changed greatly?

    Just some things kicking around in my brain while I procrastinate (ADD again) on a story or three.
  2. audreyld

    audreyld Guest

    I do believe good writers have to read. Actually, I think good writers should have a sort of love affair with the written word.

    I read whenever possible, and try to read a little before bed each night. When I moved here and didn't know anyone, I put away nearly a book a night the first two weeks.

    I read mags, I do research and I read fiction.
  3. Clever username

    Clever username Active Member

    I've been feeling the same way, Wicked. I don't read nearly enough, and what I do read is usually just magazines (SI and Esquire, mostly) and articles on the internet.

    I think the best writers need to read because that's the only way to see the language in use, at least proper use. Every so often I feel like my writing is stagnating. Reading someone new, even if it's just a new columnist, might lead you to a different turn of phrase. Some might call it stealing, which I guess it is, but you have to cultivate your own style by learning from the styles of others.
  4. SoSueMe

    SoSueMe Active Member

    When I was at my first job, thousands of miles from home, I was reading book after book - on the balcony, in the bathroom, on the couch.

    It was just me and the better half. She was working two jobs, I had lots of time and thought - and still believe - reading was/is what good reporters do.

    I bookmarked several newspapers' sports sections and read them in the morning while I had coffee.

    Then, we started making friends, moving, I got a daily gig (two more since) and I had less and less time.

    I'll admit, outside work, I've got a bit lazy. Maybe because I'm older, I don't know, but I just want to lay on the couch and get lost in TV and sports.

    Did the internet change my habits? I don't know. I think because of my age, it is a habit. The newspapers I read online are ones I can't subscribe to or buy at the local store. But I've always been that way. Then again, the internet was "invented" when I was a senior in high school.

    I'd love to subscirbe (again) to GQ, SI and The Sporting News, but the fiancee says we can't afford it.
  5. wickedwritah

    wickedwritah Guest

    I had SI, then I switched to Time. I just found that I was more interested in what I would see on the cover of Time at the gym or the oil-change place than I was in what was on SI's cover.
  6. spup1122

    spup1122 Guest

    I'd say the internet has definitely changed my habits of reading. I still read a couple of magazines every month (US Weekly and Cosmo -- I know that says A LOT) but I rarely read books. I asked for a couple of books for Christmas from my parents because they were easy to ship and went through them quickly. I've started reading more again, but once I start the new job, I can see myself falling off the train again.

    I do agree that to be better writers, we all need to read more, but I won't go so far as to say that reading articles on the internet isn't the type of reading we should do. I believe reading an article on the internet is pretty much the same as reading it in a hard copy of a magazine.
  7. wickedwritah

    wickedwritah Guest

    Agree on that, of course. But when you're on the Internet, you can get distracted reading MySpace blogs for 30 minutes instead of going over to time.com like you'd planned on doing to read that takeout piece.
  8. BYH

    BYH Active Member

  9. SCEditor

    SCEditor Active Member

    I go through phases. I read my four regular magazines (Sports Illustrated, Newsweek, US News & World Report and the New Yorker) each week, but I rarely read any books. When I do, I go through a month-long phase where I blow through two or three books a week. Of course, that reading phase usually coincides with a John Grisham release.

    The internet has definitely changed how I view newspapers. I rarely, if ever, purchase a newspaper, unless I'm going to lunch at the little Mexican restaurant across the street. Then I'll buy the paper so I have something to read while I eat.

    I think reading does help one become a better writer. It helps you see other people's style and prose, and give you a fresh look at how to take different angles on stories and subjects. If anything else, you can read to pick up a word that maybe you haven't used in a while or never thought to use. I kid you not, the other day I saw the word pregnant in Sports Illustrated, but in the phrasing of "pregnant with possibility" or something like that. While I'm not going to use the word pregnant in my prep gamer anytime soon, it was one of those things that made me stop, read the sentence again and go, "Hmm, nice." Or maybe that's me.
  10. Writers must read. Period.
    I live in constant terror of waking up in a hotel room with nothing to read except the Bible or "The Conrad Hilton Story," both of which I've already read.
    I try to keep one nonfiction -- usually history -- and one fiction going at once. Right now is "Democracy Reborn" by Garrett Epps about the fight for the 14th Amendment during Reconstruction, and Huck Finn (again). Once a year, I read At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O'Brien, because it's my favorite book in all the world.
  11. John

    John Well-Known Member

    I read about two books a week, in addition to several papers (mostly online) and my monthly Esquire.

    I read everything from King to Faulkner to Hiaasen to most of the Best American collections. As long as I'm entertained or learning (hopefully both), then it doesn't matter the genre.

    I've been an avid reader since I was a kid and I simply love reading for 30 minutes (sometimes more) before I go to sleep. On my days off, I might spend three hours reading, depending on how into the book I am.

    I bought 1776 today, which I look forward to starting in about 20 minuntes.
  12. Jones

    Jones Active Member

    I believe writers need to read, not only for the brainwork and the inspiration, but to find the nuggets of story ideas and to flat-out steal good lines. Song lyrics are good to steal, too; feels more like a tribute than theft, then.

    Okay, that's a joke. Sort of.

    I read mostly non-fiction, because I prefer true stories. Plus, that's what I write, so I feel like I can mine it better for structure, say. (I owe Hampton Sides big for Ghost Soldiers.)

    When I read a novel, it's usually a modern classic, something I feel like I should read, if only to say that I have. Right now, I'm reading For Whom The Bell Tolls by Hemingway. That'll probably fuck up my writing bad for a couple of months, but it was one of those books I was ashamed not to have read.

    I'm a slow reader, because I tend to edit stuff as I go along, but I try to get through a book or two each week.

    I really think it's like a hitter taking BP. Helps sharpen your swing, if nothing else.
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