3 Reasons Writers Read Books

by Joe Bunting | 246 comments

Writers Read

Photo by Steve Coutts

Every once in a while, I hear a writer say something like, “I don't need to read. I'm too busy writing to read.” Stephen King would have something to say to this, but I keep quiet. Writing is hard enough. I don't want to make it harder.

For me, though, reading inspires, instructs, and helps me connect with other authors more than any other habit.

Why Writers Read

I enjoy reading, but even more, I enjoy how reading affects my writing.

Here are three things I've noticed about reading's relationship to writing.

1. Reading Inspires

In an interview with the Paris Review, Maya Angelou said:

I'll read something, maybe the Psalms, maybe, again, something from Mr. Dunbar, James Weldon Johnson. And I'll remember how beautiful, how pliable the language is, how it will lend itself. If you pull it, it says, ‘Okay.’ I remember that, and I start to write.

Reading inspires writing. It always has. Writing is a way to say “thank you” to the authors who have touched our lives

Writing can also be an act of rebellion against the way our favorite author's saw the world. Martin Amis said of his father, Kingsley Amis, “When my father started writing, he was saying to older writers—for instance, Somerset Maugham—it's not like that. It's like this.”

Whether in gratitude or rebellion, reading is fuel for your writing.

2. Reading Instructs

In an interview with Charlie Rose, the late David Foster Wallace said, “The way I am as a writer comes very much out of what I want as a reader.”

The more I read, the better my sense for how to craft stories. I understand my characters better. Reading teaches us how to write. Reading shows us the possibilities of language. Sometimes, reading even challenges us to write something better than what we're reading.

When you read writers you admire, read slowly and carefully. Ask, “What was he trying to do when he wrote this? How did she craft this sentence? Why does this create such a powerful emotion in me?”

3. Reading Connects

I have a few friends who are writers, and whenever they write a book, I try to read it. I know what it's like to put my heart and soul into ink and pieces of paper and have no one I know read it. I also know what it's like when a friend tells me, “I read your book. It was great!”

Before I interview a writer, I try to have some familiarity with the books they've written. I may not read everything they've written, but I'll read something. I do it because I want them to know I understand them, that I care.

For writers, reading is about relationship. These other authors, they're our friends, our co-laborers, our kin, whether we know them or not, whether they're dead or alive. By appreciating the work they do, we appreciate ourselves.

10 Books Every Writer Should Read

Now that you're ready to get reading, what books should you read? Here are ten novels I recommend:

Science FictionReady Player One by Ernest Cline

War: For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

Love/RomancePride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Fantasy Contemporary: Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Fantasy Classic: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Science Fiction Classic: Dune by Frank Herbert

Adventure: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

LiteraryAll the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy

Young Adult: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

MysteryAnd Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

To Be a Great Writer

To be a great writer takes time. I understand you're busy, that you may not have two or three hours a day to read. That's fine. You won't hear any guilt tripping or condemnation from me. Life is hard. Why make it harder?

However, if you want to be a great writer, you will have to find time to read. Philip Roth talks about his writing habits:

It's work. Just endless work. There isn't time for any bullshit. I just have to work all the time, very hard, and cut everything else out.… I write from about ten till six every day, with a hour out for lunch and the newspaper. In the evenings I usually read. That's pretty much it.

How many hours do you spend reading per week? How many books do you want to read this year? How has your reading empowered your writing?

PRACTICE

Today, I challenge you to read at least one chapter of a book. If you're up for it, let me know by leaving a comment saying, “I'm in!”

If you're looking for a great book, you can find one in the list above.

Have fun and happy writing reading!

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Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

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246 Comments

  1. R.w. Foster

    I read about 2-3 books at a time, over the course of a week. That may be why I’m trying to *write* four at once. (smh)

    Reply
    • Giulia Esposito

      Hmm, I do this too…..you might have a good point here R.W.

    • Joe Bunting

      Ha! Interesting connection. I wouldn’t have thought of that, but it makes sense.

  2. Giulia Esposito

    Joe, I’m an avid reader. I always tell everyone, I learned to read when I was 8 and I haven’t stopped since. But majoring in English forced me to stop reading for pleasure and to always always be a critical reader. When I finally completed my degree, I still read, but at a much slower pace. I was also a snob so I was picky about what I read. For nearly 10 years, I was too snobbish to read what I liked, or frankly, even know what I liked anymore. Some time last year, I got so sick of picking up books that I wasn’t interested in, and asked my friend to give me something mindless to read. She introduced me to romance, and that’s when I learned what a snob I’d been! Last year, I read 107 books and the more I read, the more I realized I wanted to write, a dream I gave up in high school. And I found that the more I read things I loved, the more I wanted to write. It was completely inspiring. This year my challenge is 125, with a few clauses. So I’m in!!

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      What a great testimony to the power of reading. I majored in English, too. The tools I picked up were great, but getting over my the snobbishness that came with the degree has been important.

    • Giulia Esposito

      I totally agree, I wouldn’t change my major for anything else, but while it gave me a fantastic skill set, it turned me into a bit of a snob. Luckily we are getting over that now Joe.

    • Jason Ziebart

      I’m still getting over my snobbery, but I’ve landed back in academia on the teaching side, so I’m put in a catch-22 sometimes with reading selections. I tried something new this semester and let my students have a say in the fiction selections from the textbook. It’s been fairly successful, but it’s also opened my eyes to newer stories that I’ve easily overlooked because it’s so hard to ignore the classics. I started three books last June. Two were modern and the other was _For Whom the Bell Tolls_. I finished the thriller in two days, the drama in about a week, and I finally finished Hemingway’s classic in November.

    • Giulia Esposito

      I like that you’re offering the students selections! Too often as teachers, we don’t take the students interests into consideration. Letting them take the lead will allow them to facilitate their own learning in ways you probably never would have imagined. Students of all ages will tell us what they need from us as teachers, if we take the time to observe and interact with them. Glad you are doing it, it cheers my teacher’s soul 🙂

    • Sefton

      My English degree put me off reading anything literary forever. Twenty years on I still shy away. I guess I felt that a lot of the books we analysed were popular books – Austen, Dickens, Christie – and that we were analysing them way beyond the author’s intentions. I feel like it’s only in the twentieth century that writers have consciously tried to be literary, a trait that I also can’t stand. So I love popular books. Grisham, Child, Keyes, King. They’re popular because they’re good quality, good storytelling. For me, that’s the end. If it works, it’s good. I’ve had to put down various literary works – booker prize winners and so forth – because the storytelling was (in my opinion) horrendous. I now won’t pollute myself with stuff that’s unrewarding. So I still read constantly but am tremendously picky about which authors, because thanks to 3 years of picking at stuff the authors never meant us to pick at, I can’t bear anything with a subtext.

      Yay for Eng Lit recovery!

  3. Christine

    Sounds like a great idea! I’ll give it a try.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Awesome. Best of luck, Christine.

  4. themagicviolinist

    I read about half of The Maze Runner in one night and then the rest of it the next morning. 😉 I’ve also learned that listening to one of the Harry Potter books on CD at night helps me to fall asleep.

    Reply
    • Giulia Esposito

      How can you fall asleep listening to Harry Potter books? I stayed up all night to read them!

    • Karl Tobar

      Same, Giulia. Came dangerously close to being late for work a few times, too.

    • themagicviolinist

      I’ve read them so many times over I’ve memorized what’s going to happen. 😉 Jim Dale is awesome.

    • Giulia Esposito

      So I quote it at you and you’d know exactly which scene and which book? Awesomeness.

    • themagicviolinist

      Hmmm . . . Probably. Want to try? 😉

    • Giulia Esposito

      Love to! But we probably shouldn’t 😉

    • Joe Bunting

      I know what you mean, MV. I used to do that with movies I’d seen dozens of times.

    • Audrey Chin

      I love Harry Potter. But, actually, the writing’s pretty pedestrian. It’s the plot and atmosphere that save J.K. Rowing.

    • Giulia Esposito

      I don’t know, I found her style pretty clean and polished. She’s witty too. Plus, it’s children lit. For me, it was the themes in the series that inspired me more than the overall plot.

    • themagicviolinist

      I can agree with you a little bit. The writing was not as great as it could’ve been for the first couple of books, but they were also written for 11 and 12-year-olds. The writing got even better as the series progressed.

    • Giulia Esposito

      Yes, the writing matures as the audience matures for sure. My cousin started reading that when it was first out (he was a kid at time) and when the last book came out, he was still completely addicted to the series and he was 17 by that time. So Rowling kept her original audience hooked from beginning to end that way.

    • themagicviolinist

      I was seven when the last book came out. I was (by far) one of the youngest people at the midnight release, besides my brother who was four.

    • Giulia Esposito

      I preordered and picked it up the next day. I was a lot older than you.

    • themagicviolinist

      Okay, I finished an entire 200-page book last night! I thought I would only read a little bit, but I just had to finish it! I also ended up reading half of another book after that book.

  5. Marla4

    I’m in. I finished Elizabeth Berg’s Open House last night started reading the Paris Review selected short stories just after. I may have a slight reading addiction.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Nice, Marla. That sounds like fun. 🙂

    • Rico Elhady

      As a writer or a reader, who doesn’t have a reading addiction. I have a powerful addiction, to fantasy, action, and adventure. Give me a book, I’ll finish it in a hour. Give me a different genre than in a day.

  6. Ava Jae

    Great post, Joe. You really can’t emphasize enough how important reading is for writers. As Stephen King said (and what I’m guessing you were referring to at the beginning of your post), “If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Thanks Ava. Yep. I like that quote.

  7. eva rose

    Great idea! I don’t read 100 a year but I always have one next to me. I’m a slow reader because I read and reread favorite passages, phrases and wording. (I also read to school children once a week which is fascinating!) Good writing is such an inspiration. Wherever possible I try to respond to a blog because feedback is so important to a writer.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Slow reading is probably better than fast reading, Eva. Good for you.

    • Audrey Chin

      Eva, great thought about children. I still love Charlotte’s Web and Are You My Mother? They may be children’s books but they’re hitting on eternal truths.

    • themagicviolinist

      My mom loved Are You My Mother?

  8. fcmalby

    This is a great and very honest post. Reading and writing are an inseparable partnership. Ian McEwan reads for as many hours as he writes each day.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      I like that.

  9. Adam Smusch

    I’m in. I’m reading the Orchard Keeper by Cormac McCarthy right now

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Ooh, going for the old stuff. Tell me what you think of it when you’re done. I haven’t read it yet.

  10. Boda

    I’m In!!!

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Great! Thanks Boda.

  11. Karl Tobar

    I’m in. Let’s see so far this year I’ve read… 2 books. But in my defense, Stephen King’s “Desperation” is well over 600 pages and a lot of time has also been dedicated to reading short stories! I just finished “The Langoliers” and I am about 10 pages into “Secret Window, Secret Garden.” They’re both in a book called “Four Past Midnight” which has 4 of King’s stories.

    The thing is, Four Past Midnight is almost 800 pages while Secret Window, Secret Garden is about 150 of those pages. Do I count SWSG as a book, or do I read 266 pages as a third of the entire 800? Hmm. Either way I guess I better get to it.

    Great post Joe

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      It’s a little harder to measure like that, isn’t it. It sounds to me like you’re doing just fine, though.

    • Audrey Chin

      Well, since most books are about 200-300 pages, you’re really doing 2 or 3 books in one go according to the “average” measure.

  12. Xaviera Gp

    I´m in! 😀 i actually made a challenge on goodreads!

    Reply
  13. Lucia Rojas

    Thanks for a great post, Joe. I just joined this site and am loving it. What a relief to know I don’t have to choose between the two things I love most-reading AND writing. Too long ago, I bought into some BS piece of advice that reading while writing would keep me from “finding my voice”. Currently working my way through C.S. Forester’s, Hornblower and the Hotspur and Robert K. Massie’s biography of Catherine the Great.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      I think there is a bit of truth in that, but I would only worry about it if you’re noticing it affecting your writing in a negative way. For me, the affects of reading are all but positive, so it’s worth the risk. Also, all writers are a combination of the voices of other writers. As Cormac McCarthy said, “The hard truth is that books are made from books.”

      Also, I love the Hornblower series!

  14. PJ Reece

    Recently reading Nikos Kazantzakis’ memoir, “Report to Greco”, I am filled with his spirit of urgency and passion for life. Reading Kazantzakis is like being infused with a passion that is like a memory of being younger and wilder, and I want to dive into my own writing with that same gusto. Reading unearths realms that lie dormant within me. I just returned from the used book store with a small heap of novels and travel books by Kazantzakis. I challenge anyone to read Zorba the Greek and not feel more alive.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      I love this, PJ.

  15. Guest

    I’m In! At the beginning of 2013, I decided to challenge myself to read at least 4 books per month and to complete a Read Through The Bible In A Year plan. So far, I’m on track. As far as writing goes, I am considering starting a book review blog…but first I need start writing more consistently on the blog that I started last summer. I’ve been lacking self-discipline in the writing area!

    Reply
    • Guest

      (Sorry for my goofy post above…I was editing my Disqus profile and I accidentally posted my comment before the profile updating finished and it posted me as “Guest” with an additional photo.)

    • Joe Bunting

      Don’t worry about it. 🙂

  16. Juliana Austen

    I have been reading Siri Hustvedt “The shaking woman or a history of my nerves” – fascinating! She spends some time exploring language, and reading. One of the things she says about reading is that it is the closest we get to living inside another person’s head. Living their ideas, experience and their point of view. I think this is why I find it so difficult to write realistic characters. To experience different points of view I need to read more! And not just the sort of writing that I like, that I am comfortable with but the stuff that challenges me.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      I know what you mean, Juliana. It’s fun to read outside of your comfort zones.

    • Audrey Chin

      This sounds interesting. I’ll put it in my to-do list. You might find The Kitchen Daughter another interesting read. It’s about a woman with Asperger’s who conjures the ghosts of her loved ones when she cooks from recipes they’ve handwritten.

  17. Padma Ayyagari

    I have started this year with a challenge to myself to read a book every week, that will be 52 books and I have fallen short of that challenge already by about 2 books. I understand the connection between reading and writing but when working full time, running a business and a household takes over, there is very little time to express creativity in the remaining time by writing a blog and painting, so the intention is there but I have to find a way to squeeze in the reading. I did give myself a challenge of cutting down TV completely ( I don’t watch much as it is) but that is not actively implemented at the moment. I will get back to that challenge starting today and use that time to read…Thank you for the challenge, may be I can reach the goal of 52 if not 100.
    Regards
    Padma
    http://www.areyouchanging.org

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      That’s a great compromise, Padma. Good for you.

  18. Madison

    I haven’t read a book in so long. Ever since I got the idea for my story last year, it’s been hard for me, but I’m in! I think I’ll start The Great Gatsby.

    Reply
    • Karoline Kingley

      The Great Gatsby is great (no pun intended.) It’s short too, so it won’t take you long. It’s a deep as well, so it’s good for critical reading.

    • Joe Bunting

      I’m reading that for a book club. It’ll be my 3rd time!

    • Audrey Chin

      That’s such a nice read Madison. You won’t be sorry you started. And the prose… so seductive.

  19. Antonia

    I’m in. I used to read constantly, but I’ve just started Year 11, and the workload’s picking up, so since the start of Year 10 I haven’t been reading so much. This is just the push I need. I want to read like I used to. I’ve read three books so far this year, so I’ve got some catching up to do.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Three books is still really god, Antonia.

  20. ankit

    good post

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Thanks Ankit.

  21. Karoline Kingley

    I spend an hour or two a day reading, but I mostly read classic novels which tend to be long, so it can take me a while to get through it. I would estimate I read about 25-30 books a year. Right now I am reading “The Fault in Our Stars,” and I am half way through after one day. I can’t decide if that is because the plot is gripping, or the book is shorter than what I am used to.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      I’ve heard such good things about that.

    • themagicviolinist

      I started reading The Fault in Our Stars one day and finished it late that night. I LOVED it!

  22. Jay Warner

    Train Dreams by Denis Johnson is a fantastic little book that is quick to read but has amazing depth and language that just pulls you into the story. It was the fastest read so far for me this year. Now I am reading the Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal which is luxurious and dreamy. It’s taking me a bit longer. I tend to like books with depth, history, rich language and even richer imagery. I don’t know if I will make it to 100 books this year, but I am going to shoot for 75. So far I have read 5. I definitely feel that I am a better writer because I am a reader.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      I read that last year. It was brilliant. I like how you describe your interests. I have similar tastes.

    • Audrey Chin

      I read Hare last year Jay. It was slow going but sooo interesting. Well worth it in the end, and I really learnt a lot about continental early 20th century Jewish families.

  23. Jon Stallings

    My goal is no where near 100 books. Normally I read between 15 to 20 books per year. The constant investment of words helps me with writing ideas and helps me enhance my own style. I have worked in the tech field for many years so my writing tends to be very short and too the point. Reading great books helps me add a little more complexity and creativity to my own writing.

    Reply
  24. Audrey Chin

    Yes Joe! Reading is one of the basic 3’s to becoming a writer, then a good writer and hopefully a great one. The other 2 are writing and listening/watchin. Listening/watching to ourselves and our world is how we get our stories. Writing is a basic, otherwise the stories don’t get told. And reading, well that’s polishing our craft.
    I read about 3 hours everyday but that’s work – lots of economics, statistics, accounting and legal/regulatory mumbo jumbo.
    I read about 2 hours every night from blogs, literary journals and a big book. I really recommend Longreads and Longform Fiction on Flipboard for anyone who wants to dip into something well written that’s less than 5000 words.
    Recently I’ve been reading thrillers and mysteries because I’m trying to write one. Also doing reviews for Story Cartel. I manage about 4 books a month, slow for the course, I know.
    Just re-read Ursula Le Guin’ 4 Ways to Forgiveness (wonderful sci-fi recreation of the aftermath of a other-planet slave society) and PD. James – The lighthouse (classic British whodunit). Have also devoured Philipppa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl. I’m in the middle of The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown. It’s curiously written in a 3rd person plural omniscient! But it works.
    I’m in… slowly though. Not at 2 books a week.

    Reply
  25. Valerie OBrien

    I’m in! And this post has encouraged me to finish “On Writing” today.

    Reply
  26. Laura

    I wasn’t aware we needed reasons to read. 🙂

    Reply
  27. Mirelba

    Just wrote a whole post that seemed to have disappeared.

    I think that we read because we love the written word, don’t you think? I remember after learning to read, being blown away by the ability of a good book to whisk me off to far away worlds and experiences.

    Up until recently, I would read 2-3 books a week, but since starting researching my novel, I’ve been reading more in Hebrew, my second language, in which I’m fluent but slower. Located in Jerusalem, that’s what I have greater access to. Last month I read 4 memoirs and research books in Hebrew, half a novel (excellent, but not translated into English yet) and only 2.5 books in English (1 research and 1.5 Story cartel novels). So I’m way ahead of my yearly average for reading in Hebrew, and behind my monthly average in numbers of books read in total. But hey, who knows, maybe it will pick up, so I’m game.

    Reply
  28. Lisa Banning

    I’m in! I think you gave me the excuse I need to take more time to read. I always feel a bit guilty and indulgent. But this is an assignment, it’s work!!! Thanks

    Reply
  29. Michael Cairns

    Hi Joe
    Thanks for the post, a timely reminder.
    I’d love to join you, but 100 is perhaps a little beyond me time wise. Having said that, I spent a couple of days in bed last week ill and got some serious reading done, so maybe a few more sick days might be in order 🙂
    I thought your second point was particularly important. I’ve always read, but only recently taken to dissecting and enjoying what particular authors do in a conscious way.
    cheers
    Mike

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Thanks Mike. Isn’t dissecting fun? I’ve learned more about writing that way. I hope you’re feeling better!

  30. Sherry

    I’m in. Thank you for the challenge. This will help me set goals and improve my writing.

    Reply
  31. Bailey VandeKamp

    I’m in! I’m on goodreads.com and I am trying to read 150 books this year!

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Wow. That’s a lot Bailey! Good luck. 🙂

  32. Peter B.

    I’m in! I’m starting off with 11/22/63. It “only” has 849 pages! =)

    Reply
  33. Hindra Saputra

    Whoa, my all time favourite Pride and Prejudice at the romance section.

    Yup, I do agree with writing for rebellion part. The reason I started to write it’s because of my personal dislike about E.*. J***s books and at the fact of how could such a worst romance story ever (IMO of course) hitting a worldwide record instead of the great Jane Austen’s ? What’s wrong with peoples nowadays ? LOL.

    And yeah, I do agreed that writers must try to spent few hours to read. I like to read books and true, it helping me a lot to built my story eventhough it’s not easy. Thanks for the must read book in the romance section Joe. I’ll definetely hunt the others and read them all.

    Reply
  34. Alexandra Reid

    When I went graduate school in 2009 to study script and screenwriting, my writing sucked. I couldn’t understand it. One day, out of curiosity, I rented the first Twilight film (Blockbuster still existed). I enjoyed the film so much I read the book. I finished it in a week, maybe less, and spent many a night reading into the wee hours of the morning. My next writing assignment, I noticed my expression of ideas and use of language much improved. Plus, I’d rediscovered the joy of reading. Now, I challenge myself to read new genres. However, I have a question: Does listening to a book still count as “reading” it?

    Reply
  35. Audrea Stewart Strelo

    I’m in!

    Reply
  36. shiwangi agarwal

    I’m in! Reading Anna Kraennina

    Reply
  37. Athraa Hashim

    I’m in ..” And then there were none ” by Agatha Christie

    Reply
  38. Catherine Murphy

    Read all the books on your list but two (and a thousand others!). All great!! Because of that “practice” (of reading) I can be one/two paragraphs into a book and know if the writing is good. The more you read, the more it becomes an inner, natural barometer of the quality of writing you are engaged with. As with spoken language, the ear can innately hear poor grammar when it happens?

    Reply
  39. Sunny Shrivastava

    Appreciate your suggestions Joe… reading matters, it’s like nourishment for your thoughts…thanks…

    Reply
  40. Zaina

    I’m in!
    I am in the middle of writing my first chapter for my book and realised that many other books provide inspiration for my book especially how a character feels and the emotion they show.

    Reply
  41. Tura Street

    I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone today.

    Reply
  42. chetna saini

    “I’m in!”

    Reply
  43. Eleni Papadopoulou

    I’m in! I am currently reading the “One flew over the cuckoo’s nest” by Ken Kesey. The list of the books that you recommended is very interesting. I have read some of them and, of course, I will make sure that I will read the rest of them!

    Reply
  44. Josiah Stoll

    I’m in! That was awesome!

    Reply
  45. Atira

    So, definitely, in. I’m a voracious reader, and I could already tell that it contributed greatly to my writing endeavors. As I write, I find myself thinking “Hmm. That sentence isn’t inspiring the emotion I want it to. What sentences stick in my mind from my favorite authors that evoke a certain feeling? What did they do?”

    Reply
  46. Gareth Browne

    I’m in. I just finished reading a pulp sci-fi novel from the 70s called “Blood Music” by Greg Bear. It falls more into the category of books that challenge me to write something that I would prefer to read, although there are some enjoyable concepts and themes in there. I’ve moved onto George RR Martin’s first novel “Dying of the Light”, his only solo sci-fi novel.

    Thanks for the reading list, I am going to read Ready Player One next.

    Reply
  47. TJ

    I’m in! I’m a voracious reader – generally a book a day at least. I’ve read most of the books on your list (only missing two). I agree with Atira’s comment about a section or sentence not inspiring the emotion I want to convey and how reading can “help” with digging deeper and seeing how other authors overcame the block. My main challenge seems to involve getting “stuck” when I write a section or chapter that is not up to my standards or doesn’t seem to flow correctly. Anyone else running into that? And Joe, Thanks for offering this class!:)

    Reply
  48. Martina

    Thanks for the post. I’m in. Just need to decide which of the 3 books that I have on the go I am going to pick up tonight 🙂

    Reply
  49. love's.labor

    That’s a great challenge, because I have exactly one chapter I need to read from a book today. I’m in! 🙂

    Reply
  50. Jessi

    I’m in! ^ ^

    Reply
  51. Praveen Singh Bhandari

    I am in

    Reply
  52. Rachel

    I’m in!!!

    Reply
  53. azRieL ThaNe

    I’m in! Gonna go back to Middle Earth with “The Hobbit”

    Reply
  54. Angela

    I’m in

    Reply
  55. J Knopf

    I’m in! I just finished The Baron In The Trees by Italo Calvino and I just started Frank Herbert’s Dune.

    Reply
  56. Jomata Ejiro Daystar

    I AM IN FOR IT. THANKS SIR.

    Reply
  57. Lisa Lewellen

    I’m in! I am an English Ed student at MO State, and fortunately, I get to read…A LOT!!!

    Reply
  58. Galia Khosrovian

    I’m in

    Reply
  59. Yandisa

    This is the best thnks

    Reply
  60. Ronnie Mcgee

    I’m in

    Reply
  61. Lily Knight

    I’m in

    Reply
  62. Charles

    I’m in! I’m reading Clive Cussler’s Atlantic Drift at the moment.

    Reply
  63. Shelby helona

    Is it too late to join

    Reply
  64. Shelby helona

    I am in

    Reply
  65. Peace lover

    A secret I found when I was a kid…great advice…

    Reply
  66. Joelene Murphy

    I’m in…. Although I already read quite a lot I have not read any of the books in your list. I find it “easier” to read books from Authors that I know. But, starting today, I will get the books on the list and read them. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

    Reply
  67. Saransh Biswal

    I’m in.

    Reply
  68. Barbara Temple

    Hi
    This is something I am just discovering big time – I am challenging myself to read genres that I am unfamiliar or uncomfortable with so I can work out why I have that sort of response. Equally I am beginning to work out why I like certain styles of writing more than others and picking up techniques which I hadn’t considered before. I belong to the U3A (university of the Third Age) and have just been accepted into the Book Club – how awesome is that! The challenge of reading the same book as 11 other people and then discussing it together is going to be great fun as well as of benefit to my writing life which is in it’s infancy.

    Reply
  69. Khloie Casupang

    I’m in

    Reply
  70. the explainer

    I’m in! I actually read the hobbit before

    Reply
  71. Mahi Khan

    I’m in. Definitely!

    Reply
  72. Anna

    I read 60 hours in 3 and a half weeks. I really like reading, if you can’t tell. And I have quite a bit of free time, that helps.

    Reply
  73. Anthony Craxton

    OK, I’m in… I read quite a bit, but not much fiction – except in the newspaper

    Reply
  74. Fiona Brown

    I’m in

    Reply
  75. Heather

    I’m in! Reading a chapter in Ramona the Brave to my girls, read a chapter from the book of Exodus, and reading a few chapters of non-fiction on building womens ministries. Need to take more time to read each day.

    Reply
  76. Jenny Arsenyuk

    I love good stories. Stories connect people through time and space. So I am definitely in for more reading!

    Reply
  77. Sarah Barone

    Funny how I just finished reading the Alchemist with my class. It was a great book but I was upset on how the ending happened.

    Reply
  78. Tangam

    Hi.. Im in

    Reply
  79. Asmaa Abdul

    I’m in

    Reply
  80. Rico Elhady

    I am in. And just for the record I read more than I write. Even if I have some or no free-time i still, miraculously have the time to read and not write. But now I have the time to do both.

    Reply
  81. Adarsh

    I like to read novels. However I feel that my writing has not yet improved.

    Reply
    • Clark Wilson

      How are things now?

  82. smunoz

    I’m in! Jumping all in …

    Reply
  83. UnSub

    I’m in, but I’ve been in. I never planned on being a writer but when I discovered I had a story to tell the first thing I did was begin reading everything I could get my hands on. I promise you that many Amazon authors are very happy about that!

    Reply
  84. Walter Foster

    I am a reader, telling me to read ONE chapter is placeing limits in me lol. I read anything that catches my eye. Probably why I have three or four going at once.

    Reply
  85. Ridhwaan Amin (raj)

    I’m in. A chapter? Why not a whole book!

    Reply
  86. Abhimanyu

    I don’t the author is going to read this or not, but — Yes, I’m going to read atleast one chapter. Thanks! For wonderful post.

    Reply
  87. Janet Wollen

    I’m in

    Reply
  88. Karen

    I’m in!

    Reply
  89. Dr. G S Singh

    Thanks. I am into reading, though your list may be different. Started writing a story. Hope it shapes well.

    Reply
  90. Nancy

    I’m in!

    Reply
  91. narinder kumar

    I am in, Joe. Thanks for advice.

    Reply
  92. mister mister

    i’m in, i’m reading wuthering heights for the third time and trying to compare it with the movie filmed in 2011 to practice my writing skill too , believe me you won’t find a similar love story

    Reply
  93. Shanara

    I’m in

    Reply
  94. Fatima Zohra

    I’m in. I started Pride and Prejudice, and The book thief. My goal is to finish these two book this month no matter what.

    Reply
  95. Ajarn Nelson

    I’m in

    Reply
  96. Pragnya

    I’m in. I’m an absolute beginner. I really look forward to this.

    Reply
  97. mo 6month

    I’m in!

    Reply
  98. Rose Colon

    Love to read and yes at times it is put on the sideburner with little snips here and there. Commit to reading a chapter a day in fiction.

    Reply
  99. shanaz hosany

    I’m in! I have read a chapter of Shutter Island by Dennis Leanne 🙂

    Reply
  100. Loretta Lovitt Wheeler

    I’m in and agree wholeheartedly. As I start down this path that I hope leads me to who knows where and who knows when, I will continue to read. Thanks.

    Reply
  101. Rami Anadani

    I’m in! Actually right now I’m reading Oliver Twist. I know reading books written by the greatest is really enriching and wonderfully useful, but I don’t really understand how it works. As a writer, when can I feel a difference? Does reading books really change something in my way of writing or even vocabulary? I really don’t know…

    Reply
  102. Diane Krause

    I’m in. Lord of Misrule by Jaimy Gordan. Ok only a segment. It’s suppose to be rich in word choice.

    Reply
  103. Kathy L

    I’m in! I do read every night before going to bed. My husband gave me a Kindle for Christmas one year which did not please me at the time because I much rather hold a book but I have been downloading a variety of books written by authors I normally would not have read from my local library. I recently fell in love with books by Emilie Richards, her characters really draw me in; I would love to be able to have readers love my characters too.

    Reply
  104. Tammy Hart

    I was thrilled my exercise for the evening was reading. I’m committed to doing the exercises but I recently started “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman and I am just loving his writing. Reading it is like working on a jigsaw puzzle with someone. Every time he puts a piece in place it reveals a little more of the big picture and informs what might be coming next.

    Reply
  105. Yuliya Andresyuk

    I am an obsessive reader. I read every day. I have read almost everything on the list, I have to say – Hobbit – I just could not get into that book. Too slow for my liking

    Reply
  106. Joan

    Joe: To lose oneself in a book is to feel the pulse of that author. I love to read, for all the reasons you mention. Reading is entertaining; inspiring, motivating, educational, and relaxing all wrapped up in a gift from the author. When I pick up a book or read an article, I am thankful for the time and effort the composer put into each word. Power to the writer who reads!

    Reply
  107. Elizabeth

    Joe I posted under Learn to Read like a General Contractor. That piqued my interest and I read the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and posted my thoughts on 5 sentences.
    Good practice! Thank you.

    Reply
  108. Nishant Neerav

    “I” m in !

    Reply
  109. Nishant Neerav

    i religiously believe in : A good reader becomes a better writer and the best orator subsequently.

    Reply
  110. Sharwat Afreen QurEshi

    I am in !

    Reply
  111. Becky Gammon

    I am in! I love reading but I will be learning to read in a new way now. How exciting!

    Reply
  112. Jin Olivia

    I’m in!

    Reply
  113. Rich Weaver

    I’m in. I am currently reading Kevin Hearne’s Hounded. Once I have finished with that I might start on some of the books on tour list that I haven’t read. This group may be the kick in the pants I need to really get my writing started. thanks

    Reply
  114. Mareen Darmer

    I’m in. Just got my copy of Dan Browns Origin. Can’t wait to start reading. I try to read at least an hour a day. It’s part of my work-life-balance, just like sport. I wish you all a happy reading- day.

    Reply
  115. Hannah Cardel Poral

    im in

    Reply
  116. the 1stgeek

    I’m in.

    Reply
  117. Monica Starr

    I’m in!
    I have been reading Niel Gaiman’s “American Gods”. Love the book, as well as the Starz TV series.

    Reply
  118. William Mareng

    You are right, reading is important to the new writer, this is where one get idea, structure and encouragement that I can also do why him.

    Reply
  119. Valerie Smith

    I’m in. I have already read four of the books on your list. I love reading, I have done since the age of five. I will definitely read your other recommendations.

    Reply
  120. Nina Kaasa

    I’m in! I’ve read The Name of The Wind and all the Harry Potter books. I’m currently reading Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas 🙂

    Reply
  121. Patty Jones

    I’m in!

    Reply
  122. Claire Bond

    I’m in! I didn’t realise it was so important to read. I love reading but haven’t had the time lately and thought writing was more important. So back to the books it is 🙂

    Reply
  123. Evelyn Sinclair

    Im in! Alexander McCall Smith excites me. I connect with his African based stories – so typical of that continent.

    Reply
  124. Nacchinarkkiniyan M

    i’m in. i’ll start with for whom the bell tolls.

    Reply
  125. Alyssa Damron

    There’s a plate resting at the empty chair again. A full glass, and silverware too. Mom smiles and carries on her conversation with dad like everything is normal. You can see the creases of worry lining dads brow. He just smiles and nods, a lost look in his glazed eyes. “You’re not eating again” mom scolds the empty chair. Dad squeezed her hand and assures her that’s everything is ok. He knows he’s lying, but what can he do? He helps her clear the table, throwing away the food on the extra plate, before she notices. Mom washes the dishes and asks about school. Dad painfully watches her hum the tune she had created. Nothing is the same anymore. Nothing will ever be the same again. Mom, don’t you understand? Don’t you realize that you won’t get an answer? It’s ok to let go. I won’t blame you. She puts all the dishes away and heads for the couch, “How about a movie, Honey?” Dad knows that she isn’t speaking to him, yet he follows anyway. Maybe he thinks it will help. It won’t. Nothing will help. Mom doesn’t understand, Dad. She never will. She will always think that things are completely normal. Why can’t she just see it? Why can’t she see the way that she is slowly draining the life out of you? They say that going into shock can kill a person, but it doesn’t just kill one person. It’s like the domino effect. It knocks one down, and takes everyone else with it. It changes you. It makes you destructive. Mom looks at the empty chair and talks to me. Mom, don’t you realize? Can’t you see? You lost your daughter a long time ago.

    Reply
  126. james cuellar

    Thank you Joe, for coming in at the right time;I am just learning to write, also I`m working on a novel, Titled: Painting with blood; as I type this comment, and I don`t read much. I used to read a lot when I was in my younger years; but now, after reading the comments they have shared; I am inspired to read more often. I always needed an excuse to get out of the box I was in; but now, I can pick up my favorite book, of Sherlock Holmes. by Conan Doyle. Please stay true to the readers. I am in.

    Reply
  127. Ahmad Zulhamizi

    i’m in

    Reply
  128. Holly Ridge

    I love reading! One of the main reasons I feel I can be a successful writer is because I am thinking about another direction, or spin on the current book I’m enjoying. how can I put my own experiences into something similar?

    Reply
  129. Priyam batra

    I’m in!

    Reply
  130. Kitzki

    I’m in(The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien)! I read almost every day and I hope it will help me write. I really enjoyed the article, it was one of your successful ones!

    Reply
  131. JESUS REDONDO MENENDEZ

    I’m in!!! I just started following you, because I want to write short stories, I want to be a writer, a good one. I’m reading your book ¨Let´s write a short story”, so I hope it will be useful 😉

    Reply
  132. kdjfsd oskadp

    I’m in.

    Reply
  133. Randi Radcliffe

    I’m in! Currently reading BAOT (Basketball and Other Things) by Shea Serrano.

    Reply
  134. Vinod Kumar

    I am in

    Reply
  135. Nadine Adona

    I’m in. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

    Reply
  136. K_M_Kennedy

    I’m in! Reading Outlander currently. Gabaldon makes me want to write.

    Reply
    • Debra Farrell

      Me too – I have lived in the Scottish Highlands and although I am now in Spain, reading Outlander takes me back every time.

  137. Sumit Singh

    i am in. I am currently reading the amazing adventures of kavalier and clay. what a chore!

    Reply
  138. Amanda Leonard

    I’m in. I’m reading Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. I’ll start on the recommended books tomorrow.

    Reply
  139. Nika Gravador

    I’m on, I like to read novels and can finish it in one seating.=)

    Reply
  140. Pia Lopez

    I am in! I will commence my journey through the depths of literature.

    Reply
  141. Teresa

    I read all of the time. Any chance I get….I carry a book with me, and my Kindle with me. If I have to wait for an appointment, I read. If I have to wait for my daughter at a lesson, I read. When I should be sleeping at night, I read. I just started “On Writing” by Stephen King. I’m also reading “Under the Influence” by Joyce Maynard. “Finish” by Jon Acuff. A number of other non-fiction books. I have a stack of library books to read, and several books on my Kindle waiting for me. I also pre-ordered Elizabeth Berg’s new book I read a variety of genres and authors. I wish I could quit my job, so I could read. 😉

    Reply
  142. Neal Rodrigues

    I’m in

    Reply
  143. Jessica Jones

    I’m in Fantasy Contemporary: Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

    Reply
  144. asriya karki

    I’m in!

    Reply
  145. Safa

    So the first lesson is to read a book or a chapter? I can do that! Because I already do that!

    Reply
  146. ThaiThai Gilchrist

    I’m in. Just don’t know what book to read…

    Reply
  147. zainab mushtaq

    I’m in!

    Reply
  148. mjprincesa

    I’m in. Reading A moveable feast by hemingway

    Reply
  149. Ce

    I’m in. Before I Fall

    Reply
  150. Krixxy1234

    I’m in.

    Reply
  151. Krixxy1234

    i’m in

    Reply
  152. Allen

    I’m in. Wired for Story.

    Reply
  153. Sandra Losty

    I’m in. I will look at my book shelf and see what books I have to make a start at reigniting my passion for reading

    Reply
  154. hurria saqib

    i’m in

    Reply
  155. Safir

    I’m in. I finished a book today called Valentine’s Day. Just had one chapter to go.

    Reply
  156. Firdaus Khan

    im in.. And Then there were none!

    Reply
  157. Viola Elisabetta

    I’m in. Not a star by Nick Hornby. I read the first chapter and it seems really interesting.

    Reply
  158. Harry Kris

    I’m in

    Reply
  159. Shazia Hassan

    I’m in !!

    Reply
  160. Duncan Mortimer

    Thanks Joe. I’m in ….reading Dick Francis ‘Reflex.

    Reply
  161. Ethan

    I’m in!

    Reply
    • Carroll Robertson

      I’m in !

  162. Courtney Kay

    I’m in

    Reply
  163. Courtney Kay

    I’m in. “A Feast For Crows” is the book I’m currently reading… Truth be told I could definitely read more often than I do now

    Reply
  164. metta weburg

    I’m in!

    Reply
  165. Ernest Casas

    I’m in!

    Reply
  166. Gregory Govan

    ok I agree reading is writing , ” I’m in ”
    that first assignment , I wrote on my word pad because there was no editor/word prosessor availible
    In a fifteen minute exercise I did well in establishing the main charactor as a canabul and fetishist on a spirit quest
    do you still want that first assignment ?

    Reply
  167. Gregory Govan

    Joe your reading list needs attention, I haven’t read much but I have from the masters,
    Chekhov, Cervantes, Bradbury, we will continue this later, now that I “see” your old point
    vast writers have said the this and you all are right, to read is to write

    Reply
  168. Rosaline A

    I’m in Joe

    Reply
  169. Tech knowledge hub Education

    I am in. Mohammad Ashraf wani

    Reply
  170. lizfizzink

    I’m in

    Reply
  171. Stacy Braga

    I’m in. Currently reading The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.

    Reply
  172. prem

    I’m in.prem, India

    Reply
  173. hien

    i’m in

    Reply
  174. Rose Batsell

    I’m in! I think reading more than writing makes sense. I’m Reading The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by S.K. himself. My husband and I love his books but I haven’t read in years so I thought this might be a good one to start off with:)

    Reply
  175. Rose Batsell

    I’m in!

    Reply
  176. Michael Lui

    I’m in.

    Reply
  177. Sofiane

    I’m in.

    Reply
  178. Pavani

    I’m in. Picked up the book Agatha Christie’s book “And then there were none!”

    Reply
  179. northernwriter

    I’m in. The Book Of Dust by Philip Pullman

    Reply
  180. Jamie Guynup

    I’m in and I’m reading The 3rd book in the John Mathrson Series by William R. Forstchen.

    Reply
  181. Agave

    In. Reading “Shogun” by James Clavell and “Walden” by Henry David Thoreau.

    Reply
  182. Kim

    I’m in.

    Reply
  183. Kim

    I love to read. It’s a win win that reading can help improve my writing skills.

    Reply
  184. Sandra Hould

    I’m in, when I do not write, I read. My days are full to the rim. From doing my chores to reading and writing, I always keep busy. Books define me and I love it!

    Reply
  185. Brian Gyire

    I’m in. I really enjoyed reading when I was in school but now it seems I can hardly find the time for it. With this lesson I will make some time everyday to read something. Thanks for this lesson. But where can I get those ten books online?

    Reply
  186. varsha

    THE POWER OF SELF IDENTIFICATION
    How do we see ourselves? As GOOD or BAD.?
    These are the only two options we have. Either we can say Good of ourselves or Bad of ourselves. When we say good of ourselves- we feel it is nice, encouraging, and a pat always inspires you to get another on and another one for which we keep on encouraging ourselves always. This encouragement cycle is a vicious cycle we encourage for one thing we accomplish it, then we look for another engagement and we stick to it wholeheartedly. So this ADMIRATION, PAT, ENCOURAGEMENT is the MOTIVATIONAL part in fulfilling our dream goals. But unfortunately, we discourage, criticize and find faults only and try to correct by force which only ruins. How many of us sit and analyse our positive assets and negative assets of our own self.
    PRACTICALLY NONE. WE ONLY PONDER OUR FAILURES AND OUR NEGATIVE NATURE WHICH FINALLY OVERSHADOW OUR POSITIVE SELF. If the moment our thoughts are occluded with negative thoughts we should stop there and then and say to our own self- yes this is true I have this ill thing in myself but how can I make it beneficial for myself? Even opioids are used as anesthetic drugs. Even the stale foods can be a part of forming good manure in the soil. Even hunger is necessary for us to feed. SO, WHY NOT MY BAD PART SERVE ME TO CARVE OUT A BETTER ME OUT OF MY OWN DRAWBACKS.For example I am weak in mathematics. OK I am weak in mathematics, but mathematics has many parts algebra, geometry, trigonometry, statistics etc. Am I weak in all, probably no. So, we need to find out where all we are good may be trigonometry and geometry. So we begin from trigonometry and geometry and master it. When we do so we are actually encouraging ourselves, patting ourselves, and saying ourselves “you are awesome good”-We are encouraging ourselves I am good in mathematics. Once you have gained confidence in yourself for mathematics now touch those parts where you are so-so. In this part, in the starting you will get mixed responses. When you are able to solve the problem you feel good and when you are stuck up you gets demotivated and leave. It is good to take a break but not to give up. Keep pondering why my this answer has not come? Where have I gone wrong? These questions are actually helping you to find your own faults and seeking ways to reach those hidden mistakes. Reviewing actually helps in self correction. Thus, you finally reach to correct answer, if not you will try to find out your mistakes with other’s help which is sometimes necessary. So, finally you have overcome one hurdle. This is true for every problem solving in our lives. We need to keep ourselves motivated all the times, failures comes to break us but winners always find a hole of victory in their failure.

    Reply
  187. Geeta

    I’m in

    Reply
  188. Debra Farrell

    I read every day for around 2 hours or until my eyes need a rest. It is hard to find the time to read and write but since going back to reading, my writing has improved immensely and I actually want to write more because of the reading.

    Reply

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