This seems pretty obvious, and is often repeated, but it's important enough to be said yet again. Good writers read A LOT. That does not mean everyone who reads a lot will be a good writer. But you do get better at spotting good writing (where "good" is subjective, but tends to mean "keeps you engaged and interested"). There is, however, one condition:
You have to read a lot of different types of books.
If all you ever read is the same type of books - even if it's classic 18th century English literature - you're missing out, whether you're a writer or not.
With the excitement and craziness of figuring out this new world of self-publishing, my reading time definitely took a hit over the past few months. I felt it even more than I feel the lack of regular exercise. It is much easier to fit in a few pages before bed, however, than a run around the block, so this month I've managed to read quite a bit more compared to previous months. As a result, I am feeling much more inspired and positive about my own writing.
What am I reading? I try to keep my Goodreads feed up to date, but I don't update it every day with the little 1% I manage to read every night. And then I also have a weird system where I have to read something familiar right before bed. I simply cannot fall asleep reading a new book. My mind is just too curious. So I switch to something like Harry Potter, or one of the Oscar Wilde Murder Mysteries or Luxe novels I've read a hundred times.
Right now I am in the middle of 3 books. One historical fiction, one YA contemporary, and one by Marc Levy (in French). I started a YA fantasy but I think I need to finish the historical first, because too many unfamiliar names and places is a bit confusing when I'm reading at the end of a long day.
3 seems to be the right number for me (technically 4 with my "falling asleep" book). It's like I can feel my brain expanding by switching back and forth, each one stimulating a different part of my creativity. Each one gives me completely different ideas and inspirations, but then my mind links them into something new and exciting.
Since I haven't totally figured out what genre I prefer writing in, it's like everything I read makes me want to write in that genre. And maybe I will. I feel like most people read a lot of different types of books (or at least two or three) so why should writers limit themselves to only one?
What are you reading right now? Is it inspiring your own writing?