I've noticed a subtle change lately in the way I read. I've always been a voracious reader; it's not unusual for me to finish 2-3 books in a weekend. But now, I read differently. I pay attention to the language used, I analyze the characters, and I critique the plot. Who knew writing would interfere with my love of reading? Now, I'm not saying it's a bad thing. It's just different.
Does it make me a better writer? Definitely. Whenever I give my high school students a new writing assignment, I provide them with models. Reading good books provides the same benefits. We can learn from the experts. Earnest Gaines, author of A Lesson before Dying, provides writers with sage advice: "The Six Golden Rules of Writing: Read, read, read, and write, write, write."
But what about poorly written books? Is there a benefit in reading them too? Stephen King, in his book On Writing, believes that "bad books have more to teach than good ones." When we can identify the weaknesses in a poorly written book, then we can find out what to avoid or to improve in our own writing.
What do you think? Is reading beneficial? Would you spend your time reading "bad books" too? How has reading affected your own writing?
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