As a Writer, How Do You Read?

I’m assuming that most of you that write books were readers of books before you ventured out creating your own. I would also guess that the genre you’ve chosen to write in mirrors what you prefer to read. I don’t know this for sure, but it’s true in my case.

So, how should authors read? Before this question can be answered, it’s important to understand the reasons WHY authors should read. Here are some of them:

not to do

  • Learning what to do (and what not to do) – You can learn a great deal about wonderful techniques that writers use by reading the works of some of the designated masters. I write in the detective/mystery genre. I’ve learned a ton from reading books by Elmore Leonard, Jonathan Kellerman, John D. MacDonald and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Those authors are successful for a reason. They’ve either had a very successful book that has made their other works sell at a high rate or their body of work is recognized as being worth reading. Exemplifying what they did in their writing is not a bad practice.


  • Reading non-fiction works about writing – I consider myself a lifelong learner. I’ve read many non-fiction books that cover different aspects of writing. Stephen King’s book, On Writing, is a fascinating read. It not only gives helpful advice on writing, but it gives you a glimpse into King’s journey, complete with multiple rejections, as he came into his own as a writer. There are also many inexpensive books to help you on Amazon. A word of advice here, you might want to check the author’s credentials and the reviews before you purchase books on writing and publishing advice. If the author has very few reviews or his or her sales rank is low, it might not be worth following their advice.


  • Read books from different perspectives – One of my favorite books of all time is To Kill a MockingbirdI have read it three times, each from a different perspective. As a high school student, it was required reading. As I forced myself through the initial pages, I quickly became immersed in the story and enjoyed it thoroughly. The analysis of the book we did as part of the class helped me learn a lot about the construction of a good book. I read it again as an adult in my 20s. I just appreciated the narrative of that period of history. When I read it in my 50s in anticipation of Go Set a Watchman, the alleged sequel, I was moved by Scout’s relationship to her 50-something year old dad. At the time, I had a daughter the same age as Scout and I was about the same age as Atticus Finch. I began to see how my daughter might view me through her seven year-old eyes. When you read a classic, or even a contemporary book, read it as an author, learner, but above all, as a reader.

I hope this post has you thinking about how and why you read. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.


19 thoughts on “As a Writer, How Do You Read?

  1. That’s a tough one for me. I’m a really slow reader because I need more silence than I do with writing. Tend to go back in books to check info too if there’s a twist. Not sure when this habit started since I used to devour books quickly. I’ve been reading more manga these days since they require less time and still have literary aspects of novels. Great characters, fun stories, and unexpected twists, which does help with my writing. Since I do present tense third person, most novels don’t have much of an impact on my personal style.

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  2. Pingback: As a Writer, How Do You Read? — Author Don Massenzio – I Suck at Writing

  3. Hi Don,
    I have been a reader since childhood. Many times it was my escape from the reality of my world. Today, I enjoy reading even more, because I now know the efforts it takes to write a book. I draw ideas and energy from reading and transpose it to my writing. Thanks for sharing.

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    • Chuck, I could not agree with you more. I grew up in an urban area around the corner from a hospital. There were no other children around. Reading was my playtime. I still read 3-4 books a month today and write 2-3 books per year, blog and, oh, there’s the 50-60 hour per week job as well.

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  4. Hi Don, good question to think about. I read all the time, lots of different things. I like fantasy and sci-fi best. I like ‘fast’ writers. Ones who keep you turning the pages. People like Stephen King, Joseph Kellerman, Anne Rice, Piers Anthony, Carl Hiaason, Tom Robbins. I love it when they can add some humor into a great story. I also like historical fiction, horror, mystery, true crime, travel, biographies, funny stories, history, politics, philosophy, science. I used to read a book every 2-3 days. I’ve slowed down lately, reading more magazines for one thing, but I still get through a book every week or so.
    I haven’t written any books yet. I have written a couple of stories that have been published. I’m working on trying to pitch some others to magazines. It’s SO hard to do that! I am trying to learn to write better with my blog. I would like to write a book someday. I have started working on one, not really much to do with the kinds of things I like to read. It’s about how to sail around the world and get paid for it. Something I would LOVE to be able to do. I’ve been working on it my whole life and have lots of good suggestions for people. I wish I had more time to just chill out, relax and concentrate on reading, writing, photography, etc. Lately I’ve been spending too much time trying to find a paying job.

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  5. I feel lost without my books. I will read anything and everything as long as I have something. It helps tremendously with writing, as I pick up writing tips from my reading material. I’m pretty sure I even subconsciously mimic the writing of authors I like. However, it’s difficult to avoid accidentally plagiarising, more than once I’ve caught myself coming up with an idea for something I recently read.
    These days, I tend to say, more often than not, that my reading habit is out of control. As soon as I stumble upon a book I really like, I lose interest interest in writing and get absorbed into what I’m reading. Then I end up with a book hangover. I don’t stop writing, but I can tell the quality suffers. But I can’t go a day without reading. It’s a bit of an issue 😛

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