When I was younger I read books like a starved convict. I was a regular at the tiny public library in my hometown. When I worked my way through the books that were age appropriate, I jumped over to the adult section. Then I had to hide the books from my mom, but that's another story for another day.
Reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's books (And I read them probably 6 or 7 times completely) inspired me. I knew, after reading her tales of growing up, that I could be a writer. Of course, first I knew I wanted to work around books. For the longest time I wanted to be a librarian. (Okay, I wanted to be a librarian who was also a paramedic who raised horses, but I digress.) Books have been a cornerstone in my life.
So many writers I know don't do a lot of reading. Too much else going on. Kids, job, writing, there's just no time to sit down and read.
Well, if you're serious about writing, you need to keep reading. You need to keep the printed word in front of your face. Read what you love, read what's current, read something you wouldn't normally read.
Do I have a stack of books as high as my hip in my room? Yes. Between the books my kids insist I read ("Youth in Revolt" is brilliant, BTW.) books my dear critique partner, Linda, suggests (Loved "The Help" but could not get into "The Tudors") and books I get from conferences, just to keep me in the romantic groove ("Hundreds of years to Reform a Rake." Terrible title, awesome book.) I have a ton to read. And that's not counting the books I pick up for myself. I've been promising myself to read "Brava Valentina" by Adriana Trigiani for almost a year.
Market insiders will tell writers to read what's current. That's the best way you're going to know the trends in publishing. And there's a lot of truth to that. Personally, I love Daphne du Maurier, and the Brontes, but writing in their styles is not going to get me anyplace here in 2010. So I have to read books published this decade, this year, this month. It's vital.
That said, reading is important as an exercise. If you don't read, why bother writing? If you're not a reader, why would you do anything that would depend on people reading? Musicians listen to music. Painters go to museums to look at paintings. Writers need to read.
There, now, get yourself to a bookstore or library, pick up a book that was written in 2010, and read it! Better yet, you kindle kiddies, check out Dream in Color(click on the book cover above), or my friend Edie's book, Cattitude, which just hit Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Cattitude-ebook/dp/B0040ZN224/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1284731070&sr=8-1
Oh, and go forth and write!