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Have You Met A Writer Who Doesn’t Read?

By 01/09/2012April 10th, 2018reading
Reading a book

I met a bunch of aspiring young writers yesterday, all keen to write a book.

The first question I asked them: How many books have you read in the last month?

To me, reading is crucial, I want to know how much a person reads before I decide if they’re wasting their time in a writing class.

13 of the students said None.
1 said Two
1 said Seven.

My own answer: Eleven.

Yes, I’ve been on a wheelchair this last month, and my social life consisted of my fish, my husband and my weekly household help– but the number of books I usually read in a week are seldom less than two, even when I have a full-fledged routine. Reading is part of who I am.

I mentioned this to the young writers, and they stared. Not surprisingly the only ones who came up with any writing in the hour I spent with them were the two readers.

Non-readers don’t write. According to me, it is that simple.

I’ve never met or heard of any writers who don’t like to read– have you?

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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • westcobich says:

    Yup, writers gotta read. But I find I have to set my writing time as opposed to my reading time or one becomes the excuse for not doing the other!

  • Damyanti says:

    I wish I could show all your comments to the young writers in question– they'd perhaps believe me more. Some of us naturally love books, others need to be introduced to them. I think reading to children and creating in them a love for books is the best gift parents can give their children.

    Thanks everyone for your comments. I'll be visiting you guys soon.

  • You can't write if you never read. And writers, obviously, have a love for the written word so how do these young "writers" not read at least one book a month? I work a full time job and still have managed to read about thirty books this year among tons and tons of other shorter works.

  • Donna Hole says:

    I met a few who wanted to join my ftf writers group. They lasted only a couple of sessions.

    I don't read as many books as I used to, but I plan to get back into it again. Great that you can read two a week – but I'm sorry you've been hurt. Hope you get well soon.


  • Jo says:

    I read about 100 books a year and hope to increase that number although I spend a lot of time blogging 6/7. I cannot understand people who don't read, let alone aspiring authors.

  • michelle says:

    You get lots of readers who are not very interested in writing. On the other hand, I've never heard of writers who do not read…

  • I can't conceive of why someone would want to write if they don't read – I mean, why are they interested in the first place? They don't even understand or enjoy the end product? I don't read nearly as much now as I used to – it's hard to fit reading and writing into my schedule – but when I first started writing I was reading about twenty five books a month. Even when I moved on to huge epic fantasy volumes I'd knock one over every two to three days.

    The closest I've ever come to a writer who didn't read is Sara Douglass, a late Australian fantasy author, who certainly read, but didn't read the genre she wrote! That is just as inconceivable to me as not reading at all.

  • I've met plenty of people who don't read and claim to be writers. Every single of one of them has been an awful writer, though.

  • I endorse your remarks about reading and writing. Writers must not only read, but their reading needs to cover a wide range of topics in fiction and non fiction. Reading will improve every aspect of their writing.

  • Reading is fuel for writing. Its hard to believe 13/15 didn't read.

  • cdreimer says:

    I've been *writing* too much this summer to be reading anything that wasn't my own stuff. Audiobooks, however, filled out the dead time at my non-writing job. I often listen to the same audiobook multiple times before moving on to the next one. When the writing tapers off, I'll be reading two books per week.

  • How can someone aspire to write a story unless he's first fallen in love with the written word? And the only way to sustain that love is to read, read, read.

  • I love to read but honestly between the kids, volunteering and working on my own writing, I don't have time lately. Once I sit down to read, I usually don't want to stop so sometimes I know I just can't start a new book or I won't get anything else done.

  • To be honest, I don't read as many as I should (or want to). I buy lots, and leave them by my bed to read, but at bedtime I'm usually too tired to read. I'm averaging about 3 a month at the moment. And now I feel bad… 🙂

  • To be a writer you must have the passion for books, and that comes from reading them.

  • John Chapman says:

    I have to admit I'm down on my reading this year. I've only read 48 fictional books and 8 non-fiction. That's an average of 8 a month. I've read innumerable samples and blogs though.

    Seems authors are probably an author's best market.

  • How can you write if you are not reading? I get some of my best ideas from reading, whether something I want to try my own spin on or something I want to avoid.

  • That most of them said none is really scary!