Given that quite a few people who read this diary blog are either avid readers or themselves writers, I thought I’d ask a few questions about people’s reading habits and your views on the art and science of reading.
In my youth I was a voracious reader. In the middle part of the life I’ve lived so far, I used to read much less. Now I again find myself reading, but not as large a volume of material as I did while young. Some of the reading I’ve done is about reading, and it leads me to want to know what other readers (and writers who are also readers) think. So here goes:
1. Is there a definite volume of reading that is required for a good life? This partly relates to my knowledge that, if you’re going to play hold’em poker seriously, you need to do one hour of study and review for every four hours you play. Do you have to do an hour of reading for every hour you write? And if you don’t write, does a minimum amount of reading alter your consciousness and nourish other aspects of what you do?
2. Does it matter what you read? You probably already know, from having read my post on The Anatomy of a Serene Moment, that I believe the raw passage of time automatically provides us all the experience we need no matter what it is we actually do. Is the same true for reading, in the sense that it doesn’t matter what we read as long as we’re reading something?
3. Is there such a thing as meat and poison for readers? This applies also to readers who don’t write, but applies especially to writers. I’ve heard it said many times that each writer has a unique reaction to certain written works, with some nourishing her own writing, others stunting it or causing blocks, and yet others having no noticeable effect. Do you believe that to be true as a writer? And if you’re not a writer, do you find that certain writing nourishes your other activities, other reading has no effect, and yet other reading has a negative impact on it?
4. What is the ratio of the reading you do because you want to read something, to the reading you do because you are obligated to read something by work, school, or other obligations? How does this ratio affect your view of reading and your reading habits?
Thanks for all responses.