If you want to be a writer, a regular piece of advice is to read, and to read regularly. To read good stuff and to read bad stuff. But mostly, to notice the difference. And to figure out why they're different, so that you can do it right, rather than wrong.
But both pastimes take up time and when time is one of those things that you have in short supply, how do you find a suitable balance? Do you just read the good stuff? Or do you need to read enjoyable tosh too? I think you do ... need to read enjoyable tosh that is. For a number of reasons: 1) because you might find that it's your genre, your ouevre, and you could make a good living at it, or 2) it's fun, it allows you to rest, to regenerate, to relax - somewhat like TV pap, or 3) because it clears the palate, it allows you to focus, to give concentration to something meaty. I've read the Man Booker short and long lists in concerted chunks before and it can wear you down, even when you absolutely love what you're reading.
So, just read, as often as you can, and as much as you can. During April's blogging challenge, I've been writing little bits of fiction. In the months of March and April whilst I've been writing my blog and reading other participants' blogs, I've read 11 books. I'm pleasantly surprised by that number, as I've felt it's not been many. One was very short, four have been either really funny or just plain fun to read, one was non-fiction, one was simply lovely, one had meaty read written all over it but ended up being hard work, one took me back to India, three were authors I've read before, one is an indie, two had interesting ideas disappointedly realised, and four rated four stars (out of five). A real mixed bag. Apart from such a high proportion of books rated over three stars, pretty much average, and yet I'm five books behind schedule according to Goodreads. I don't remember being behind schedule this early in the year before. But it's not a goal, only a target, and one that doesn't really matter a damn. After all, so long as I'm learning and enjoying it ... the number really doesn't matter.
But because I may be an indie author someday, I'm going to pick just one of the eleven books to give a shout-out to, that written by Isa-Lee Wolf. Oh, and her books also fall into the really-funny-or-just-plain-fun-to-read and four-star-rated categories. She also wrote a great short story on Fiction Can Be Fun if you'd like a freebie to tempt you into the water!
How's your reading coming along? Especially if you've been A to Z-ing during April?