What should writers read?

Stephen King wrote, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.  Simple as that.” And what writer these days could argue with Stephen King? Who would want to? We have two questions for you: What does a writer read?  And…What should a writer read?

The short answer to the first question is that writers, like everyone else, read whatever they want to read. The answer to the second question – what should a writer read – might surprise you.

Perhaps you think that writers should read about writing. Or you believe that they should read books in their specialty area (for example if you’re a creative nonfiction writer, you should read creative nonfiction; if you’re an historical novelist, you should read historical novels; if you’re a women’s lit writer, that’s what you should read and so on).  Of course, it’s important for you to read the kind of literature that you write. In fact, it’s probably more important the other way around: you should probably write what you like to read.  So, it’s likely that you will read all of this anyway.But in this neck of the woods, we believe that it’s only part of what you should read.

A writer should cross-read. In fact, most highly successful authors are voracious readers whose selections come from a wide variety of areas. They read fiction in genres in which they don’t write, and they also read a wide variety of nonfiction from memoir to prescriptive nonfiction. There is much to be learned about the world in general and about writing in particular from reading what others have written. The only caveat here is that writers should read well-written prose regardless of its content.

Of course, if you are a less experienced writer, you’ll want to read (and own) a variety of high-quality reference books. We have our favourites which we share with you if you have two minutes to watch a video…

And remember…if you do not read, you should not write. Now that we have that out of the way, here’s our list…