Life is short. Read a lot, and read the stuff that you want to read.
There are many people who believe that there are certain pieces of literature that everyone should read. War and Peace. Moby Dick. Wuthering Heights. This is not a post saying you should not read those things. This is a post saying that if you like Russian aristocracy, whaling and doomed romances, then read those things.
For everyone else, there’s The Hobbit. Or Wicked. Or Charlotte’s Web.
Read the stuff that you want your writing to be. Devour books that make you walk with the characters, breathe them in, feel with them. Find books that feel good clutched to your chest, that fit into the nook of your breathless lungs. Trade books. Share books. Give books as gifts.
Question recommendations. Nicely, though. Don’t be a jerk. I’ve had about four people tell me to read Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. “It’s the new Great American Novel,” they’ve said. I might read it. I might not. So far nothing I’ve been told has made me think that it sounds better than many slice-of-life books I’ve read.
Books are the delicious foods we want to cook but enjoy when given the opportunity. Sometimes they are short, so very satisfying. Sometimes they seem to go on forever. Sometimes once you’re done, you regret it a little.
And there’s nothing wrong with sending back a plate or not finishing your meal.
Life’s too short. Read a lot, and don’t waste reading time on shit.