Another question today – does reading a lot make you a good writer?

One of Jennifer Weiner’s tips for writers is to read – anything and everything.

My father read avidly.  He was partially deaf.  This made conversation difficult and if he wanted to watch television we had to turn the volume up to brain numbing levels.  He didn’t need his ears to read and could immerse himself in a book with a riot going on around him.  My enduring image of him (he died back in 1977) is sat in his chair puffing on a pipe and reading a book .

When I was about seven years old we moved next door to our local town library.  I spent so much time in there, the librarian was thinking of adopting me!  In my school holidays I  borrowed books every day and laid on my bed for hours reading – I was a solitary but not lonely child.

Unfortunately I can’t remember many of the books I read – some Arthur Ransome novels, Doctor DolittleThe Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe and a lot of Enid Blyton all spring to mind.  I absolutely adored Ruby Ferguson’s Jill books – a series of nine books about a  young girl and her ponies.

In my teens I moved on to science fiction and historical novels.  I also developed a passion for Thomas Hardy after reading Far from the Madding Crowd for my O’ level.

As an adult I used to joke that I never read anything unless there was a murder, or preferably two, in the first 50 pages.  I can recognise a good crime novel by its cover.  Detectives, Lawyers, forensic scientists, medical examiners – I’ve followed them all through the most gruesome crimes imaginable. 

A few years ago someone lent me a copy of  Bridget Jones’s Diary.  This was my first taste of chick lit.  In my mid forties at the time and happily married I didn’t think the exploits of a thirty something singleton would engage me but it was entertaining enough. 

I have read more chick lit since but the transition, from chasing murderers, to immersing myself in the everyday comings and goings of Miss-middle-class-living-in-the-home-counties has not been easy.

Nowadays I flit around between genres.  At the moment I am reading  American Wife  by Curtis Sittenfeld.

So is all this reading going to make me a good novelist? 


Who is the man in the park?