Short answer: Yes. To improve and excel and even write your own book to a good standard, as authors you are going to have to read - the books don’t even have to be huge, but it’s extremely important that you are familiar with finished books to help you finish and assemble your own.
Literally speaking, you don’t have to be a big reader to be an author, but it sure would help!
If the potential to gain entertainment and inspiration aren’t enough to persuade you to read, here are some exclusive benefits of reading that can seriously improve your writing:
1) Learning from more experienced authors about structure, characterisation, etc.
For example, if you struggle with world building, reading The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S Lewis would be really beneficial.
Additionally, if you need help creating convincing and unique characters, you could read Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and gain inspiration.
These are only a few suggestions but when you begin to take time out to read, you familiarise yourself with the art of book writing and the different aspects involved in it.
2) You’re experimenting with genres and finding which ones you like best. This can help you to decide which genre your work fits into, therefore creating room for improvement as you discover your genre's expectations.
If your WIP (work in progress) falls under mystery, even if you don’t want to read, it’ll be extremely smart to read other mystery books to see what works and doesn’t work. This could be the difference between you using 1st or 3rd person to narrate or having an older or younger protagonist. Books are there for us to lean on and learn from so we don’t get stuck and they’re supposed to make our writing journey easier.
Furthermore, it’s very possible that when sending your query letter off to a literary agent, they will ask you which 3 books in the market are most like yours. If you have done no previous reading, especially within your genre, you might really struggle with this. So start reading!
3) In life you get back what you give. If you want to be read and loved by many, try and do the same. Allow yourself to enjoy novels and appreciate them the same way you’d want someone to enjoy and appreciate yours. This can lead to an increased level of fulfillment and joy towards your writing career because you know that somewhere out there, someone could be being inspired by your book, the way you’re inspired by someone else’s.
But you’ll never know how sweet it feels to fall in love with a book until you read one!
I’m not a big reader myself. However, ever since I decided that I want to pursue a writing career, I had to discipline myself to read as much as possible. If you’re in the same boat as me, here are some tips:
Read any book per month.
Take advantage of books assigned to read by school.
Even if you don’t like a book, just read it as writing homework and study all the literary techniques.
If you are extremely picky and only like books by 1 author, read books by that 1 author, then branch out later.
You could also reread books you’ve read in the past and see if you grasp anything new.
Read short stories and work by your peers. Your desire to support them will subconsciously lead you to reading more.
Read children’s fiction. I know this is a funny one, but if books intimidate you, starting with Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen won’t really help. Start simple and easy and grow as you progress.
Lastly, take advantage of every opportunity you have to read. Whether it be articles, newsletters, blogs or detailed reviews under an item on Amazon, all reading time is beneficial.