Yes. That’s the short answer. For many of us it’s necessary to our mental health.
And I’m not talking about research. It can be fun, seductive even, to follow a trail of informational breadcrumbs through the Net. But I’m talking about reading primarily for enjoyment. (I can’t say exclusively for enjoyment. I don’t think there’s a writer out there who doesn’t have some part of her brain muttering, “I would have done that differently,” or “Wow! That’s beautiful — I’ll have to try that sometime,” when they read.)
Sadly, I know more than one published author who says, “I don’t have time to read,” or “I don’t read [the genre they write] anymore.” I know one author who says he doesn’t read favorites anymore; he’s always looking to learn something new from what he reads.
Often authors avoid their own genre because they don’t want the voice of whatever they’re reading to bleed over into what they’re writing. But for others it’s because they’ve fallen out of love. They keep writing it because that’s where their career is: that’s what their publishers insist on. To change genre is to start from scratch. But it feels like staying in a loveless marriage.
Others stop reading because they just don’t have the time. Their deadlines don’t give them much down-time. They have other hobbies besides reading that fill their few off hours.
I read a lot of different things, both fiction and non-fiction, but it’s hard for me to imagine not reading what I love to write. I’ve become much pickier about the quality of what I read, since I started writing, but I still want to read in my genre. I learn a great deal from other writers, but mostly I read for the pleasure of it.
It’s about having fun.