Over on Twitter (yes, I know, we're doomed already), Sarah Nicholas put forth what ought to be a commonplace opinion: if you want to be a writer, you should be reading current fiction.
Please I beg of you if you want to be a published author read one effing book published in the last 5 years. Just start with one. I'm BEGGING.— Sarah ★★★★★ Nicolas (@Sarah_Nicolas) February 5, 2020
That's not an outlandish idea. In fact, it's one I spend at least ten minutes of every writing workshop trying to get my newbie writers to understand. I can't tell you how many times I've had a writer who is trying to write a science fiction novel who has literally not read a single science fiction novel. Ditto for literary fiction (they haven't read a novel published in the last century), ditto for mystery novels, and so on.
You have to read -- and read a lot -- if you're going to write. And you have to read current books, things being written now. Mind you, I love Jane Austen and George Eliot as much as anyone. But what they're doing in their books and what (say) Ann Patchett or Naomi Kritzer is doing -- those are centuries apart.
I can't tell you how many science fiction recommendation threads I've been on where writers recommend nothing but books written in 1960 or before. As if Asimov or Heinlein were the sole source available. Sometimes they'll mention Le Guin as well -- rarely, but sometimes. Now mind you I like Le Guin and I've read everything Heinlein ever wrote. But come on. The field has moved on since then. If you don't know that, your writing is going to be...odd, to say the least.
And of course there are "writers" who don't want to read at all. Anything. They play video games or watch movies instead. Nothing wrong with video games, but they're giving you the background to write games, not books.
If you're going to write, (1) read a lot -- and feel free to read older books as well as the new stuff. But (2) you have to read the new stuff.
I mean, this is not a hot take. This is obvious stuff. You would expect, then, Sarah Nicholas's tweet to have attracted no attention what so ever, given it's a commonplace.
So much outrage!
Sexual harassment and death threats, obviously -- that's what she gets for being a woman on the internet -- but also comments such as, "Well I only read the classics," and "Don't tell me what you read, you SNOB," and "Well I won't compromise my vision to be trendy," and "that's creative bankruptcy," or "that's a corporatized mentality" and "But I want to create aaaart, not best sellers."
I mean, God save us.