Reading has somewhat gone out of vogue nowadays as more and more people spend their time in other, quicker pastimes, such as watching movies and playing video games; reading good books seems to have lost even more charm. The classics are still revered as classics, but few people dare to open one. Biographies and histories are considered pretty dull things. Theology, philosophy, sermon-collections, and the like seem to be the most disliked of all categories, even among believers. If people do read, they generally turn to the action-packed, romance-stuffed, gore-filled, often plotless novels produced in mass quantities today.
This is unfortunately true of many writers, as well. Reading is not considered necessary for someone to be able to write. However, what you read, and if you read at all, will color your writing - for good or ill. If you want to write, it is important to read, and to read extensively. Just as some people don't read at all and other people read only the latest vampire novel, others lock themselves into a certain category - be it Christian fiction, mystery, romance, or any other genre - and read very little outside this appointed comfort zone. However, this is almost as bad as not reading at all; your writing (and your whole outlook on life) will be so affected by this one genre that it is likely that there will be little originality and little of yourself in your work.
Just like with any diet, reading demands variety. While I'll never recommend reading a trashy novel for the sake of "something new" (that's kind of like eating a tub of lard for the same reason), there are plenty of novels that are not specifically Christian, yet are clean, inspiring, and thought-provoking; take many of the classics, for instance. A good dose of nonfiction can not only be very enjoyable, but will also enlighten you and make you think - and, too, histories can easily inspire a story in undeveloped territory. A knowledge of history, as a whole and in detail, will give your stories depth. Something more than a glancing acquaintance with the writing styles of "the Great Ones" will help your own writing progress.
What are you reading? What are some of your favorite books?