Susan, at Spinning, posed this question to writers, in her post on Reading & Writing, after she answered it on another blog. It’s a writing question on the surface only. It can apply to a lot of things people do, mostly creative. It only starts out in a context of writing. I suppose it has a lot to do with our ability to multi-task. I guess I tend to have more of a one-track mind.
When I’m writing fiction, I tend to read mostly nonfiction, often research related to what I’m writing, or a good book on writing, creativity, or personal growth. Anything that helps understand people and their motivations better is helpful to fiction writers, as well as anything that improves our story building skills and instincts—which isn’t necessarily limited to books on writing. I don’t go for the type of self-help books that offer quick fixes to personal problems. I classify most of those with fad diet books. But I’m drawn to books that help me understand human nature and the human experience on a deeper level.