Every parent of teenagers knows that their most important formative influences come from their friends. You can only take your children so far; after that, it’s all down to a combination of luck and who they hang out with.
Writing is like that. Who and what you read matters. The good news is that all it takes to be able to cosy up to the greats and learn from them – even if they’re dead, even if they live on the far side of the world or on another planet – is a trip to the local library or your nearest bookshop.
Sometimes we get lazy, stay close to home, comfy in our safe little rut with the people we see every day, what we already have on our shelves. But it’s good to stretch a little, venture out to somewhere you’ve never been before, sample things you know will be good for you once you develop a taste for them. If you find it tough at first, stick with it. Reading something that challenges you is like taking your mind to the gym and giving it a workout – not a bad resolution for a New Year.