I know a lot of people think 'everyone should read'. It's tempting to think – I love reading, and want to share things I love. But I know a lot of people dislike reading for fun, and read as little as possible when they have to. I'm not sure I know their minds better than they do, which means we need better advice: how do we figure out how much we should be reading?

I think, if you're the type of person who says "I should read more", then maybe you should. Certainly a good amount of reading will help you determine if that's a way you want to spend your leisure time. I'd like to recommend textbooks over pop-science, for obvious reasons, and genre fiction over literary fiction (for good reasons I'm not going to explain). But if you think you ought to, I recommend doing so – at the very least, you'll remember you're actually the type of person who dreads reading and will find other ways to distract themselves.

If you consider yourself a writer, I think it's important that you read as well, ideally in the same format you write in. I read a lot, but I get quite a bit of long-form fiction in. Perhaps I should change what I write to better reflect that.

But the question is: how much should I read, compared to how much I write? When I think of excellent writers, I'd probably be comfortable with them reading the same amount they write, if they're crunched for time. I'm not as good, so I should probably read at least five times more than I write (on a time-basis, not word-count). That way I can spend most of my time with great writing, and over time, maybe I'll converge to that quality.

But what if you just want to be generally knowledgeable? That was my ambition, before I decided to also write. And this one is a bit tricky, but I'd say the really important variable is how discerning you can be. Read every day, and just keep cutting out lower and lower quality stuff (measured in non-fiction's dishonesty, for instance – twenty bad ideas are a good price to pay for a good one, and we all need practice telling the difference).

Ideally, you'd have a bunch of different sources of ideas, all thinking about things in a different way, giving you the mental tools to approach a topic from a new angle, as efficiently as possible. I humbly submit that this blog could be a very nutritious part of such a media diet, but honestly, there are loads of different high-quality short-form blogs. Find ones that are better than you could write, talking about things that are important to you. You'd be surprised how much regular exposure can rub off on you.