Okay, let me explain myself properly: Even though I myself am just a novice writer, friends who want to get into fiction writing occasionally ask me how to get into writing and similar questions. One such case occurred recently, when someone asked me what they should read to build their "feel" for language. He had read a bunch of books from all different eras - from Hemingway to Robert Stone (Flag for Sunrise is recommended in some writing guide), but came out discouraged and confused. He admitted that he didn't get what made them great in the first place and that, because many texts bored him, he would never get to that level. He thought he was missing something important. At first, my answer was going to be simple: Find the big names of the genre you like, and read them. There are more legends than just the old-fashioned classics. Find your genre, and fan out from there... And then it occurred to me: reading the classics is fine and well for your cultural education - but as a beginning writer, it's poison. You will quickly start thinking that a) this is the only way you are supposed to write (who are you to argue with Hemingway?!), and b) that your writing is absolutely inadequate. In fact, however, you feel that because you write what you want to read, and let's face it - while most of us can appreciate the wordcraft and artistic value of the classics, we also know that they are not "entertaining"/"fun" to our modern sensibilities in a conventional way. So here is what I said instead: Read what is "fun" to you, even if it's flawed fiction. Read what other novice writers wrote, because when you're starting out, the one thing that you need to keep going if nothing else is the though that you CAN do better than others. Read self-published stuff, read garbage, but only if you are passionate about the subject. Read things that lack in execution. You can do better, that's the key. So far, it appears that this has basically cut the knot. We now have long conversations about his first book, which always include rants about how some author he read messed up a potentially great scene by using the wrong point of view, or how some words are just misused way too often, or how something was boring to read although it showed promise. He has also gotten better at critiquing my work as well as taking criticism on his own - sure, his Kindle is now cluttered with eBooks that are not exactly the greatest masters of literature, but here's the thing: As far as the "masters of literature" are concerned: we only read their over-and-over-edited masterpieces, rarely their first steps. But as a beginning writer, you need to relate somehow to what you read, to how it was created. It's better to see that other works are flawed as well, and feel that you can recognize these flaws, rather than trying to imitate an all-time classic. But that's just my take on it. What do you think?