"No. Not really."
"It--well, it helps, you know? Read a lot and you can decide what kind of genre you like to write in, what kind of form you'd like to use--"
"Genre, that's like, science fiction, isn't it?"
"No. There's lots of genres. It's different kinds of writing and different forms. It's not just science fiction--if anyone tells you that, they're probably a science fiction author. They say the genre to mean their work all the time. That's why the world despises them."
"You should read. It's important to read, and read widely."
You might think it strange, but over half the people I run into while teaching don't read. It's school that does it, of course: the endless boring, banal books that they're required to chop up, decipher, and add meaning to while being instructed by dull, barely educated men and women doesn't exactly inspire many people with a desire to read. In fact, on my more cynical days, I tend to think that, firstly, High School is just a manifestation of society as a whole, and that what you are forced to digest is what society wants to raise you upon so that you're sedated intellectually, and secondly, that if you get out of High School with a desire to read, then you must have known that there were more interesting books out there than the ones you were fed, and that you should thank whoever or however you found that. For it is through them that you must have realised that every bit of roughness, every morally grey moment, every thing in a piece of literature that might make you feel something good or bad has been removed by your educators, your parents, your politicians, and by everyone who is currently making your world, and that they have purposefully shaved back to such a point that you are being given the literature equivalent of Novocaine from six to eighteen.
But that's just on my cynical days.