All writers are readers. It is a fact. Not all readers are writers. Another fact. Some people truly love the written word, but have no interest in writing beyond the occasional card or email. As a writer you need to understand both points of view.
I was once told by an English teacher that I would "read anything that moves." While I'm still puzzling out exactly what that means, the concept behind the statement is undeniably accurate. I read everything I can get my meaty little hands on and while I prefer fiction, I'd read a cereal box if there was nothing else. Note the poll at the bottom of the page. There are others out there like me, people who will read whatever is in grabbing distance.
Here's why it's important to be a reader-- we all see the world through our own, first person point of view. In reading, you are given a glimpse of how someone else views the world, you have a model for comparing and contrasting your own take. This isn't about who's right, it's about what is. We all have our favorite authors, but did you ever stop to think why he/ she is on your keeper shelf?
This is going to come across as totally arrogant,(shocker I know, but hey, it's me;-) The author I relate to the most is Suzanne Brockmann. Everything the woman pens just clicks in my head and it has nothing to do with plot or characters. We just view the world in a very similar manner. I hope one day to see someone say the same thing about my work, that they just feel the stories as I do. To me, that would be the ultimate compliment.
There are others, too. Kristan Higgins, RITA award wining author of contemporary romance. Her heroines are quirky and she always includes canine antics. Though I've only been reading her work for a little over a year, I think I've read every novel she has out three or four times each. She is definitely an auto buy.
Check her out, here.
So be a reader first. Know what you like and what you want to write. Then see writing commandment #2!