Here is a simple truth: nothing prepares us better for reading than reading. Reading is a process not just of assimilating ideas but of learning the skills, the fundamental structures, and the repeated story lines that make further reading a richer, more enjoyable, and much more powerful experience. Countless authors through the ages have learned the craft of writing by reading the works of their predecessors, and in part their publications are commentaries on what they have read. But more to the point, each writer has felt an obligation to extend the tradition. Tradition in literature is not how a work becomes static over a period of time, but how it is constantly reinvented.
From Bruce Meyer, The Golden Thread: A Reader's Journey Through the Great Books (2000).