Reading is important to me, it inspires and informs my own writing.
As a reader, I find myself oscillating between the extremes of despair (I couldn't possibly write anything as good, so what's the point?) and derision (I could easily write crap like this but what's the point?). I get jealous that other peoples' writing can be so coruscatingly brilliant. I also get frustrated that the routine and pedestrian commands a wide readership.
Writing allows me to take more from reading. I have a better appreciation of the sheer hard work involved and the ways in which my attention is held.
So which writers inspire me most? I'd say these three:
Unique, insightful, poignant and very humourous. I love him, have loved him for forty years, have read just about everything he wrote apart from the end of 'Timequake' which I couldn't finish in case it turned out to be his last and I had nothing more of him left to read.
If you have the extreme good fortune never to have read him then rejoice, you have a treat in store. Start with Cats Cradle, that's my advice, you'll never look back.
Wonderful descriptive prose, beautifully crafted plots and compelling characterisation. My favourite opening paragraph of all time begins The Big Sleep. Start there if you haven't already.
Dylan can tell a story with a handful of words, set a scene with a single phrase, convey feelings and powerful images with such economy that I am left breathless. Listen to Desolation Row.