... everybody says so when the topic comes up. "In order to be a writer you've gotta read lots of books." Though I hate being in agreement with the majority, I also believe it's essential and wish I had the ability to commit to it more.

What makes it so in your view? Can you site any specific instances where what you read directly helped your writing? Or is it more of a general feel of how to go about things that you pick up along the way without really being aware of it?

(apologies for my curiosity)