At night, it's novel time. I read pretty much every night. I've been working my way through Bleak House lately, but it's been interrupted by Lao Tzu, The Hunger Games, and even some Roald Dahl.
As a reader, this is my essential reading. As a writer, I'm always wondering how people pick their essential reading. This is an important question, especially in an age when certain kinds of reading (novels, mainly) have been losing cultural relevance. This kind of sucks for those of us who write novels--no matter how we publish them, if at all--but there is an opportunity buried in this challenge somewhere. The writer who can figure out how to become essential reading is woven into the moment.
Obviously, there's no answer to this. It can't be planned. But what do you think? What makes a novelist essential?