I enjoy reading, it’s probably my favourite solitary relaxing past time. I’m happier on the couch reading a book than watching random television.
Books are also a good place to pick up new vocabulary, there are phrases and words that I would never have heard of if it wasn’t for the books I read.
So, it stands to reason, that reading books in a language I’m learning is important. For vocabulary, but also just to ingrain correct grammar in your subconscious. It’s much easier to get a correct sentence out of your mouth if you’ve read a phrase so many times that it “sounds” natural, without you having to justify its correctness with rules you half remember.
When I started reading books in Spanish it helped my spoken Spanish a lot, it certainly helped make up for the language classes that I couldn’t afford at the time.
Of course, you have to start somewhere. My German is not as good as my Spanish was when I started reading, so I’m beginning with the children’s book Jim Knopf und Lukas der Lokomotivführer. Of course I’m reading it with a dictionary (or equivalent) next to me, but I hope that will improve.
The book was suggested to me by my thesis director, along with a few others of increasing complexity by the same author, Michael Ende. The last of the 4 books I’m planing on reading by him is The Neverending Story. The movie they made of this book was my favourite film as a child but I never read the book. I’m really exciting about getting up to a level where I’ll be able to read it (and in the original language as a bonus).