I've been thinking about this for a little while and a crit partner brought up the topic, making me think even more.
It's what inspired me to pick up a pen in the first place.
Reading a really great book, sets my muse playing and lights a fire under my... well, you know.
I read a book differently now, yes. My current book--a romance, contemporary. No magic, no suspense. Just a story about two people, how they meet, fall in love and finally end up together. In one scene, the hero is with his immediate family for dinner. At the end of the scene, I asked myself, "What was the purpose of that scene?" There was a smidge of conflict--if you can really call a bitchy sister who holds a the heroine's mother's sins against the heroine conflict, which I didn't because the hero just blew her off. So what?
Here's the thing with romance. As a writer, we're told every scene, every dialogue...everything has to somehow affect the MCs, has to either bring them closer together or pull them a little bit apart.
Of course, I'm not sure I'm on that boat. This scene was good[entertaining] and it showed me the hero in a different light. How does he treat his mother? His sisters? How does he relate to his dad?
Did the story move forward? No. Might I mark a scene like that in a crit and question it's importance? I might... I just might.
Reading reminds me that stories can be told in a thousand different ways. It opens doors when I see deadbolts and helps me be sensitive [hopefully] to my crit partners. Well, that's me anyway. I can't imagine not reading.
Read! It's what's for funner. ;-) haha.