When I started seriously researching my current project, I shifted from reading all fiction, all the time, to reading nothing but non-fiction. I’ve realized recently just how much this has been hurting me as a writer. I’ve lost a lot of the rhythm of the kind of prose I’m trying to write.
Aside from the fact that I had a lot to learn about history and the way people have lived over time, I stopped reading fiction because it was getting harder and harder to find books that were up to my rising standards. Up until early high school, I was satisfied with Star Wars novels, of which there seems to be an endless supply. Unfortunately, as I’ve become more critical as a reader over the years, I’ve found myself enjoying even the best of them less and less (and it doesn’t help that their quality started declining after Vision of the Future.). I’ve become more aware of glaring flaws in a great deal of SF and fantasy in general, too.
I’d turn to traditional literature, but I find most of it boring as hell. I like Oedipus Rex and Antigone, at least in the translation by Dudley Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald. I like Shakespeare in performance. Middlemarch was tolerable, though I didn’t finish it. I just didn’t get any emotional resonance out of Beowulf, and The Awakening was interesting from an academic point of view but boring in terms of story. These day, I find myself going back to two series: Dan Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos and George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. Unfortunately, Dan Simmons has turned into a nut-job Islamophobe since writing the Cantos, and George RR Martin is not a book-a-year kind of guy. Thus, I find myself at a loss.