It’s a truism, especially among fiction writers, that you should read what you want to write. A lot of it. That’s the only way to understand the tropes common to that particular field of writing. But I think it’s really not that common for people to start writing a book in a genre, or sub-genre they don’t already love. Most of the time, I think folks have been reading a particular kind of book for quite some time before they get their courage up to give it a go themselves.
So you love romance, or science-fiction, or westerns, or mysteries and you decide to write your own. Sometimes it’s because you read a book that wasn’t so great and you said to yourself, “I can do better than that.” Sometimes it’s just because you have stories of your own that you want to share. You write regularly, you read how-to articles in magazines, and you join a critique group so you can learn your craft. And you do. You learn what works and what doesn’t. You learn the rules and when to break them. And you keep reading because you love the genre.
And you find that far fewer of the books you used to devour are as satisfying as they used to be. Now there’s an editor in your head reading over your shoulder, whispering, “I would have done that differently.” “I would have written that scene from the other character’s point-of-view.” “The author should have expanded that scene (or made it shorter).” “Too many flashbacks.” “Info-dump.” That voice, that awareness, seldom remains silent. It will never let you read the same way again.
But that’s not a bad thing. Because you’re now reading like a writer, you’ll become more selective, and you’ll be learning from the best. The voice will also be saying, “Wow, that’s cool! How did the author do that? Can I apply that to my book?” And when you stumble upon a book that is so good that your internal editor forgets to comment, savor the experience.
Then buy another copy and read that book over and over until the covers fall off and you understand what worked.