Scanning the blogs of my fellow OGG-ers makes me feel hopelessly prosaic, even unsophisticated. Lisabet loves Winter's Tale, a book I found memorable for its lyrical prose but completely incomprehensible. I learned what it was about from the movie. Someone (Giselle?) here wrote she is into Canadian literary fiction. If that includes Margaret Atwood, I guess I'm there occasionally, but not often.
Authors are often advised, "read in your genre," especially when we're starting out, in order to familiarize ourselves with the norms of the genre or subgenre. So when I decided to write romance I started to read romance. I chose to write romance fiction not because I loved it but because it hogs the biggest share of the fiction market.
The only romances I had read before were by Georgette Heyer, and Regency romance remains my favorite reading. I don't write it often, however, which is super-stupid--they sell really well. My one Regency novel, Lord Devere's Ward, is one of my consistently bestselling books. And my Regency satire, The Romantical Groom, actually hit #1 in the Amazon "free parody" category.
I agree with the comments of the other OGG bloggers about the uneven nature of genre fiction. It's a very hit-or-miss thing. As I've become more aware of good writing craft, I've become a pickier reader.
I've read most of the books by my critique partner, Diane Farr, a Regency author. She shares my focus on craft so I love her work, which is also clever and funny. But I'm coming to the end of the line on her books (sob, sob). So I was delighted to find that Courtney Milan is also really, really good.
Another subgenre I love is Young Adult paranormal--think Harry Potter and the Hunger Games. Now that I've seen all the Hunger Games movies, I'll probably reread the series--I was happy to have forgotten them (mostly) when I saw the films. Anyone knows that reading the book before seeing the movie made form it is fatal to enjoying the movie. One is always muttering to oneself (and disturbing others movie patrons) "Oh, they really screwed that up," or "Why'd they leave out that part?"
Right now I'm immersed in Julie Kagawa's books about the Iron Fey.
Most books about the Fey focus on the conflict between the Seelie and Unseelie (or Summer and Winter Courts). The books by Melissa Marr are well-written and typical. Kagawa posits another group of supernatural beings, the Iron Fey, born of our technological advances.
Kagawa's books are both imaginative and well-written, if a bit repetitive. Destroying the threat that the Iron Fey pose to Faerie is the constant theme, and the "hide then fight" plot, when read over and over, gets old. But in the main, I enjoy immersing myself in the world Kagawa skillfully created.
My guess is that I love to read about alternate realities because I read to escape. Both Regency romance and YA paranormal are escapist fiction.
When I was transiting from practicing as a trial lawyer and into writing, people (editors and agents) tried to push me toward writing legal thrillers. To do so I'd have to read legal thrillers. Step back into the cage when I prefer to escape into another world?
No, thank you.