There are also many different levels of how critically each individual person will read their chosen books. Do you like just about everything you read? Do you only like most of it? Do you hardly ever enjoy yourself?
The thing I'm curious about today is....can how critically we read these books affect our writing, either negatively or positively?
I often wonder if it's possible to become so caught up in critical discussions and reading methods that you end up shying away from certain elements in your own writing that you otherwise would have dived right into, causing you to seriously hold back. A couple of writer friends mentioned to me the other day that they really feel like they can tell if the author truly enjoyed herself/himself while writing the particular book.
That passion can really add a magical "it factor" touch to any story. But if you're afraid to dive into certain elements because you know in the back of your head that the YA community is currently analyzing it into oblivion, some of that magic could become smothered.
On the other hand, being fully and completely aware of what layers make up a novel, and which types make you weary, frustrated, or annoyed with the author, can help you avoid making the same mistake on your own WIP. You can use the way you read critically to improve yourself, and books naturally sort of become a mass studying session with a story on the side as opposed to the other way around. Avoiding certain pit falls that routinely gain criticism, from certain types of characters to overdone settings or premises, can really give you a sense of relief and confidence to finish whatever you're working on.
I'm sure this varies from person to person, depending on personal life factors or philosophies that will strongly negate how you feel about certain books, as well as your general experience while reading them.
I'd love to see what you guys have to say on this. Do you think in-depth critical reading is valuable? Do you think it holds you back in any way, good or bad? Is it even something you can control at all?