I’ve noticed a pattern.
I read fantastic books, and afterwards, my writing is fantastic. I read mediocre books; my writing becomes mediocre (at best). My voice and style aren’t really affected, but my sentence structure and general thought processes are dumbed down by exposure to weak writing. I find this all a bit disconcerting, so I’m going to read fantastic books until I finish my first draft.
My question: What’s the latest fantastic book (or essay, short story, whatever) you’ve read?