I've discovered I read differently now I'm writing. Once I would simply open a book and read. Now I open a book and analyze.
I pay attention to the beginning: Is the first sentence dialogue? Is it throwing me right into the middle of the action? Or is it what I term a 'soft' beginning where I'm introduced to the characters and start to learn about their particular quirks?
I take note of dialogue: How is it written? How many dialogue tags are there and what are they? Does the author use 'said' or 'says' or are many characters hissing and whispering? Can I easily discern which character is talking and if I can, why can I? Is it vocabulary choices? Different rhythms?
Descriptive passages get my attention as well; what vocabulary is being used? Can I easily imagine the setting? How often are other senses invoked other than sight? I relish books that allow me to smell the cooking or feel the pinch of a new pair of shoes. How much time is spent describing the settings is also interesting. If I'm reading a book that bounces from place to place then I want a description of each location so when the story returns there I know where we are. If the book takes place in one location then let me know the layout, especially if it's a mystery.
POVs also capture my interest. How many are there? Is one character more dominant than the others? Is there one character that seems particularly quiet and if there is, why is that? I've read several books where the protagonist is written in the first person and the rest of the POV characters are written in the third.
Lastly, I look at the thickness of the book and take a moment to appreciate how long it took the author to actually write the sucker. I just finished a book with a page count of over 1,4oo. My brain fries at the time it must have taken to write. I happen to know that this particular author had the cover of the book design delivered while the book was still being written upstairs on her computer. Can you imagine the horror? Obviously, she finished it by her deadline, but that must have been a chilling moment.
I still can get swept away by a great story, but part of my mind is analyzing why I'm getting swept away. I pay attention to the plot's pace. Does it begin with a flurry and then slow to a snail's pace? Is the ending rushed? I read a book this week with a rushed ending and my first thought was "Ah, the deadline approacheth..."
Do you read books differently now? I look at every book and think "What can I learn from this?" How about you?