For many years, I tried to only read what I then defined as "good books" meaning mostly classics, very little contemporary and very "high brow" if you will. If the author wasn't dead, it probably wasn't worth my time. After all, I have an English degree, therefore if I was ever seen reading something that wasn't "English degree material," I thought people would think that I wasn't smart, didn't really deserve the degree I had, etc.
I think that one of the best things that happened when I started teaching was that I started reading what I could recommend to my students to read. Let's be honest, high schoolers, for the most part, aren't interested in Milton's Paradise Lost, most Shakespeare plays, Dickens, Chaucer, Hemingway, etc. So I decided after I had several students ask me for recommendations of good books, that I needed to spend some time reading what I could recommend to them.
I have never made a better decision in my life.
Because of this little self-challenge, I have had the opportunity to experience Stephenie Meyer, Philip Pullman, Laurie Halse Anderson, Ally Condie, Alice Sebold, and just a portion of Shannon Hale. It is so much fun to sit down and just read a good book, because I want to read a good book. This is something that Hale elaborates on here which is what really got me thinking, and then she talks more about it here, this one is more from the writer's perspective.
If you have time, you should read them. I think you will find the discussion very enlightening.
In the meantime - thank you Shannon Hale, for hosting such great discussions.