Like, when you finish reading an amazingly brilliant novel that has won lots and lots of awards, you can't just think to yourself: "Wow, that was a fantastic book." Instead, you think to yourself: "Why can't I be that brilliant? How do they manage this brilliance? Can I steal this writer's brain? Did this writer make a deal with the devil? Can I make a similar deal? What is the secret? I will never be this great, might as well give up now!"
Or, when you finish reading an amazingly terrible novel that has sold lots and lots of copies, you can't just think to yourself: "Wow, wasted three hours of my life there." Instead, you think to yourself: "How come I can't write books that sell seventy billion copies? They don't seem that complicated! What's the secret? Why am I so bad at cliff-hangers? I will never sell this well, might as well give up now!"
It's just demoralising, frankly. The answer, of course, is to always read books that you think are perfectly average, with perfectly average sales, and with a perfectly average number of fans, and then you don't feel bad for not being brilliant or for not selling well enough or for not being universally adored. Which makes no sense whatsoever because what's the point of reading if it isn't finding stories you love?
Hopefully I am not the only one who unnecessarily does this "I wish I was a literary genius" bit every time I read a good book. If you have advice for those attempting to read while being a writer (how could I not! I'd rather not be reduced to reading textbooks and cereal boxes), do share.