To guide you on the righteous reading path and find out what to look for along the way, you might want to start with the aptly named Francine Prose's book, Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and Those Who Want to Write Them, which was reviewed in this Sunday's New York Times Book Review .
Prose notes that one difficulty faced by writing teachers like me is the lack of interest many students show in reading. I agree. I think one of the best ways to improve your writing is to read...and pay attention to what you read...what works, what doesn't, how they do it.
Prose points out that writers have always learned from their predecessors: “They studied meter with Ovid, plot construction with Homer, comedy with Aristophanes.” In other words, says reviewer Emily Barton, it helps to read the masters: “You can assume that if a writer’s work has survived for centuries, there are reasons why this is so, explanations that have nothing to do with a conspiracy of academics plotting to resuscitate a zombie army of dead white males.”