I love themed reading. Themed reading helps me to get a sense of things like an author's collective works, a genre and its sub-genres, or a style of writing. It is informative in a way that dipping in and out of that theme is not.
For instance, reading the collective works of Louise Erdrich lets me see her growth and change as a writer. Reading mysteries written in different eras helps me understand how these tales have both changed and remained the same over time. Delving into works of magical realism written by authors from a variety of countries allows me to understand how this style is handled in different cultures.
I can develop the bigger picture while looking at specifics when reading by theme.
Themed reading can also burn me out. Too much Erdrich in one gulp can leave me dreading "yet more Erdrich." So, sometimes I need an interlude.
Right now I'm getting a little bit weary of mysteries, even though I love them. So I will be taking a side trip to read something that sounds a bit exotic ... a bit historical ... and quite enchanting. The Palace of Tears by Alev Lytle Croutier caught my eye as I was browsing shelves at a used bookshop in Colorado last Spring. The description reminded me a bit of Silk by Alessandro Baricco (my thoughts on that book here). Croutier was born in Turkey, studied in Istanbul (among other places), and divides her time between San Francisco and Paris. You can read more about the author here.
So I shall take a little interlude for the next bit of time. If you're looking for me, you can find me in The Palace of Tears.