I read a great piece in The Atlantic that summarizes a year of writing advice from various writers. Viet Thanh Nguyen shares how he "found a novel with a narrative feel he wanted to emulate". He read a bit of it each morning and this is what happened:
The language itself had some kind of impact on me that was more emotional than intellectual. The book acted as a condensed, compact, extremely powerful substance that woke me up to what I needed to do, each day, as a writer. I thought of it as espresso. It wasn’t coffee—I couldn’t drink it all day long. I could only take small doses, and that was enough. With caffeine, how do you quantify what’s happening with that? You just know you need it. The process was mysterious, and it worked.
What a splendid way to describe reading for influence. I'm doing that right now with Safran Foer's Everything Is Illuminated.