I always like to read about what other people are reading. For example, No Depression has a piece about the books and authors that have influenced some Americana musicians (The Books of My Life). For Jeff Hanna (of The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), for example, it's James Lee Burke and Lee Smith. For Mary Chapin Carpenter, Elizabeth Strout.
Me, I'm still reading Westerns almost exclusively. I've compiled a long list of Western novels that have won major awards and another of likely authors to investigate. This list may keep me busy for a quite some time. The author that got me started on this trend is Elmer Kelton, whose books I discovered simply by perusing the shelves of my local public library (an invaluable practice). I may wind up reading everything I can by Mr Kelton. His books have heart and soul and he clearly loves and admires the men and women that he writes about. The Pumpkin Rollers (1996) is my current read.
I used to ask people routinely, read any good books lately? So, for example, meeting people at church and engaging in the usual casual conversation, I would insert this innocent question. What I have discovered though is that for people that don't necessarily read much, this can be an embarrassing question. They don't necessarily want to admit they haven't read anything at all in quite some time, so they will often hark back to a book they read years ago, back in high school maybe. No, they say, I don't get much time to read these days, but have you ever read To Kill a Mockingbird?
So it's not necessarily a good question to spring on just anyone. It works among librarians, writers, and songwriters clearly. Which takes us back to the No Depression article. I'm going to check into some of those authors.