Just lately, however, that sense of simply being in the story has been missing. I was going to say that it's been taken away, but that would be a dirty, filthy lie, and I would agree that were I to perpetrate it, I'd deserve a damned good thrashing by the nuns (I'm told that there are websites promoting such things, if you're interested). Nope: it's missing, and I hope that it will return.
Where's it gone? Well if I knew that, it wouldn't be missing, would it? I don't know where it is, but I may have an idea about why it's buggered off (hopefully temporarily). What's happening in its place is a tendency for me to notice how things are written, and to immediately compare the skill of the writer (usually depressingly high) with my own - and we all know where my opinion of that sits right now.
Needless to say, there's a lot of tutting, grunting and harrumphing that goes on when I compare my own work with someone like Bill Bryson. My own shortcomings tend to be thrown into stark relief, but I hope that it's useful for me to notice other people's writing skills, in the same way that I noticed how my dad used to drive the car: it's part of my learning style, and I need to learn and develop. Sometimes it can be a little painful, though.
Being aware of why I'm enjoying a piece of work is important, but it does tend to take the shine off the reading experience. Perhaps all people who write experience this - I don't know - but there are times when I do long to simply read something and forget about my own projects and struggles with the craft.