For many years I did not read fiction, since I was "too serious about life" - but you are talking about something else, huh?
These days I almost exclusively read fiction - have given up on being serious.
Nope, certainly not fantasy. I have never read a fantasy novel in my entire life, and I never will.
This is "historical fiction" - stories base on historical fact, such as towns, kings, political trends - but populated with heroes of my making.
I spent one year researching the historical era before starting to write. The mapping document for The Ship (which I wrote first) contained 30,000 words.