July 13, 2014

Reading Habits

I love to hear about people's reading habits. You know, where they get books, where they read them, when they read them, how they read them, and what they do while they read them. Since I assume all of you are equally fascinated by these things, I will share some of my reading habits with you.

Where do you get books? - I work in a library, so a large portion of what I read comes from there. Also, we have a book sale cart in my branch from which I frequently acquire books on the cheap. There is a wonderful little used bookstore in my suburb I like to support. They sell new books at a discount and tons of good used books. I have recently discovered Book Outlet (www.bookoutlet.com) that has new and scratch and dent copies for deeply discounted prices. I also go to Barnes and Noble to relax when my life is spiralling out of control. This takes effort because our Barnes and Noble is located in an area of town I lovingly refer to as "the ninth circle of hell". I'm not buying books from Amazon right now, because they are trying to shoot themselves in the foot with these Hachette shenanigans.

Where do you read? - Mostly I read in my bed, but this is not ideal. I would rather read in my comfy reading chair in the living room, but my dog thinks my sitting in that chair means cuddle time. My dog weighs 70+ pounds so cuddle time is not conducive to reading. Reading in my bed is uncomfortable. The pillows have to be just right to support my head and neck so I can see the book. Then, my arms fall asleep so I roll over on my side and then I fall asleep. Or I get cold, so I pull up the covers. But I can't pull the covers up over my chilly arms because then I can't see the book. It's a conundrum.
Sometimes I read at the kitchen table so the dog doesn't get between me and the book, but the chairs are hard and uncomfortable, so it doesn't last long. I often wish I was one of those people who likes reading outdoors. Last summer I read a lot at the pool, but my complexion is somewhere between "pale" and "Edward Cullen" so I have to wear a lot of sunscreen. This isn't good for the book. Also, bugs.

When do you read? - Anytime. I read whenever I can sneak it in. I try to always have a book. Actually, last week, I took my kids to the dentist and I forgot to take a book. Even my kids were shocked. Luckily, the appointment was only 20 minutes long, so I wasn't miserable for long. I have tried reading while walking for exercise, but I am way too accident prone for that. I have a glider walker machine thingy, and I can read while I use that. It's the best way to exercise and get some pages in at the same time. I always always read before falling asleep at night, that way I can get at least a few pages in each day.

Do you read one book at a time, or multi-book? - I used to be a one book at a time kind of gal, but for the last couple of years, I've been reading more than one at a time, or multi-booking. Usually this works out okay because I can find something I want to read among the several that I have going. Usually, one of the books on the go is a book club book. I tend to read these very slowly. I parcel out the number of pages I have to read each day to finish it in time for the meeting. I also try to have an audio book going in the car. You would be surprised how many more books you can get read in a year just by listening for a few minutes on the way to work. Sometimes I have a book I read at night because it is guaranteed to put me to sleep. And I might have one or two "just for fun" books going to fill in the gaps.

Bookmark or dogear? Oh heavens! I never dog ear. I've seen so many books at the library that have had dog eared pages and when the pages yellow, that part just falls right off! Plus, when would I ever get to use my giant collection of fabulous bookmarks? I like to match the picture on the bookmark to the tone of the book I'm reading.

Do you eat while you read? - Sometimes. I do put a book on the table if I'm eating alone. And sometimes a big bowl of popcorn makes reading time cozier. But only when the dog is in her crate. I don't like to share.

In related news, I also read in the bath. I know, I know. I've never lost a book in the bath.

Do you skip ahead, or read the end first? - No, I don't. I don't have anything against skipping ahead, I just never think of it at the time. I will flip the pages ahead to see how long to a chapter break, but I don't read any of the words.

Do you stop reading a book you don't like, or force yourself to finish every book you start? - I have only recently allowed myself to stop reading a book I don't like. I feel that that is a rite of passage into adulthood. The books I read are no longer assignments. I will not be tested on them. Life is too short to read books that are awful. One caveat, I usually try to finish book club books. In ten years of book clubbing, I've only ever not finished 2 books. One had too many triggers for me, and freaked me out too badly, and the other was just bad. Nancy Pearl suggests giving a book 50 pages to decide if it's worth the effort. Sometimes I don't even read that many.

Do you get distracted while reading? - More now than in the past. I have a puppy who wants attention. I have kids who want to eat and stuff. I have stuff that needs doing, and if I'm sitting around reading a book, it calls to me and I feel guilty. I miss those younger days when nobody needed me and I still believed someone else would do the things that need doing, but if the conditions are perfect, I can still fall into a book for hours at a time.

Where do you get book recommendations? - Goodreads a lot of the time. Also, I get the NYT Book Review weekly, so that tells me what's new and hip. I get Bookmarks magazine (thanks, Edis) which summarizes reviews from many sources. It also has interesting articles on many authors and types of books. I have recently discovered Booktube, a section of Youtube in which people review books, show what books they've bought and/or read, and just generally talk passionately about books. Most Booktubers are in the teens and twenties so most of what they talk about is YA fiction. I read some YA so that's okay, and it helps me keep up with what's popular with the kids these days. This came in handy yesterday at work when a girl wanted to know what she should read in YA Paranormal fiction. I made a list.

What are your favorite kinds of books? - It's probably easier to say what I don't like. I'm not much into "issues" books. Well, maybe if they're well done. I liked White Oleander by Janet Fitch, which is about a teen in the foster care system. But most of the time they're syrupy or sentimental and yuck (I'm looking at you The Lovely Bones). Hardcore science fiction is hard for me because I don't have the vocabulary required to understand what is going on. I keep trying, though. There are some non-fiction books I tend to avoid - I don't read as much history as I probably should. I'm picky about biography and autobiography. I don't like economics treatises, or science books. I would say my taste is pretty eclectic, but after that long list of "nopes" I may have to revise my assessment.

Well, I feel like this post is plenty long enough. Now it's your turn. What do you have to say about any of these questions?