My reading habits have been described as obsessive, enviable, irritating, and impressive. Most of the people in my life would tell you that I read more than anyone they know. I’ve always considered this a point of pride! But sometimes you have to examine a relationship to see if it’s healthy. Let’s check in on my reading habits today and see if my relationship with books is good or evil.
Reading Challenging Books: I do like to challenge myself! Reading is an intellectual pursuit for me, which stimulates my brain and feeds the need I have to consume as much information as possible. Challenging books have a way of slowing down my mind so that I’m reading at a pace that lets me digest my words, and that helps calm down other areas of my life as well. Current book that falls under challenging? I recently finished City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin, the third in a series that is so Faulkner well-written and has so much going on that I have a hard time summarizing it. Vampires-but-a-virus-post-apocalyptic-spanning-many-generations-trying-to-defeat-them comes close. Start with The Passage, and I can almost guarantee you’ll be hooked. Gregory Maguire’s books are also so intelligently-written it can be painful. The Wicked series is a definite brain-stretcher. I used to cover cheap paper bookmarks with all the words I needed to look up while reading them.
Discussing Books with Friends: My book club is one of the things that truly saves my life and keeps me sane. Sometimes having a scheduled book to read, and reading it knowing that I’ll be discussing overarching themes and sharing great quotes makes me a more careful reader. Reading a great book with a sort of discussion audience in mind also makes me pick up on different moments than reading just for me. I’ll go to a book club meeting ready to laugh at a passage or event very similar to something one of my friends would do that may not have struck me were I not reading with an audience in mind. It’s also a great way for me to expand my literary tastes, and break me out of a rut if I’ve been reading too many YA fiction post-apocalyptic distopian fantasies as of late (almost always guilty!). Book club’s next read is Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu, and I’m really excited to discuss this collection of short stories with my best friends.
Reading What You Like: I don’t keep up with the New York Times best-sellers list or even always have a good idea of what is considered canon or classic lit. I always have lists upon lists of books recommended to me by reader friends and fun Buzzfeed lists and my own Amazon kindle wish list, but sometimes I need to take a break from recommendations and just read something I know I’ll enjoy, be it because it’s by an author I like, I’ve read it before, or I happen to find the cover art attractive. I enjoy the ability to find my own North when journeying book to book, even if I hit a stinker every now and then. Branching out has found me books like Wool by Hugh Howey, Deathless by Catherynne Valente, and plenty of terrible books that I won’t name here for fear of tempting you!
Reading in the Dark: I heard it a million times growing up, as I read in the backseat of the car on the way home somewhere with my parents after dark, “You’ll ruin your eyes.” Reading in low light, especially on a bright screen in our technologically-advanced age, does cause eye strain and can make your eyes very tired. Reading before bed is one of my favorite ways to wind down, but if I pick the wrong book, if it’s too exciting, I end up squinting in low light a lot longer than I should, or I rev my brain back up and can’t fall asleep easily.
Reading Too Many Books at Once: This one seems like such a good idea! A book for before bedtime, a book for the commute if you take public transportation, a book for my purse if I happen to find myself with a lull, a book for lunch breaks at work… on and on. While there’s nothing wrong with having several books going at once, take stock every once in awhile. Is one of those books neglected and well on its way to becoming an abandoned book? Are you losing track of which main characater belongs in which world? Keep your reading selections tight- you can always turn your commute book into your next lunch break book instead, and still get through the titles you’re dying to read.
So what’s the verdict? Can my love affair with reading continue, or is it toxic? Those are my best and worst reading habits- what are yours?
Lit & Love,