My Reading Habits

IMG_8801This was a fun little quiz I found online.

READING HABITS

1. Do you have a certain place at home for reading?  Not really. I’ll read anywhere I can see the page. That includes while sitting, standing, walking, playing with the dogs, cooking, eating, etc.

2. Bookmark or random piece of paper?  Anything that’s at hand. Receipts, fortunes from fortune cookies, post-its, random papers. I do have bookmarks though. I just mostly misplace them. Or leave them in the book when I’m done.

3. Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter?  If I love the book, stopping anywhere is hard, but I can make myself do it at the end of a chapter. If I’m not as into it, I can stop anywhere.

4. Do you eat or drink while reading?  Um, yes. Reading is life.

5. Multitasking: Music or TV while reading?  Sort of. If I’m really into the book, I hear nothing that’s going on around me. I’m not usually watching the TV though; that’s my husband.

6. One book at a time or several at once?  It depends. If I’m not that into the book, I might start another one at the same time. But if I’m really into it, I have trouble even putting it down.

7. Reading at home or everywhere? One time, a coworker told everyone she saw me reading while I was crossing the street. In fairness, it wasn’t like a busy street or anything.

8. Reading out loud or silently in your head?  Silently. Shhh!

9. Do you read ahead or skip pages?  No! Who even does that? (I might look ahead to see where the chapter ends, but I’m not reading it.)

10. Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?  Break it! Wear marks = love.

11. Do you write in your books?  Yes! I write, highlight. I don’t worry about smudges or marks. Again, imperfections are signs of affection in my book. (See what I did there?)

BONUS QUESTIONS

1. When do you find yourself reading? Morning, afternoon, evening, when you get a chance or all the time?  Reading is life.

2. What is your best setting to read in?  A setting where no one is attempting to talk to me. Getting arrested because I murdered the person who wouldn’t stop talking to me would really slow down my reading.

3. What do you do first – Read or Watch?  In general, I prefer to read first. But I’ve been introduced to some really great books by watching a show or movie and seeing that there’s a book.

4. What form do you prefer? Audiobook, eBook, or phsyical book?  I prefer a physical book, but I’ll go for an eBook if I need a quick fix. Or if I’m on vacation and don’t want to carry 8,000 pounds of books with me. I just started reading audiobooks, and they’re pretty cool. I can read while doing chores or driving.

5. Do you have a unique habit when you read?  Is getting covered in cats unique?

6. Do book series have to match?  I really prefer it, but I’m not going to stress if they don’t.

 

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Judging Books By Covers

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The first book I picked up because the cover was pretty. The second, because I like the way the vines look.

I have some strong opinions when it comes to books, possibly about many things that other people don’t care about.  That’s okay; I can live with that.

One of the things that drives me crazy is when a movie comes out, and suddenly the book is released with a different version of the cover to reflect the movie.  I get why they do that; it’s to increase sales.  Associating the book with the movie makes good sense from a marketing standpoint.

But I still don’t like it.

In general, I prefer the older covers, and when I go to used book stores, I can spend several minutes choosing which cover I like best.  For example, I accidentally bought two copies of The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath.  This was a great book, but I obviously don’t need two copies of it.  However, I can’t decide which one to sell back to Half-Price Books because I like both covers.

People say “don’t judge a book by its cover,” obviously meaning not to judge something’s content by what it looks like on the inside. It’s true, but I confess that sometimes a book cover will catch my eye, and that’s the only reason I read the description on the back of the book.

These things matter. If they didn’t, all books would be in a plain brown cover with simple black writing. A good cover can hint about the contents. When I’m in the mood to read horror, I’m unlikely to pick something with flowers on the cover, no matter what the title says. Well, unless they’re dead flowers. Or blood spattered… you get the idea.

One of the best choices I made, based on the cover, was John Dies at the End. I spotted it while walking through the library, and when I read the back, I had to give it a try. It was a fantastic book. Runners up are the ones pictured above.

Is the book cover important to you?  What are your preferences?

My Relationship With the Library

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A partial stack of my most recent library books. There are others… somewhere.

Dear Library,

We’ve had an on again-off again thing for years. When I’m into you, I’m all in. When I’m not into you… well, let’s just say, it’s not you; it’s me.

When I was much younger, I had a thing going on with a huge, gorgeous old library. I remember it as having like 5 stories (though that may be the memory of youth) and checking out stacks and stacks of books.

As I got older, it became easier to just buy books when I wanted them. I stopped visiting that library, and eventually, I moved away.

My next library was small and unimpressive. It was one big room in a repurposed building. It had none of the character or history of my first library. I borrowed books sometimes, but I just wasn’t that into it.

You don’t need every detail of my history, do you? The next serious relationship I had with a library happened in Arizona, where I joined my first library with a network. Even if my library didn’t have what I wanted, I could log on and “reserve” any book in the system, and they’d bring it to my library. This worked for books, CDs, and DVDs. Suddenly, I was in love again. I was borrowing like crazy, stopping by the shelf of librarian picks and grabbing books based on their covers. (This is how I discovered John Dies at the End).

When I moved, we had to end that relationship. It was tough; I’d grown accustomed to how… well… easy it was. I was afraid that the next one wouldn’t be as accessible.

Lucky for me, my current library is super easy. It has the same “reserve” feature. It also has digital borrowing, so I can get library books right on my Kindle! This is great for me, since sometimes, I have to read something RIGHT NOW, and if I don’t own it, this can be a problem. Often, I’m able to get it from the library when I want it.

I still buy a lot of books, especially ones I want to mark up or reread. But the library is a great source for me to feed my book habit without having to buy every book I ever want to read.

So, Library, I guess what I’m saying is that, for now, I’m committed to you. I can’t be exclusive because you don’t meet all my needs, but I want to see you regularly. And I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Love,

Doree

Why I Didn’t End Up Doing a Book Challenge This Year

img_7065In 2015, I did the reading challenge, and I enjoyed it.  There was a different theme every month, and I did about 10 months out of 12.  In 2016, I started the Read Harder challenge, and ticked a couple categories off.

And then I lost interest.

I ended up reading a book I didn’t like.  I tried and tried and tried to get through it, and I couldn’t.  As of this writing, I haven’t finished it, though I still want to.  It wasn’t that I hated the book; it was more that it had no discernible plot.

After putting that book aside, I thought about going back to the Read Harder challenge, but I’d lost my taste for it.  I realized that I have a lot of book lists I’m working on.  I have a classics list I’m working my way through, a book club, and a friend and I who choose books together.  That’s not including the fact that I read a lot of YA books to stay current on what’s being published (since I write YA) and reading books for fun.

While I liked the idea of the Read Harder challenge, in the end it just didn’t work for me.  I may look at the challenge for 2017, and if I like it, I’ll give it a try.  Or maybe I’ll look for a challenge that doesn’t have as many books on it, or fits with my tastes a little better.

I think I lost sight of the fact that the challenge was meant to be a game instead of a task. It became work, rather than a scavenger hunt. I love books that make me think or books that make me see the world differently. I love discovering books I wouldn’t have read on my own. But I don’t like taking it all to seriously, and that’s what I did for a little while.

What do you think of book challenges? Are you planning to join one for 2017?

L is for Libraries

“Doree, you like libraries?  What a surprise!” -said no one.  Ever.

I don’t remember the first time my mom took me to the Reading Public Library, but I do remember my sense of wonder at the huge old building.  The kids’ section was in the basement, and it was a big room filled with books.  I loved browsing shelves and reading the backs, trying to find interesting books.  I think the limit was 50 books at a time, so I could pretty much check out as many books as I wanted.  I had a few favorites, that I would check out over and over, but I also liked finding new friends on the shelves.

Reading Public Library

Reading Public Library

Graduating from the kids’ section to the grown-up library was a bittersweet day for me, as it meant I could no longer check out kids’ books.  Because the adult area was completely separate from the kids’ section and my parents weren’t really readers, I got to experience the adult section for the first time when I got my adult library card.

The Reading Library was a real library, three or four floors high, with more books than even I could conceive of reading in my lifetime.  They had computer stations, back when that was something new.  The library was well-lit, not like the dusty old, dimly lit libraries that feature in good horror and fantasy stories.  But the lighting didn’t dispel the magic.  It still lurked in the stacks, borne out by the mythical numbering system that no one but librarians understood.  I remember looking up books in the card catalog, and while I appreciate the efficiency of the digital system, there was something undeniably cool about having the card in the back stamped with a date.

When I moved the first time, I was disappointed by the small library in a modern building, and each time I’ve moved, it’s been the same.  I love my current library, and appreciate that I can go online and order books from any of their partner libraries, place “holds” on books, or even borrow something digitally.  I can appreciate technology, and still feel nostalgic for that big library in the old stone building.

Magic

Skagway, Alaska Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Skagway, Alaska
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Since I was a little girl, I’ve believed in magic. My understanding of it has changed over time, but my belief in it has persisited. When I was a child, I called that magic “Santa Claus,” “Easter Bunny,” “mom,” and “dad.” As I’ve grown up, I’ve learned other names for it, like “love” and “friendship.” Some magic I’ve learned about can’t be named, only felt. I feel magic in certain secret places in the woods, near water. I feel it brush along my skin when I hear poems that speak to my soul.  I feel it in the warmth of bonfires and in the coolness of an autumn evening.  I see it in the white fur on my dog’s face, white fur that wasn’t there before.  I taste it when a new flavor melts on my tongue.  I hear it in my grandfather’s voice, long gone, but not forgotten.

One type of magic that has never changed for me is that magic of books.  Before I continue, I want to be clear that I’m not talking in metaphors here.  I literally mean magic, which is defined as “1.  Of, relating to, or invoking the supernatural. 2.  Possessing distinctive qualities that produce unaccountable or baffling effects.”

Science fiction talks about transporters and tardises, of teleportation and apparation, but only books transport you somewhere else, somewhere you can really feel the wind on your face, the sun on your skin.  I’ve smelled smoke and caramel.  I’ve heard birds sing and voices speak to me.  When I finish a book that really means something to me, I can tell that I’ve changed.  The magic that is contained within the pages is hard to describe to someone who’s never felt it.  To some people, books are just books, and words are just words.

I’ll admit that not every book contains magic.  I’ve read some where the spell flickers and fizzles, and some where I never even get a whiff of any magic at all.  It can be hard to tell which ones will have magic by the cover.  Sometimes a book I thought would be utterly ordinary weaves a spell so intricate that it never quite lets go.  And other times, a book I was convinced would show me new things was merely a bunch of pages and words after all.

That’s why I write.  I feel the magic in my fingertips at times, and can almost capture the feelings of prisms in my brain.  There are times when I write that I’m transported and transformed at the same time.  There are times when I hear music in my head, and my senses are on hyper alert.  And there are other times when everything fades so completely into the background that I’m not really sure where my body is anymore.

Because I pay attention and believe, I sometimes find magic in surprising places.  That doesn’t mean that it isn’t there for everyone, just that we all have choices on what to see and what not to.  Magic is easy to ignore, and if you ignore it, sometimes you start to believe it’s no longer there.

My understanding of magic has changed, but luckily, just as much continues to be a mystery.  Magic should never be separated from mystery.

Where do you find magic?

Books and Relationships

Turn the page, wouldja?

Turn the page, wouldja?

Zoë Heller and Anna Holmes recently posed the question: Have you ever had a relationship end because of a book?

I found the idea intriguing, and as they both present some of the arguments they’ve had with significant others over books, I envy their passion, at least a little.

You see, I confess: I’ve never dated a man who likes to read.

I don’t know why this would be.  I’m known in my circle of friends as reading more than any human being should have time for.  I devour books.  I read them walking around my house, in the bathtub, in my backyard, and at stoplights.  I read them in line at the grocery store and waiting at the doctor’s office.  To me, waiting is a cause for celebration, not a reason to get upset, because I always have a book in my purse.  And should I forget my book, well, I have a whole stack of books on the Kindle app in my iPhone.

I’ve had friends who like to read, but they usually don’t read the same things I do.  I have several friends who read high fantasy, which is too slow for me, and several friends who read literary fiction that goes over my head.  So I don’t really have people I can discuss books with, or get mad at when they disagree.

I’m part of an online book club, and while I enjoy it, it’s just not the same as sitting down with a good friend over a cup of coffee and discussing why literary fiction is so damn depressing.

Then again, I also can’t imagine getting so passionate about my opinion on any book that I’d break up with someone over their opinion.

Unless they said I read too much.  Then… they’re dead to me.