This blog talks a lot about books, but not as often about the act of reading itself. Today I’d like to share my reading habits. I’d love to know where we differ and where we have things in common. This post is inspired by TheBookishUniverse post about her reading habits.
WHEN I READ
I read on my breaks at work, and in all the odd moments in between things. I don’t read for long periods uninterrupted unless I’m at the end of a book or it’s good enough to make me put aside everything else. I read fast, and that’s enough. I do try to stop at section breaks, but sometimes it’s between paragraphs. If I finish a chapter and have time left, I start the next one and don’t worry about where I will break.
I read multiple books at a time. At a minimum, I have three: an audio book in my car, a print book, and a graphic novel. In addition, I read picture books in one sitting, often during a lull at work. When I read a non-fiction book, it’s in addition to everything else. When I’m struggling to finish something, I take a break and read an online short story or fanfic on my tablet.
I read mostly fantasy, science fiction, and dystopia. In graphic novels, I read all genres. A favorite theme will make me stray outside of my genre preferences, as will a strong audio book narrator or performance. My consistent themes are mythology, heists and con men, and LGBT characters. Some trends make a temporary impact on my tastes but don’t last for long: 2014 was noir; 2015 is fairy tale retellings. I don’t read the same genre on multiple formats at the same time, so the audio and print are always on different topics.
MY BOOK SOURCE
98% of what I read comes from the library, where I work. I don’t underline, write in the margins, bend down corners, or break spines. I have a stack of bookmarks that get reused constantly. When I read graphic novels, I mark panels to scan for Graphic Goodies with bits of scratch paper. I don’t often buy books, but when I do it’s on my nook.
As a librarian, a large part of my job is staying up to date with new releases. I use Goodreads monthly emails for favorite genres and authors I’ve read (25%), Tor.com’s Facebook feed for general scifi/fantasy news (25%), recommendations and book talks from fellow librarians (20%), and School Library Journal emails for YA (10%). The rest of my to-read list (20%) comes from my Goodreads feed.
HOW I WEED BOOKS
I weed my to-read list constantly on Goodreads. I find Goodreads user reviews more helpful than Amazon or publisher descriptions. I need both positives and negatives to make a decision, and details to back them up, but I don’t read quotes or excerpts in reviews and I hate gifs. I use my to-read list for upcoming releases I want to keep an eye on. As titles are released, I revisit or sample them to decide if they stay. They get dropped down to the to-read-eventually list if the mood doesn’t match what I’m wanting right now, if the sample is decent but doesn’t wow, or if there’s something making me hesitate about them. They get deleted altogether if I’ve gotten enough information to think they won’t be a good fit or if they don’t pass the sample test.
WHY I SAMPLE BOOKS
After years at a bookstore drowning in ARCs, I give books 15 minutes to catch my attention. If at the end of my break I don’t care what happens next, I stop reading. I can recognize characters and setting from a vague description, and match the book up with its reader. Now that I’m library instead, the 15 minute time limit has evolved into the ebook sample preview. I also check out two or three options for my next read and decide on the basis of page one.
WHY I QUIT BOOKS
You will rarely find anything lower than a three star review here, because I quit reading books ruthlessly when they’re not working for me. My background as a bookseller and librarian has given me a strange combination of beliefs: all books have value and will be loved by someone AND I know what I like and refuse to waste time on books that don’t work for me.
AS I READ
While I read, I try not to analyze either the writing or my reaction. I read fast, for enjoyment. But I do read like a librarian. I look for appeal factors and thematic elements to help me match each book to its perfect reader. I brainstorm readalike titles, and drop those recommendations into a blank review post as I think of them. By the time I finish reading, the recommendation section is finished, and often the ideal reader checklist that starts my review. As I read, I know what star ratings I’m deciding between, and what it would take to move up or down, but I don’t try to formulate my own reaction until I finish.
With the ideal reader section and the recommendations complete, I move on to the full review section. I write down a quick list of my pros and cons and decide my star rating. I expand it into the full review over the next few days, while I start reading the next book. If it’s a four or five star book, I do a book talk for it on my next opening shift at work. Presenting it aloud helps me crystallize my thoughts, and afterwards I reread the middle section before posting.
What about you all? Do we share any habits? Which habits are the most different?
I tag anyone who would like to participate to share your own reading habits.