By Angela Noel
July, 13, 2017
The delightful Hayley from Just Another Blog (from a woman who’s entered her 40s) answered a series of questions about her book reading habits. She’d been nominated (or dared) to do so by another blogger, Gary at Fiction is Food. In turn, she nominated me and four others to do the same. It’s a blog chain letter, but without the bad reputation or the dire predictions for breaking the chain. It’s fun. And informative. Maybe even entertaining for others to read.
Bad things won’t happen to you if you stop reading now. Probably. But do you really want to take that chance?
Let’s start with question the first:
Do you have a specific place for reading?
Kinda. I read in one of three places: in bed, on the elliptical torture device, or on the super-fabulous leather club chairs. These chairs deserve a side-note.
One day, after Paul and I had signed the purchase agreement for our house, I was driving to work. My route took me through a rather nice neighborhood and there, on the driveway, looking like two thrones, sat these gorgeous chairs. I disobeyed a number of traffic laws and screeched to the side of the road. I’d made a deal with the owner within minutes, handing over a check for the bargain-priced duo and promising to return with a vehicle capable of hauling their bulky goodness away.
Whenever possible, my butt finds these chairs. My legs curl beneath me and my book invites me in to an hour or two of storytime.
Bookmark or random pieces of paper?
Random everything. Sometimes a binder clip. Occasionally a coin. Once or twice a sock of doubtful cleanliness. But, since the Kindle/iPad revolution, most often my electronic friend keeps the place for me.
Can you stop anywhere or must it be at the end of a chapter?
If I’m in bed I stop when I’m about to lose consciousness. When I’m on the elliptical, same thing. When I’m in my leather chair I read to a logical stopping point, unless interrupted by dog, child, or husband.
Do you eat or drink whilst reading?
Yes. Electronic readers have helped make eating while reading much less likely to stain. But I don’t eat anything messy while reading. A sandwich or pastry to nibble is acceptable.
Music or TV whilst reading?
Yes to music. No to TV. I’m pretty sure TV is the devil. (But I am still seduced by it quite a lot. Which proves the point.)
One book at a time or several?
I’m a Polylego. You can read more about the word I made up and why here.
Do you prefer to read at home or elsewhere?
One of my favorite activities as a twenty-something was to load up my backpack full of books and notepads and head to a coffee shop. I rented more than one apartment because either a) the light coming through a particular window seemed perfect for an afternoon coffee and a cozy read or b) its proximity to an appropriate coffee shop meant I could walk from apartment to coffee within minutes. (And by “appropriate” I mean not filled with people cooler than me, and pastries with crumbly toppings were for sale.)
But, as I’ve entered my fourth decade and chosen a house I love with people who leave me alone (mostly) when it’s time to read or write, there’s no place like home.
Read out loud or silently?
I read to myself when it’s for my own benefit. I read out loud when I’m hanging out with my kiddo. I’m looking forward to reading all about Harry Potter’s adventures with him soon. Though I suspect I am more excited about the recitation than he.
Do you read ahead or skip pages?
I do not read ahead. BUT, my father assigned Alaska, by James Michener as required reading for the Fun Facts About Alaska (FFAA) game–you can read about that here. That sucker is a million pages long and the first 200,000 are about rocks. So, yes, I skipped some pages. And I won’t apologize for that.
Break the spine or keep it like new?
I have never owned a book that I wanted to keep in like-new condition in the entirety of my life. Though I frown on wanton book-abuse. Which would include banning books one happens to disagree with and/or ripping pages, blacking out words, or spilling one’s red wine on the pages due to overconsumption.
However, books, in my opinion, are meant to be lived-in, dog-eared, shared, and referenced. The good ones are anyway. But since I admit to being a heretical e-book fan, I don’t often have to choose between breaking the spine or keeping it like new. Pixels are evergreen.
Do you write in your books?
Sometimes. But when I go back and read my notes they don’t always make a lot of sense. I think writing in books is like getting a tattoo when you’re in college– meaningful at the time, but subject to age.
I do use the highlight and note functions of my iPad or Kindle. This is helpful when I’m reading a book for book club, or when I want to refer back to a particular passage for a blog post. The handiness of having all my notes and highlighted passages available immediately may take some of the romance out of searching the pages manually, but it sure saves time (and frustration).
What books are you reading now?
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty. My friend and one of my writing mentors, Ashley Shelby just published her first novel, South Pole Station, to excellent reviews. I picked up a copy and had her sign it for me at the launch party this past week. I’m reading that now, too. (I couldn’t stop myself.)
Favorite childhood book?
I loved the Laura Ingalls Wilder series Little House on the Prairie.
I read every book again and again. Some examples of what I remember after more than thirty years: An orange as a Christmas treat. A one-room schoolhouse for learning. Twisting hay to keep warm during the long winter. Pa singing his sunflower song. Cutting the corn off the cob just right where it falls in creamy slabs onto a clean cloth.
Laura Ingalls Wilder’s writing wasn’t filled with flowery descriptions or overwrought with meaning. She told her story like she lived her life, crisp, clear, and strong.
All-time favorite book?
I’m a sucker for Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice is my go-to book. (I’m even re-reading it now, but it doesn’t count because I practically have it memorized.)
Loving Jane Austen has its challenges. Specifically, she’s had some undue influence on my writing style. My sentences tend to be long. And an early reader of one of my novels mentioned the language in the query letter (essentially a marketing piece sent to literary agents to spark interest in the book) seemed old-fashioned. I blame Jane, and a habit of reading the anthology of her works until the book literally fell apart, for that.
But, I credit Jane for showing me that an author need not see all of the world to see into the world. Confined to society befitting her station as a clergyman’s daughter, Jane didn’t have the benefit of internet or extensive travel. Instead, she dug deeply into the complexities of character and society as she knew it. Proving forever that good stories don’t come only from complicated plots and high drama. They come from within.
Part of the fun of playing book lover’s tag is to request other bloggers provide their answers. Here’s the folks I’d like to tag in a no-obligation-I-just-think-you’re-awesome kind of way.
Susie Lindau of Susie Lindau’s Wild Ride: Wild Child extraordinaire. Writer, reader, and bionic boob recipient.
Gabe Burkhardt of (Almost) Unsalvageable: Digital artist, hiker, funny-guy, househusband, writer, all-kinds of awesome.
Erin Burton of Unbound Roots: Lover of learning, mom, teacher, outdoor-enthusiast, writer, gardener.
Shannon Schottler-Hasty of To Know Her: Foster mom, blogger, coach. Shannon’s are the hands that do the good in the world.
Katie Pitts of Fatty McCupcakes: Hilarious rambler and ranter of first-world problems and of course, cupcakes.
If you choose to participate just link back to this post, and tell us all what rings your book-lover bell. That is all.
Your turn: Whether you’re a blogger or not, I’d love to hear what you love about books. Please answer any of the questions above in the comments!