Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Reading Habits

I’m so obsessed with the push to finish my book that I was finding it hard to come up with anything to blog about. So I’m stealing this “Reading Habits” meme from Charles. Here goes:

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack?
I will eat while I’m reading. I also read while I’m eating. But I’m not much of a “snacker” so I don’t have a favorite reading snack.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?
I’ve recently started writing in nonfiction books. It makes it easier to find points I want to refer back to later.

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open?
Bookmark—even though it’s frequently just a Post-it note. It drives me nuts when people borrow one of my books and break the spine by laying it flat.

Fiction, nonfiction, or both?
I start a lot of fiction but rarely finish it. Lately I’ve found myself reading more and more nonfiction, which seems to hold my attention better.

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of a chapter, or can you stop anywhere?
I can generally put a book down at any time.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop and look it up right away?
I actually don’t come across that many words I don’t know. But I will look them up if it’s convenient (or write them on my Post-it note bookmark for later).

What are you currently reading?
South of Broad, by Pat Conroy
Republican Gomorrah, by Max Blumenthall
Sheba, by Nicholas Clapp
Tripwire, by Lee Child
Only the first and last of these are fiction. I’ll probably finish the Conroy, but not the Child. I’ll definitely finish the two nonfiction.

What is the last book you bought?
The Road to Ubar, by Nicholas Clapp. I enjoyed Sheba so much I just ordered Clapp’s other book, although it hasn’t arrived yet.

Are you the type of person who reads one book at a time, or can you read more than one?
I’ll frequently have four or five going at a time. But one will usually be my main focus.

Do you have a favorite time/place to read?
I don’t seem to be able to carve much reading time out of the day, so most of my reading is done at night, right before I go to bed.

Do you prefer series books or stand alones?
I find that, in general, stand-alone books are more likely to have a better story line and character arc. But most readers love series, and publishers and authors aim to please, so series have become much more common.

Is there a specific book or author you find yourself recommending over and over?
My favorite writer of all time is Dorothy Dunnett. But I’ve recommended her Lymond series to many, many friends over the years only to find that most do not share my enthusiasm!

How do you organize your books?(by genre, title, author’s last name, etc.)
I have an eccentric shelving system that no one else could ever understand. My history books (the vast majority of my collection) are shelved by period and country, i.e., ancient Greek history, medieval England, twentieth-century German history, etc. But then I’ll put Greek philosophers and, say, the Athenian playwrights with the Greek history, while Nietzsche goes on the “philosophy and religion” shelf rather than with the German history. Fiction is just as strange. If it’s a “pretty” book (I love collecting gilded leather copies of classics) it goes on certain shelves, but if it’s just a humdrum copy of a classic, it goes someplace less prominent. Hardcover contemporary fiction by my all-time authors—Pat Conroy, James Lee Burke, John Connolly, Georgette Heyer, etc.—goes in my office. Everyone else goes in the upstairs hall, where they are alphabetized. I rarely keep paperbacks. If I like a book enough to want to keep it, I’ll look for a hardcover, if available—which is probably why I am seriously running out of bookshelf space!


Steve Malley said...

I've been stumped for a topic lately-- think I'll steal this one too! :)

orannia said...

Very interesting - thank you Candy. I very rarely buy hardbacks - I can't afford them - but I did buy all of Sarah Monette's Doctrine of Labyrinths in hardback as I wanted them all and the second book is incredibly hard to find (in either paperback or hardback). And they look so pretty :)

cs harris said...

Steve, must be the time of year because I was sure stumped.

Orannia, I started collecting hardcovers after Katrina. The trauma of that event cured any last lingering traces of my materialism. I am still very attached to what I have but I just don't want new "stuff" any more. Yet people still like to buy me things for birthdays, mothers days, christmases, etc, so I started asking for nice copies of my favorite books. Also, because most of them are no longer available in hardcover, I pick a lot of them at the library booksale.

Lainey said...

I reserved The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett at my library.

Charles Gramlich said...

my shelving at my new place is more eccentric than it used to be at the old place because my shelves are broken up more through out the house.

cs harris said...

Lainey, I do hope you like it. If you're going WTF at the beginning, give it time!

Charles, my shelves used to be slightly more logical than they are, but over the years as my collection has grown and changed I've had to shift things to the point they're now really crazy.

Susan/DC said...

I almost always read to the end of a chapter. I have to -- I'm a night person, my husband is a morning person, and when he's trying to sleep and constantly asking when I'll turn off the light on my side of the bed, my standard answer is "when I get to the end of the chapter". Of course, it may be the current one or 3 chapters later, but I do feel I have to be honest and finish at the end of a chapter.

As for shelving, there's one big bookcase with the fiction shelved alphabetically by author, but none of the other bookcases (there's at least one in almost every room) have any organization whatsoever. And then there are the many, many boxes of books for which we don't have shelf space. Books are just about the only things I'm greedy about (and travel, but that requires no storage) and I reread often enough to justify keeping so many books -- at least, that's what I tell myself and my husband, when he asks.

Barbara Martin said...

It's always interesting to read about a writer's reading habits.

I have a bookcase of books that are going through a recycling as I'm moving next month. Choosing which goes or stays hasn't been too bad. I have four hardcovers in the Robert Jordan Wheel of Time series just before the end which I haven't read, and no room in my designated moving boxes. Oh, well.

cs harris said...

Susan/DC, people's book habits are fascinating, aren't they?

Barbara, I'm getting better about letting go of books. But I'm it's still hard.

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