"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A conversation with my cousin's daughter...

I sure hope that the written word never appears this way to you.
Last night I had a conversation with my cousin's daughter. I felt gratified to learn that she reads this blog, so I imagine she will see this post. (Hi, sweetie!) Anyway, she asked me how I can read so many books. The conversation got me thinking about reading and how it is that I consume as many books as I do. If you have some other suggestions, please help me out and add a comment below. In the meantime, here are a few of my "techniques":

  • Read as though it were homework. When stuck, this works for me to get me started again. When I was a classroom teacher I spent a portion of every day lesson-planning and grading papers. Without those tasks I can set aside time most every day to read as if it were my job. Hey, reading is my job. As a librarian I view it as part of my job to be familiar with as many books as possible.
  • Set reading goals. Along the line of reading like it is homework, I frequently set myself small reading goals. This morning I decided, for example, to read 50 pages of my current book before I got dressed. Goodreads has an app which allows readers to set yearly goals. My yearly goal is to read 108 books, which divided out is nine books per month. Lofty but doable.
  • Experiment with genres. I get bored with books in just one genre. This past Spring I went on a poetry rampage. I just finished two biographies. My last book encorporated US history while my current book is set in Elizabethan times. I'm listening to a Science Fiction book right now on audiobooks.  Switch it up to remain interested and to keep reading fresh.
  • Talk about books with friends and colleagues. Readers like to talk about the books they have read. I think it is fun to discuss my thoughts on books as well as listen to others' thoughts and from it gain new suggested titles to look for. Book clubs are perfect for this but one doesn't have to join a club to talk about books with others.  When I go to a party or dinner out with friends I often find myself asking, "What are you reading right now?"
  • Listen to audiobooks. I spend at least 45 minutes of every work day in the car, that is audiobook time. I especially like listening to fantasy books or books set in other countries. Why? Because the narrator helps me with pronunciation. If I don't know how to pronounce a word, it really slows down my reading speed. It really helps me to get the names of characters and places that I would stumble over if I were just reading the book.
  • Read fast. I am not taking a test over the novels so I don't have to read slowly and methodically. I read as fast as the book will allow, often skipping many words. This means I sometimes miss stuff that I have to go back and find. Ha! When students complain they don't like a book it is often because they are only reading it for ten minutes a day. They aren't reading fast enough to stay interested. Reading fast is different for every person. No one should try to compare my reading reading speed to theirs.  My advice is just read faster than what you are currently doing.
  • Abandon books that drag you down. I'm not so good at doing this myself, sometimes allowing myself to get completely stuck in an uninteresting book. Nancy Pearl suggests that one should read 100 pages minus your age before determining if a book should be cast aside. For most teenagers that is about 85 pages, which seems a bit much to me.  I usually tell kids to read at least fifty pages before giving a book the heave ho. This should not be a hard and fast rule, however. I just finished the book Kissing Shakespeare which only caught my attention at around page 150. Reluctant readers will abandon a book much sooner, so they need help selecting books that start off with a bang.
  • Read reviews, both the good and the bad. I sincerely hope that my reviews on this blog help you make good selections. But I encourage you to read others, too. I read professional reviews but I also read reviews on Amazon and Goodreads written by "regular" people. I want to read real opinions from people so I read reviews from those people who both liked and from others who hated the book. I also read reviews from bloggers that I trust have similar tastes in books. 
  • Once you find an author you like, read their other works. Many people cast about trying to decide what to read next. If all fails, try another book by a favorite author. 
  • Read award books. National Book Award, Printz Award, Carnegie Medal, Newbery, Pulitzer, etc. There is a reason these books won an award and are worthy of our attention. One student, upon returning an award book last spring, commented to me that all other books were spoiled for her now that she knows what good writing is like.  
  • What helps you read lots of books? What other suggestions do you have for my readers? Please comment.  Thank you.

12 comments:

  1. I don't read enough in other genres which is why it's helpful (and fun) to belong to a book club. Otherwise I would tend to just read mysteries! I am more into YA lit now though, thanks to you. :)

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    1. I should read more mysteries, so we balance each other out.

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  2. Some of your techniques wouldn't work for me. I don't want to read like it's my job because that might take away some of the joy. But I definitely put down books that I don't love. I also try to savor books rather than skipping over parts. My favorite is a book that I don't want to end.

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    1. I agree that reading like it is a job should be a reading-killer but as a technique to "get going" if you are stuck, it always works for me.

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  3. I find my bigggest problem with reading is that once I am "into" a book, there is nothing else I want to do, I will spend an entire day if I can just devouring the book. The problem is I don't have all that many days when I can sit for 10 hours and read, and if I don't get the time to devour my book one of two things happens, 1) I begin to get bored with the book because I haven't had the time to dedicate to it, or more often 2) The book becomes all consuming in my thoughts until I can find the time to read it. Then comes the problem with what to do when the book is over, because I typically read my books so quickly, when they are over I feel lost as if I don't know what I ever did before reading and can't imagine anything quite as wonderful as reading THAT book. The thought of starting another often feels like a crime or a dishonor to my love-affair with the book I just finished. This is why I love books in a series, I don't have to feel like I've abandoned the book when there are 2 or 3 more books to read with my beloved characters in them. Too bad most books in a series take years before the series is complete.

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    1. I know. Sometimes, after finishing a book with beloved characters, I feel bereft when the book ends. It is almost like really good friends came to visit for a few days. The whole visit is delightful and then they have to go home. I miss them so much that I walk around for days missing them. The only cure is another good book, sigh!

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  4. Cherish your time with a book. It's a pleasure I allow myself and it's therapy as well. Escapism is a great way to cope.

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    1. Really good point, Sandy. We really should treasure those moments where we have enough time to get lost in a good book.

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  5. I could have written this post. I think of reading as my "homework." I have to vary the genres I read. I read award books.

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  6. My computer wouldn't let me finish...anyway...I enjoyed your post, and think we are "reading dopplegangers!"

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    1. You are one of those people whose reviews I trust. Thanks for your contributions to my reading list.

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