Dirty Little Reading Habits

I saw this fun tag on the blog 50 a Year and could not resist joining in. It’s all about those silly little rituals us gourmand and gourmet readers like to build up around our favourite activity.

Do you have a certain place at home for reading?

I can read anywhere, in any position, even if my legs and arms get pins and needles. But I will always read at least a page or two (usually a lot more) propped up on lots of pillows in my bed at night, just before going to sleep. It helps me fall asleep more easily and forget about any of the day’s less glorious moments.

Bookmark or a random piece of paper?

I do prefer a bookmark and have quite an extensive collection of them scattered all over the house. However, bookmarks have a secret life of their own and have been known to disappear suddenly when you need them most (especially on planes). So I’ve been known to use boarding passes and even banknotes as an emergency bookmark.

Can you stop reading any time, or do you have to stop in a certain place?

Always at the end of a chapter. I hope that any choking child or burning house will have the courtesy to wait until I’ve reached that perfect point of interruption!

cherriesDo you eat or drink while reading?

As a child, during my summer holidays, I would read perched up in a cherry tree, so I did develop some fruit-eating habits whilst reading a book. Later in life, this led to quite a bit of reading/snacking marathons (on crisps and chocolate, mostly), because I didn’t want to interrupt the story for a proper sit-down meal. I try not to do it so much nowadays, not just for my own health, but also for the health of the books (no nasty chocolate smears on the pages or greasy thumb prints).

Can you read while listening to music/watching TV?

I say I can, but it does mean that the music/TV just gets completely drowned out and I have no idea what is on in the background.

One book at a time or several at once?

Am I really weird that I do have more than one on the go at any given time? I usually have about three in the mix, so that I can choose what to read depending on mood, time of day, how much time I have to read etc. I always have a crime novel close by (that’s my comfort read, even if I like them quite dark and gruelling), something in a foreign language (too much hard work to read it without occasional light relief) and then a literary novel or a volume of poetry or something non-fictiony. I don’t usually read three in the same genre and language at the same time: that would cross those dainty little wires in my brains.

From leapfrog.com
From leapfrog.com

Reading out loud or silently in your head?

I am almost a speed-reader (not really, I haven’t done any proper training, but I am quite fast), so far too fast to read out loud! However, I do love to read out loud if given half a chance. I used to bore my poor mother to death reading from the Mallory Towers series and The Little White Horse when I was a child, and I really enjoyed bedtime stories with my own children. Sadly, they won’t let me ‘perform’ for them anymore. I miss those cuddly, sharing moments.

Do you read ahead and skip pages?

Only if the book is really, really boring but I have promised to read it for reviewing purposes and I am trying to find its redeeming feature. Sadly, in most such cases, I will end up refusing to review it.

In my misguided youth, I may have peeked at the very last sentence of a book if I cared a lot about the characters. Unfortunately, the final sentence usually doesn’t give a lot away… and then I would have that on my conscience for the duration of the book. Not worth the guilt, I say!

Break the spine or keep it new?

Most of my books look virtually new and unread, so I expect to see them returned in that very same condition when I lend them to others. (!!!) Alas! I’ve often learnt that a bookworm friend might have very different reading habits from mine (bent-down corners, broken spines, even scribbles and greasy pawprints, to name just a few pet peeves).

But, before you think I’m too anal about it, I have to admit that I do have some well-thumbed, less pristine books in my collection. These are my faithful old companions that have followed me across borders for over thirty years now and have been re-read many, many times.

No, not my books! From RestorationSOS.com
No, not my books! From RestorationSOS.com

Do you write in books?

(Whispers) I used to. I feel really bad about it still.

I might do it in textbooks or reference books (the ones I own, of course, not the ones I borrow from the library, of course), but not in novels. I have a notebook to scribble my thoughts in for later reviews, but I don’t always have it to hand, so the best thoughts just fly away…

I’d love to hear all about your own secret little reading habits, if you want to let me know in the comments below. Or, who knows, maybe even join in the tag on your own blog?

20 thoughts on “Dirty Little Reading Habits”

  1. What a great post, Marina Sofia, and a great idea! I’m with you in having more than one book going at once. Oh, and yes, there’s nothing like being propped up on pillows, reading just before you go to sleep!

    1. Another ‘multiple sinner’ (or multitasker?). I thought I was in a very small minority, so I’m delighted to hear others read more than one book at a time. And the bedtime story really is a must…

  2. I have two or three going at once, and I like to mix things (genres) up a lot. I read before bed at night and on days off, I like to read before I get up too,. No I can’t listen to music at the same time as reading, and I don’t eat at the same time either.
    Bookmarks… and no writing in books. Also no dog ears!

  3. Oh yes, multiple books at a time. When I was in university, I wisely took a speed reading course. It was great because not only did it teach to read super fast, but also to retain what was read so it helped my memory as well. A friend calls me Trap as in, steel trap, because of memory and retention. I read the last Harry Potter book in four hours….I slowed it down some. I have about eight books at a time – my private fetish is historical fiction/mystery, poetry, fiction, cookbook/technique book, something archaeological, grueling mystery! I read certain books at certain times of the year as well – JD Salinger in the fall – every fall. I found a wonderful series about two private enquiry agents in the later Victorian period, and there is a certain author whose science fiction and/or historical mysteries are always in the rotation. And at bedtime – lways read at bedtime. I keep my tablet with me so if I have to wait longer than 15 minutes, I snag a quick read. I am….voracious when it comes to reading. This is a fun topic.

    1. Wow – eight on the go at any given time! That is quite something, indeed – voracious is the word! And I have to say I agree certain books suit certain times of year particularly well.

  4. I can have up to three open books and when pulls ahead, I finish it and move on to the other one. I like to read at night before bed and on days off. I don’t eat while reading and can stop anywhere. One thing I don’t do very much of is rereading. Not enough time 🙂

  5. Great quiz, Marina, made me think. I might borrow this.

    Here’s some of my answers:
    Bookmarks – I have a huge collection of freebie bookmarks from around the world, yet my favorites are three laminated bookmarks that a friend from Australia made by hand and sent to me (they’re becoming worn out though) and some awesome magnetic bookmarks from Greece, with Greek statues on them
    TV/Music – Tried it, can’t really do it. I just focus better in silence.
    Skipping ahead – I once read a letter to the editor about a woman who argued with a friend about this, which I found interesting. She argued that books should be read cover-to-cover, whereas her friend, who liked to read mysteries, would read the last chapter first, then start from the beginning to see if she could pick up on the clues the detective did, or piece together how the detective might have solved the case. Hmm….

    By the way, you’ve been chosen as one of today’s nine blogs in That’s So Jacob’s Ninth Month Blog Challenge (http://www.thatssojacob.wordpress.com)! I challenge you to find nine blogs you find interesting and give them a comment to brighten their day…well, eight other blogs and mine 🙂 Copy this message in your comment and enjoy your new blog friends!

  6. I can only read 1 book at a time and when I am really motivated & excited, I can finish it in a day or two ~ I must admit of neglecting my family when I am really into books, smiles ~ I tend to read very fast, skipping long descriptions and when I can’t take the suspense, I sneak to read the ending ~

    Good to see you ~

  7. Love these answers! I love the comment about reading certain books at certain times of the year. Historical fiction always wins out when the nights get dark and grisly goings on in 18th C London are a fav for some reason – reading beside an open fire too is the best.

    It’s great to see we’re not alone – friends think I’m weird for not cracking a spine or not putting books on the floor. They have to be treated right! Does anyone else ‘tidy’ the shelves in a bookshop too? When someone walks past a table display and knocks them, I always like to ‘tidy up’ after them as I don’t want them falling on the floor! Or placing them back in the right pile. Eeh I need help or a job in Waterstones!

    Bookmarks – those little wooden coffee stirrers come in handy. And recipts – although check you don’t need to take something back before you use it. Had something for nearly two weeks before it went back as I couldn’t find the thing! (It was a big and scary book I only read at night for max effect)

    1. Oh, yes, I tidy up books in libraries and bookshops as well… Perhaps less so in libraries, because the books don’t look quite so brand-new and shiny.

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