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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The rules for reading

I discovered this article sitting in my 'Blog Fodder' bookmark folder, and I figured I should address the topic. It's about reading, and the rules we adopt for how we go about reading. Here are the rules the author posts (I snip the explanatory content, so please go read the article for more!)

1. Always stop at the end of a chapter. Always.

I really try to do this. Failing this, if the book has longish chapters and I'm really tired and I know I'm not gonna make it another ten pages, I'll read to the next line break. Books that never use line breaks or section breaks tend to really madden me. The most infuriating case of this that I recall off the top of my head is The Illuminatus Trilogy, where the authors completely shift topics, locations, and whatnot from one paragraph to the next, no break whatsoever. But I do look for logical breaking points.

2. Use specific bookmarks.

I don't use specific bookmarks for specific purposes or books, but I do have several that I use regularly; one is my old Borders Rewards card, with which I simply cannot bear to part. I carry a piece of Borders with me, always! (Hey, I spent many a wonderful hour in Borders.)

2a. No dog-earing, bending, or folding of pages.

I agree with this wholeheartedly. My librarian mother drilled this into me at a very early age, and I've never once rebelled against this since. I hate dog-earing pages, and it bugs me to no end.

2b. Weirdly enough, spine-breaking is fine, just don’t get too crazy with it.

Enhhhhh...I'm not a fan of spine breaking. I know it happens, but I really try to avoid it, as much as possible. The only exceptions are cookbooks, which I want to lie as flat as possible while I'm cooking, but you know what? Lots of times I won't even break the spine with those.

3. Always read two books at once.

More than that, if I can! The trick is to vary the genres, or have one non-fic and one fiction going at once. Graphic novels can be fit into the reading schedule in this way, too. I only read one book at a time if one particular book sweeps my imagination away.

4. No (or minimal) writing in books.

Agreed. I used to write all manner of marginalia in my academic books at school, such as all my various philosophy books. Now I can't abide the practice. The only acceptable writing is a note to the receiver in the frontispiece, if the book is a gift. Otherwise, no writing!

5. Rereads must be earned because there are too many great books out there to read an okay one twice.

I'd agree with this. I don't do a whole lot of complete re-reads, but I will dip into books now and again to refresh my memory on passages. Guy Gavriel Kay, Christopher Moore, JRR Tolkien, and JK Rowling are on my list of re-read authors. Carl Sagan, too. Maybe a few others. In general, I approach re-reads as I do anything else: "What am I in the mood to read right now?"

What other rules do I have? Well:

6. Not finishing a book is OK.

Seriously, I just don't have time to read everything, and if a book isn't working for me, it's OK to stop and move on to something else.

7. It is always better to take more books on a trip than you think you'll possibly have time to read.

Because how do you know how much time you're gonna have?!

8. Having a favorite genre is fine. Getting stuck in that genre is bad.

Variety is a spice. Or something. You can look it up.

What are your rule for reading?

1 comment:

Call me Paul said...

I smiled at the rules about how one physically treats a book. One night I made hot chocolate for the wife, and took it to her as she was reading in bed. There was no coaster on the night table, so I did not want to put down the mug of hot chocolate. "Just put it on that book," she said. I couldn't do it. I could not bring myself to place a beverage upon a book. She had to take it out of my hand and put it down herself. I turned away. I couldn't watch. I immediately went and found a coaster and brought it back to her. My wife found this all very amusing.