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The Reading Meme

27 May, 2010

I realise I’ve fallen behind with my blogging lately. I’m not going to make excuses, as all the work I’ve taken on recently has been of my own making. No-one’s tell me I need to work on a novel, edits for another and a short story at the same time, let alone the second novel idea that I’ve been fiddling around with this morning. Anyway, as my last post talked a bit about my reading habits, I thought I’d elaborate by filling in the reading meme I came across on Speculative Horizons a few weeks ago.


Do you snack while you read? If so, favourite reading snack:

I don’t tend to eat much while reading, though I will usually have a cup of tea or coffee at my elbow.

What is your favourite drink while reading?

Oops, already answered that one. I suppose I could elaborate that I tend towards Earl Grey or Ceylon tea. As for coffee, I’m the coffee-fan’s worst nightmare: cheap instant decaf, with loads of milk. Luvverly.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?

I’m not entirely against writing in books, because some of the second-hand textbooks I’ve bought have had really useful or hilarious comments scribbled in the margins. (As an aside, I once had a book from my uni library in which someone had written ‘This is the most pretentious, useless, waste of time article I’ve ever read’, before going on to describe in some detail why that was the case.) I don’t really have any need to write in books any more though.

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open?

Dog-earing and laying books flat does horrify me because it damages the book without adding anything worthwhile. I have a selection of bookmarks, including a magnetic rabbit, a playing card advertising a poker website (gained from another library book), old till receipts and a ‘safety card’, with phone numbers for various security services and advice lines around the uni on it. Pretty much anything I pick up at the time, basically.

Fiction, non-fiction, or both?

Most fiction, although I’m trying to get back into more non-fiction. The amount of reading I had to do for my degree spoiled non-fiction for me somewhat, but I picked up a book on Isabella de Medici recently so hopefully I’ll get round to that one soon.

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of a chapter, or can you stop anywhere?

I used to always read to the end of a chapter, but these days I have to fit my reading around all my other commitments, so I tend to just stop wherever necessary. This is most relevant when I get chance to read at work – I can’t just say “I’ll be with you when I’ve found out how this chapter ends” when a student has lost their library card or one of the printers has exploded (ok, maybe not exploded, but fixer-of-printers really should be part of my job description).

Are you the type of person to throw a book across the room or on the floor if the author irritates you?

I don’t think I’ve ever thrown a book because they don’t tend to irritate me enough to make me angry. The biggest insult I can give a book is to put it down and never pick it up again. If I don’t finish something, it must have been pretty dire.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop and look it up right away?

Sometimes, but only if I’m near a dictionary or computer. Usually I just keep reading, because I can usually get the gist of a sentence even if I don’t understand a word. Incidentally, this is a habit gained from reading adult books when I was a kid, and frequently coming across words I didn’t understand.

What are you currently reading?

2666 and the first of Christopher Tolkien’s Histories of Middle-Earth. I’m picking my way slowly through both of these though and have been for weeks. I’ve just gone back to them because I’m waiting for a whole load of Alt.Fiction related books to turn up in the post.

What is the last book you bought?

The four books I’m waiting for, actually. One each by Kim Lakin-Smith, Mark Chadbourn, Mark Charan Newton and Juliet McKenna. Before that, a handful of second-hand books from my local Oxfam Books and Music.

Are you the type of person that reads one book at a time, or can you read more than one?

Ever since I was little, I’ve tended to read two or three books at once (and frequently got comments from my parents along the lines of ‘how can you remember what’s happening in them all?’ I always could, even if I hadn’t looked at a book for months). I dropped this habit for a few years at uni, but I’ve gone back to it now. Not for any particular reason – it just seems practical and I think it makes me read more.

Do you have a favorite time/place to read?

Quiet evenings at work. The Poang chair in my office. Sitting on the bed. I prefer to read where it’s quiet – the TV is a big distraction, for example – but I can read just about anywhere.

Do you prefer series books or standalones?

I don’t really have a preference either way, although I will note that I rarely read past the first book in a series. The lack of resolution doesn’t bother me and I prefer to read the widest variety of authors possible, rather than plough through a whole twelve book series by one author, or whatever it may be.

Is there a specific book or author you find yourself recommending over and over?

K.J. Bishop’s The Etched City, which I’ve talked about on this blog before. As for authors in general, probably Alastair Reynolds and Steph Swainston.

How do you organize your books? (by genre, title, author’s last name, etc.)

Alphabetically, by author’s last name. Within author, by series order or by publication date for standalones. (I have a similar system for my hundreds of CDs too.) Then there’s the shelf for books waiting to be read, the manga shelf and the non-fiction shelves. I have a lot of bookcases and yeah, I know all this sounds quite obsessive – it is – but I like to be able to find things. Also can you tell my two jobs since uni have been in a bookshop and a library?


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