Saturday, December 5, 2009

Weekly Geeks: Reading Habits

It has been a while since I have participated in the Weekly Geeks meme, but this week's question(s) are just too good to pass by:

Books take us on journeys, flitting us off to other times, people, and places. From ancient caves to medieval castles to modern skyscrapers; from delicate geishas to turn of the century immigrants to future captains of spaceships; books are our path to other worlds. But what about the journey we give our books? What path do books take through our hands?

How do you choose what to read? Is it random or planned? Based on your mood, challenges, titles, covers, topic? What process do you use for reading? I think the reason why I failed at challenges this year is because I tend to read based on my mood. Since I teach English, I read a lot of books for class. When I want to read for pleasure I want to read what I want to read, when I want to read it. I may "plan" to read certain books in a particular order, but the truth of the matter is.....if someone writes a particularly inviting book review, I will immediately request the book from my local library and impatiently await its arrival. I usually know after the first chapter whether this is a book that I want to read in its entirety.

Now....if I am in a bookstore just browsing -- I must admit that I am at first attracted to a book by the title. After that I immediately look at the cover. If both of those make the cut, then I read the summary on the back of the book to decide if it is truly a book for me. If it passes the summary test, then I sit down and read the first chapter. As indicated above, I typically know by the end of the first chapter if this is a book for me.

Do you take notes while reading? Annotate your books? Just read? At the risk of being lampooned again....yes, I do take notes while reading, and I do write in my books (I know....horrors.) Mind you, I never write in a library book, and I rarely write in a book that is purely "fun" reading. I do extensively underline and make notes in books that I consider "literature" and that I think I might re-read.

If I am going to write a book review for a library book, then I tend to use a 3x5 index card as a bookmark. This also serves as a notecard where I can "annotate" as I read -- usually a brief fragment with page number -- so that I have a reference for the blog entry.

What happens when you are done reading? Do you wait to review or write immediately? Do you revisit and revise before posting?What other tasks do you go through after reading a book? Is your blog the only place you post a review? Quite honestly, I SHOULD wait before I post, but I have learned that if I wait too long, I do not write the review. Life seems to be passing me by at lightening speed, and while I would love to truly sit for a few days, digest what I have read, and read other reviews to get perspective --- the truth of the matter is....I need to write the review immediately while it is still fresh on my mind, or I will forget (it must be this midlife stage that I am in).

Currently, I only post my review on my blog. I think my natural writing voice is rather personal and informal, so I am not sure that it would fit a formal review site like Amazon or Barnes and Noble. I do post my rating on Goodreads, but I do not post my review.

Do you keep lists of readings? Catalog genre, page numbers, gender of authors, etc.?What happens to the book when you are done with it? Does it end up i your home library? Go back to a public library? BookMooch? Yes, I do keep an excel spreadsheet of the books I have read, the genre, the number of pages, and my rating. This year I have read and reviewed over 30 library books, so those, obviously, are returned to the library. Two of those books I hope to eventually purchase for my personal library, I loved them so much: The Help by Kathryn Stockett and The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein.

If it is a book that I own and I think that I would like to re-read it (or I think I may know someone who would like to read it), then I keep it. Otherwise, I have a on-going stack of books ready to take to either the library for their annual book sale or a local second hand bookstore.

I must confess that I have not used Book Mooch or Paperback Swap much this year. Perhaps when I have more free time, I would be willing to upload the list of my available books, but as of now, the library donation works best for me.

Overall, if you had to give someone a "How To" list for your dealings with any particular book, what would it look like? I have found that I do have a system for adding books to my TBR pile. It is not yet perfected, but hopefully in 2010 I can work on that.

Currently, I am greatly influenced by my fellow book bloggers and their spot-on recommendations for books. When I read a review of a book that I think I would enjoy, I immediately go to my library website and place a hold. I have learned that I do much better if I can preview the book over 3 weeks in my own home, than I can in trying to preview a book in a local bookstore in under 30 minutes.

After the preview I have a pretty good idea if this is a book that I am probably not interested in reading at this point in time, in which case it is returned to the library; it is a book that I would like to read soon, but just don't have the time, in which case it is added to the TBR excel list; or it is a book that I absolutely must read now, in which case I do before the book is due.

After reading the book I then decide if it is a book that I wish to add to my personal bookshelves (in which case I add it to the TBR excel list to buy) or if it is a book that was a good first read, but will probably not need to be read again (in which case I just return to the library). The area that I need to improve is keeping track of who recommends that book in the first place. By the time I receive the book from the library -- I forget where I read the wonderful review.

Due to finances, I rarely buy books sight-unseen from the bookstore. I simply can't afford it (but.....I am seriously considering changing professions and becoming a bookseller so that I can take advantage of their awesome discount).

So there you have it...my rather-elaborate-but-it-works-for-me book system.

10 comments:

Kerrie said...

This task had lots of bits didn't it Molly. I rarely keep books these days even when I have bought it new. I generally have a heap of library books out that I am juggling, and then when I buy books I hand them on to friends after I have read them

bermudaonion said...

I love your writing style. Maybe it is a little personal, but that's what makes it a joy to read.

Kara said...

I loved this post...it is great getting to know fellow bloggers and their reading habits! I too take a lot of books out of the library...especially recommendations from my reading friends.

Great post.

pussreboots said...

Besides my blog I have a two volume hand written list (in mini diaries) of all the books and short stories I've read since 1987. My post is here.

Sandy Nawrot said...

You seem to have a great system going for you. I don't think there is anything wrong with making impromptu reading decisions based on mood...it just makes you enjoy the reading experience more! I would second Kathy - I like your writing style. It feels like we are chatting over a cup of coffee!

Michelle said...

I'm a mood reader too. I never understood obligated reading. It seems like you are back in school when you do that all the time.

Hagelrat said...

great answers, I read by mood, buy on impulse and review immediately. :)

Margot at Joyfully Retired said...

I liked this post, Molly. It's great to read about your reading style and habits. If we are honest, we probably all read by mood. Some books fit me at certain times and others fit at other times. I think that's normal - and good.

Carl V. said...

"I think the reason why I failed at challenges this year is because I tend to read based on my mood."

I'm definitely in the "mood" category. I base the few challenges I host on the fact that my moods are fairly predictable during a couple of times a year. Even then, the slightest shift in the reading winds can send me off on some whim, well off the path of whatever I was currently reading.

I don't generally keep notes, unless reading a book where I just know that I know that I'll want to include a specific quote in my review, and then I'll make a note of the page number.

Jenners said...

I agree with you ... I can only read so much because I "have to" and then I read based on my mood. (Of course, no one is making me read anything but I do feel like I need to push myself to read books I don't think I'll like sometimes). And I have GOT to get faster at writing my reviews ... I can feel my thoughts on "I Know This Much Is True" slipping away as I type!

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