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Category Archives: Reading Habits

New Reading Year- Looking Ahead 2018

I’m pretty excited about the new year and what lies ahead, especially in the area of reading!  I’ve been feeling pretty psyched since I wound up 2017 with more books read than expected, and I’m off to a good start already.  I’ve already finished one book, I have another half read, and another one awaits me at the library after coming in on the interlibrary loan system.

This year my reading resolution is simple: read 24 books (2 books per month).  I’m pretty sure I can accomplish that one.  To some that may not seem very ambitious but it is a challenging, yet doable number for me.  Especially considering I have some other major projects in the works this year.

I have made up my usual reading list for this year, and can’t wait to start on it.  I wrote in a post a long time ago how I do this the week after Christmas.  However, I’m also trying something a little different.  I joined a reading challenge group on goodreads!  I’ve been mulling over joining one for a while and perused several before making up my mind to join The Seasonal Reading Challenge.  This group appealed to me for several reasons.  For one, I liked the idea that it is seasonal and goes by themes.  There many different tasks of varying difficulties and allows for a broad range of reading.  So, I made up a second reading list (did I say I love lists?) planning out titles to read that qualify under the challenges required, only it basically incorporates most of the books from my first list that I’d been planning on reading anyway.  I’m not sure how I will like this change.  You may laugh, but I’m very serious about my lists and what order I read books in.  I love rules, but only the ones I make up for myself.  Ha!  So we’ll see how I do with a reading group.

I will strive to get my reviews ‘caught up’ this year.  This is actually a little relative in my definition of being caught up.  Ever since the start of this blog I have posted reviews at least a year after having read the book and this is because the margin gives me a feeling of distance and control.  It also gives me the ability to change certain comments I make so that I don’t end up writing something I will regret later.  Of course, I sometimes still do regret things I’ve written.  But time to go back much later with hindsight is better for me.  So my goal is to ‘get caught up’ to within a year’s past reviews, if that makes any sense.

I would like to start up my ‘Character Reflections Series’ again; I miss writing them!  Also, I have had an idea for years that I would like to start adding music somehow to my blog, but have not quite figured out how to do it in a way that is not annoying.  I’ve been looking into it and playing around, so don’t be surprised if you find that appearing on booklearned!

Do you have any different reading goals this year?  Share below!

 

 

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Posted by on January 7, 2018 in Reading Habits

 

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Mid Year Reading Goals

Although it may seem like I’ve been getting into a blogging rut of recent months, I’m actually pretty proud of myself for keeping on and not quitting.  I don’t want to quit even if things have been busy and hectic sometimes.

And I still have new blogging goals.  Some I will not be making public yet for a while with them, and others I will start during now during the mid year.  This revamping is not so much a revamp of the blog, as it is of my reading routines, but the routines will be showing a little difference here on the blog.

So, without further ado, I unmask my newest reading goal, and that is to join The Classics Club.  This is where I make a list of 50+ classics I plan on reading at least within the next five years and blog about them, then link them to The Classics Club blog.  I have decided to do this because 1) the goal was doable; 2) I read classics anyway; 3) I’ve discovered some really lovely book blogs out there that I didn’t know existed through TCC; 4) I would love to meet and interact with some other like-minded book lovers out there!

Below I will be sharing my curated list of classics I plan on reading.  Let it be known that I am using the word ‘classic’ loosely to suit my own tastes, which tend to be a lot of vintage dime thrillers.  I still have no desire to jump into War and Peace.   But I believe that if a book is an oldie and has at least stood the test of time well enough for me to have an interest in reading it, it must be a classic, right?  I also have many children’s classics, but that was in no way meant to cheat.  I appreciate any good story!  And lest anyone shouts my list is ‘No fair!”, I will refer you to the several below that are more ‘serious’ works of literature.  I avoided repeating authors or books from the same series in order to keep the variety.

The list may be subject to change:

Main 50 Classics Club List:

The Blue Castle, by L. M. Montgomery

The Borrowers Afield, by Mary Norton

Miss Billy, by Eleanor H. Porter

The Seven Conundrums, by E. Phillips Oppenheim

Return to Gone-Away, by Elizabeth Enright

The Cloister and the Hearth, by Charles Reade

The Brass Bottle, by F. Anstey

The Shaving of Shagpat, by George Meredith

The Film Mystery, by Arthur B. Reeve

The Phoenix and the Carpet, by Edith Nesbit

The Flaming Forest, by James Oliver Curwood

Captain Blood Returns, by Rafael Sabatini

King Solomon’s Mines, by H. Rider Haggard

Dead Men’s Money, by J. S. Fletcher

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Doctor Thorne, by Anthony Trollope

John Jago’s Ghost, by Wilkie Collins

The Passenger from Calais, by Arthur Griffiths

The Rosary, by Florence L. Barclay

Arsene Lupin, Gentleman-Thief, by Maurice LeBlanc

The Amazing Interlude, by Mary Roberts Rinehart

Alice in Blunderland, by John Kendrick Bangs

At the Appointed Time, by Anna Maynard Barbour

Wired Love, by Ella Cheever Thayer

The Heart’s Kingdom, by Maria Thompson Davies

Basil Howe, by G. K. Chesterton

Gormenghast, by Mervyn Peake

The Fisherman’s Lady, by George MacDonald

The Maid of Sker, by R. D. Blackmore

Miss Cayley’s Adventures, by Grant Allen

Down the Garden Path, by Beverley Nichols

The Willows, by Algernon Blackwood

The Mystery of the Blue Train, by Agatha Christie

Mr. Harrison’s Confessions, by Elizabeth Gaskell

The Man Who Lost Himself, by H. de Vere Stacpoole

The Laughing Cavalier, by Baroness Emmuska Orczy

The Green Rust, by Edgar Wallace

A Fair Barbarian, by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Bronte

Villette, by Charlotte Bronte

The New Chronicles of Rebecca, by Kate Douglas Wiggin

The Blessing of Pan, by Lord Dunsany

The Palace in the Garden, by Mary Louisa Molesworth

A Spinner in the Sun, by Myrtle Reed

Trent’s Last Case, by E. C. Bentley

The Forsaken Inn, by Anna Katharine Green

Paradise Lost, by James Milton

Nothing So Strange, by James Hilton

Love Insurance, by Earl derr Biggers

The Book of the Dun Cow, by Walter Wangerin, Jr.

 

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2017 in Reading Habits

 

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Do you read long books?

Do you read long books? I confess that I tend to shy away from them.  I think it just seems like too big a commitment for me.  I prefer variety or else I get bored, and tackling a 400+ page novel leaves me exhausting just thinking about it.

It’s ironic but I think I had more patience when I was younger (teenage years). I had more time and I attempted just about any classic in the quest to say I’d read them all.  My tastes and goals have changed over the years.  But some of the longer fictional books I have accomplished in the past include “Little Women (age 12); “Ivanhoe” (which I converted into a 75 page play for my sister and myself); and more recently, “Titus Groan,” by Mervyn Peake.  There are a few others on my TBR that I don’t know when I’ll get to.  “The Maid of Sker,” by Richard D. Blackmore, “The Cloister and the Hearth,” by Charles Reade, and “Glastonbury,” by Donna Fletcher Crowe.

I think some of the reasons why I often shy away from the longer tomes these days is because I don’t feel I have the emotional or mental energy to undertake it. A couple of years ago I ordered a book on interlibrary loan, and then promptly sent it back upon seeing how thick the book and how tiny the print was.  I was going through a rough time and needed something lighter and faster paced.  Recently I also passed on an Edward Rutherfurd novel, when 15 years ago I probably would have checked it out.  Another plausible theory could be due to the fact that I have more eyestrain than I used to and it taints my desire for long, involved reads.

When searching out new additions for my TBR on goodreads, I try to thoughtfully evaluate whether I will realistically want to read a particular title or if I would just feel burdened and dread opening the cover. That sounds sort of funny now that I have that typed down.  Why would I want to read anything I’d dread?  Am I such a glutton for self-torture?  I want to read good, meaty, beneficial books.  But the word and page count of a book does not necessarily make it beneficial.  A proverb can be more wisely read than a full assortment of “Grey” romance.

Yet some of the world’s best epics have been told through long-drawn out prose. (Those French and Russian novels for instance…)  But usually their stories are too familiar told through other mediums for me to care to devote so much time to reading.  Maybe one day my interests will change again and I’ll be a reader of “Moby Dick” but I’m not so much a fan of whale blubber right now.

What does constitute me attempting a big fiction book? Just like any other book, it is usually a creative plotline and the adventure that draws me in.  If it has my attention in these areas, I can perhaps forget I’ve spent the last 3 months in this world.  It’s what kept me going through “Titus Groan”, and is what has me interested in someday trying “Shogun,” by James Clavell.

I came to ponder all of this after reading this article entitled “Never Ending Stories.”

What about you? If you’re a reader of long tales, what attracts you to them?

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2017 in Reading Habits, Uncategorized

 

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Q: How Much Do You Read at a Time?

d8f0759d4e55f98655a9919f46a67346I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!

I have a question: How much do you read at a time?

Some people will sit down and devour a whole novel in one sitting because they are so absorbed in it. But, most of us do not have this luxury even if we wished hard for it.  After all, we are busy living our own stories as well!  So just how does a person go about deciding how much to read at a given time?

There really is no right or wrong way to answer this. Even the above example of reading a book in a day is not ‘wrong’, although there are some studies that show a person will not retain as much of what they read if they do not take some breaks or time away from it.  I find this true for me, yet at the same time can also struggle to remember what happened when I take too much time away from break to break.

A lot usually depends on the free time a person has. Actually, I really shouldn’t write ‘free time’, as what time in this world is really free?  Time is more like an investment.  How much time can you afford to invest in reading a particular book?  As some books are light entertainment and others are more like brain exercise, the answer to this question might vary from book to book.

My goal this year had been to read four books a month, whether fiction or non-fiction. As it turns out, I had way too much on my plate for this to become a reality.  I have been lucky if I’ve accomplished reading 2 pages a night!  (I will have to analyze this dilemma further and figure out how to remedy it in the coming year, but more on that later.)  My goal is at least a couple of pages every day if I can’t make it more.  But the point is to not quit reading, no matter how slow it is taking me!

Sometimes when I am reading, I will decide on how much to read at one sitting by how long the chapters are, or the length of sections within a chapter. Sometimes I will be reading in the middle of a dialogue among characters, knowing I have to soon break off to go do something else or go to bed, but not wanting to end it in the middle of the verbal action.  I hate breaking things off like that, and it’s also hard to pick it back up and get in the swing of things later on.  So I usually read to the end of the conversation and break off at a scene change or during lots of narration.

Obviously, the more one can read at a time, the quicker the book will be finished and one can anticipate the next story. People are different in how they like to read, whether they love to slowly savor an interesting book, or prefer to quickly find out what happens next.  How do you like to read?

 

 

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2015 in Reading Habits

 

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A Book-Lover’s, List-Lover’s Guide to Reading

092fb74f214d7c8e89cd99e42c20a135I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving!  Now we’re headed on for the end of the year and facing a new one to come.  Christmas hasn’t arrived yet, but this is about the time I start thinking about what sort of goals I want to set for myself in the new year to come.  Do I meet all of my resolutions?  No, but at least I can say that I think I improve in certain areas over the course of the following 12 months.

One of the things I look forward to near the end of the year is making my To-Read fiction list.  This is where I sit down and peruse my notebook full of titles of fiction, curating a list of which ones I will aim to conquer reading next year.  This event is a much-anticipated one, since it appeals to the list-lover in me!  It also gets me excited about all the new stories I will be encountering, and gets me motivated to start over and accomplish my goals.

I’ve never been one to just go to the library and randomly pick out whichever fiction book appeals to me at the moment and come home with a stack.  There’s nothing wrong with doing that, but it’s just not me.  I like to plan, scheme, aim, look forward to, time, get excited about, wait, then read.  This makes for more of an experience!

You can make your own list however you like.  But for fun, I’ll share with you the system I’ve developed for myself over time and how I make it work for me:

First I sit down with my To-Read notebook (read article about it here). Starting with Page 1, I go through in order and write down any books I’ve still yet to read until I’ve made a list of 72 titles.  That’s right, 72.  Will I get all of those read?  Goodness, no!  That’s too ambitious for me as I’m no speed reader, but you’ll see why I choose that many in moment.

I may look up some of the titles on goodreads (or even create my list on there to begin with) to refresh my memory on what some of books are about and re-decide if it’s really one I want to read after all.  Some of these titles have been in my notebook ever since I was a teenager and my tastes have somewhat changed over the years.

04e164c7976a0e339d6d28ba4037a590I never write down a book by more than one author for a given year.  I like to have as much variety as possible.  Gorging too much on one author’s particular style would become boring to me.  So I skip a title in my notebook if it’s a repeat-author.

If I come across a list of books in a particular series, I’ll write down the first title, but skip the rest of the books and save those for other years.  Some may not like to do this because by the time they get around to #2, they may find they’ve forgotten what #1 was about.  But I don’t really worry about this for myself.  (I can always go back and read my book reviews on this blog, after all!)  If I have already read some of the books in the series in the past, then I just go with the next in chronological order.

Once I have my list of 72, I then make out a list on a different sheet of paper that looks like this:

January:

A-1)

2)

3)

B-1)

2)

3)

…and so on for the rest of the 12 months.  Again, in reality I cannot finish 6 fiction books in one month, but are you still with me?  Next, I reassign my 72 titles to my new list, choosing which month to put them under according to what season I think I would most like to read it in (you can read my article on this topic here).

The letter A stands for the first half of every month (for ex., Jan. 1-15).  B, obviously stands for the latter half (16-31).  Since most of the books I read are titles I want in particular, my small local library usually doesn’t have them in its collection.  This is why I utilize the interlibrary loan system so frequently.  Unfortunately, I have to wait for a while, usually 1-2 weeks after I’ve place an order in the state library system, so I plan to order it in advance of immediately needing it.  When do I do this?  I estimate that about the time I’ve reached the halfway marker in my current fiction novel, I will need to order the next one on my list to give it time to arrive.  That way I’m not in agony after I’ve finished one book, waiting for the next.

This is where my special system comes in handy!  When it’s time to choose which book to order/check out next, I reference my list.  What time of year is it currently?  Let’s say I’m ordering a book now, which makes it November B on my list.  I start with B#1, which is: “Arsene Lupin, Gentleman Thief,” by Maurice le Blanc.  Oh, fun!  Now I can order it.

37fc069d582f189150a859fffcb1d386Usually this book will keep me preoccupied for abt. 2 weeks, unless I’m being particularly slow-pokey.  The next time I’ll be ordering a book from my list will probably be when it’s December A (which would be: “Nightbringer,” by James Byron Huggins) .  But let’s say Arsene Lupin was a fast read and it’s time to order my next book and it’s still November B.  That’s when I look up Nov. B#2, which is: “I Will Plant You a Lilac Tree,” by Laura Hillman.  But wait.  What if it’s unavailable in the system for whatever reason?  Not to worry, I’ve prepared for this.  I just go on to Nov. B#3: “The Amazing Interlude,” by Mary Roberts Rinehart.

See?  It all makes complete sense now, I hope!  For list-makers, this process is a joy that will probably take an afternoon and we will savor it the whole long while.  For others who like to live more randomly, they will probably have given up on this blogpost a long time ago and are nursing a headache.  🙂

What are some of your methods for determining what to read?  Share them with me, I’d love to know!

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2015 in Reading Habits

 

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Slowing Down

http://www.flickr.com/photos/rock-you/4426153359/sizes/l/in/photostreamSome people are speed readers. I am not one of those people. Some people can read a whole novel in a day. The last time I accomplished this was when I was 12 years old on a summer afternoon reading a Nancy Drew mystery. I do everything slowly. I guess everyone has their natural pace. I like to do one thing at a time in an unhurried manner, and dislike multitasking. In fact, I actually take longer when I try to hurry! When it comes to reading, I generally prefer to take my time through a book, thinking, copying out quotes, and of course reading out loud and doing all the voices to involve myself more in the story.

I remember watching an infomercial on tv when I was young, where this “mr. amazing man” could skim read through a whole chapter in about 1 min. and then relate to the host what it was about.  (For the record, I didn’t really believe him.)  If you bought their course for a certain price, they could teach all students the skills they needed to skim any book and it would change their life FOREVER!  When I was middle school, I had a friend who read voraciously.  One time she checked “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” out of the school library and read that 629 page-book (I know, because I looked) between classes, in 3 days.  Maybe this feat is easy as pie to some folks, but I remember wondering if she really understood what she was reading. I also know a friend who admits she skips over the ‘boring narrative’ just to get to the action and dialogue scenes.

I wonder why it’s tempting to read so fast. I guess when you think about it, our culture is increasingly fast paced in everything we do, so why would our reading habits escape this speed? We could also consider our general attitude of instant gratification and the fact that we’re not used to having to wait for much in life. Texting’s quicker than calling. Microwave popcorn. EZ Pass. Instant mashed potatoes. And so when we sit down to read, we can’t wait to see what happens. Many readers don’t have the patience to persevere through parts that don’t meet their immediate interests.  What a long way we’ve come from books being published in serial form in magazines some 100 years ago!  Some people even flip to the back of the book to see what happens first and read the story backwards! Another reason for skim reading could be that we are so goal driven that the more books we can add to our list of accomplishments the better. It ceases to be about stories and becomes more list oriented.

Good books are not meant to be inhaled. If you’re a writer, do you want your readers to skim their way through what you put your heart and soul into? It’s like putting the mind on auto-numb when we read like this. There are emotions to be felt, words to be appreciated, atmosphere to be sensed, ideas to process, and characters to get to know over time.

I think there can be exceptions to the rule.  For example, sometimes I don’t want to commit myself to a particular book for whatever reason, but I’m curious to see what happened in the end, so I’ll flip to the back.  There are also times when I feel a certain scene gets a little too steamy for my taste (yes, sometimes even in some Christian fiction books), and I decide it’s in my best interest to skip over it.  And of course, there are always those fun exceptions when we get ahold of a book that’s so hard to put down and we spend half the night reading away. Sometimes, that is almost half the fun of the experience of reading. But for the most part, those times are rare and I don’t think it’s healthy to read habitually like this. My point is that the story may not be enjoyed as in-depth as it could be when it’s sped through.

c2f0c1515f097261aeb38d617f9cbd9cI once read that chapter breaks and breaks within chapters are partly designed to make the reader pause more often in a book. Something about the brain retains the beginnings and endings of what they read, so the idea is that the more breaking off a reader does, the more they remember. I think this is true for me. I find that the books I read more quickly are the more quickly forgotten.

Are you generally a speed reader who would like to learn to slow down a little? Here are some ways to think about taking your time through a book:

1) Back off of the goals. It’s fine to set reading goals, but if this is your main objective you might not be enjoying the process of reading like you could be. Just take one book at a time.

2) Read out loud. I know I harp on this aspect of reading a lot (that’s part of the point of my blog actually, if you haven’t noticed!). But it causes you to hear the words you’re reading aloud. You can appreciate the author’s choice of language strung together better. You feel the words forming out of your mouth. Reading becomes an art form. It slows you down and elminates skim reading.

3) Be on the lookout for good quotes to copy out. You’ll be searching for gems, discerning what’s inspiring enough to be quote-worthy.

4) Try limiting your reading to one chapter a day. Or one hour a day. Or a specific time in the day. Even when you break off at a really intriguing part in the book, make yourself wait until the next day to see what happens next. This will cause you to think about the character and the story in-between times and you’ll be wondering what happens next. That is a good feeling and it means it’s a good book! The best part of a book is the “To Be Continued…” part. Enjoy the feeling of suspense!

5) And for goodness sake, don’t skip! Yes, sometimes even reading can be hard work, but if it’s a good book it has it’s benefits. Persevere! Read the book the way it was intended. This means from front to back. In chronological order. Every paragraph.  Every sentence. I

f you’re naturally a speed reader, what are some reasons you like to read this way?  Are there any tips you’ve learned to slow down?

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2014 in Reading Habits

 

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Doing a Little Weeding

f393c93cdfd4b97d7d5449b9851584eaHi! I thought I’d write a little post concerning what’s going on in my reading world lately…

I recently filled an entire composition notebook with titles of fiction books I want to read someday. (I should probably clarify and say that each title and series are separated by at least 2 lines to keep it looking orderly, so not every line is filled.) I started keeping a notebook when I was about 15, and have graduated to bigger and bigger notebooks, but each time I was transferring the same titles and discarding the old one. I’ve debated on what to do now that I have one whole notebook full and don’t want to go to a larger, spiral-bound. I guess I’ll have to go to 2 notebooks (besides my third non-fiction one), but I don’t really relish the idea of so many notebooks! So, the jury’s still out on that for now.

I used to think that I had to read every book by every classic author I liked (Frances Hodgson Burnett, Eleanor H. Porter, Alexandre Dumas).  I think this is because I wanted to be able to say, “‘The Memoirs of a Physician?’  Oh, yes.  I’ve read that…” and sound really intellectual and know-it-all.  The lists of their complete works took up a lot of space in my notebook. Eventually I realized that I don’t have anything to prove, and that I may not actually be interested in everything anyway. There’s nothing that will kill the spirit of reading quicker than reading something you’re completely uninterested in. So I decided to do a little weeding. I went through my titles and if I couldn’t remember what a book was about, or came across one of those “Complete Works of E. Phillips Oppenheim” -type lists, I looked up the titles on the internet (like goodreads; Fantastic Fiction; wikipedia; amazon, etc.). I read plot summaries and reader reviews, and if it just seemed like something I wouldn’t be thrilled to read, I crossed it out. Also, if I couldn’t find a plot summary at all, I crossed them out. I decided if I didn’t know what a book was about in the first place, there was no reason why I should include it in my list.

I saved a LOT of room this way! Of course, now that room is taken up with other books, but at least they’re books I want to read instead of books I feel I have to read. I have no time or desire to invest in doing that anymore; there are other books I’d rather read and time’s short enough as it is.

Tastes change over time. I’m glad to see I don’t necessarily want to read the same books as when I was 15. It shows me I’ve grown at least somewhat in my reading habits!

 

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2014 in Reading Habits, Uncategorized

 

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