I enjoyed reading Cleopatra’s post about reading rituals so much I thought I’d have a go myself.
Do you have a certain place at home for reading?
There’s a big difference between where I do read and where I want to be reading. My favourite reading spot would be outdoors on a warm, sunny day in a place where I can look up and admire the view. It could be a park or a veranda (but definitely not a beach sun lounger) even my garden though the view is rather limited to watching the birds bathe in the fountain. But of course the UK weather doesn’t allow too many days like this and one can’t on holiday all the time…… so where I usually do my reading is tucked up in bed at night. Ever since I was a child I’ve found I absolutely have to read before I go to sleep. Even when I’m feeling dog tired it seems I still have energy for just a few pages.
Bookmark or a random piece of paper?
I’ve bought/acquired dozens of bookmarks but I also like using postcards to mark my place in the book. Remember the days (pre-Internet and smart phones) when you went on holiday and bought postcards to send home telling everyone what a wonderful time you were having? It was a chore to write them and even more of a challenge was finding somewhere you could buy the stamps and then somewhere else to post them. So often I’d come home with them still unsent. I keep finding them dotted around the house so have taken to using them as bookmarks. I also have some cards picked up from galleries and museums. Not only are they practical (i.e. cheap) but whenever I pick up the book I get to recall that trip from many years ago. Since I keep losing them just as fast as I find them, there are times when I’ll use anything that is close at hand. Parking tickets, receipts, clothes price tags – you name it, at some time I’ve pressed them all into service. And of course in absolute desperation, there is always (dare I say this??) the ability to turn down the corner.
Can you stop reading any time, or do you have to stop in a certain place?
I don’t like stopping mid way through a chapter or a section so novels which don’t have divisions are always frustrating. I can never find my place again easily with those kinds of books.
Do you eat or drink while reading?
Nothing very exciting here – very occasionally I’ll indulge in a few toffees (not when I’m reading in bed of course) but I’ve learned the hard way that its impossible to hold an ice-cream in one hand and an open book in the other. They have a terrible habit of getting too close together and making a mess.
Can you read while listening to music/watching TV?
Absolutely not. I can multi-task many things but reading isn’t one of them. If there is a noisy tv in the background I’ll don my noise cancelling headphones to block it out.
One book at a time or several at once?
I never used to read more than one book at a time but that’s changed in the last couple of years largely because of e-readers. Before these became available, whenever I went on holiday or a business trip I’d be loaded down with books to read; always taking more than realistically I would have time to get through but anxious in case I’d finish them and not find anywhere selling English language titles. E-readers relieve that burden of course but I can’t wean myself away from physical books. So now I take a mixture. I take the e-reader out with me because it’s lighter and read my physical book when I get back to the hotel room.
Reading out loud or silently in your head?
I’m absolutely hopeless at doing accents so my attempts to read out loud would not do justice to any of the dialogue. I’ll just pretend in my head that it sounds right.
Do you read ahead and skip pages?
Only if the book is not grabbing me and I want to see if it’s worth investing any more of my time. I used to plough on with these kinds of books in the past, thinking that surely it would get better. But that seldom happened. I’ve decided to discard my hairshirt approach and to read only what I enjoy or can appreciate.
Break the spine or keep it new?
It seems that some readers view cracked spines as a despoliation of their book. It bothers me not in the least, I like seeing creases in my books. They’re the equivalent of wrinkles and laughter lines on someone’s face. The more creases I see the more its clear the book has meant something special since clearly I’ve read it more than once.
Do you write in books?
In books I’m reading for study purposes then yes (providing of course I have my own copy). I still have copies of my old university texts with minute scribbles in the margins that are barely decipherable. It’s an odd feeling to come across those; like meeting yourself in a former life. But I don’t make notes books I read for pleasure; not because I think it would me sacrilege to do so but as I explained in a post on this earlier in the year, simply because it would just interrupt the flow of reading.
Those are my confessions and secrets. Now how about hearing from you. Any secrets you care to share?