Booking Through Thursday: Records


Do you keep a list of the books you’ve read? How? In a journal? Through one of the online services? If so, WHY? To keep good records for future reference? To make sure you don’t accidentally reread? If not, why not? Too eager to move on to the next book? Too lazy? Never thought to bother?

What do you think this blog is for? This is my digital reading journal!

I also keep track via Goodreads, because I like being able to sort my reads by date or author with one click, and with a physical reading journal I’ve been keeping since high school. That journal is simply the titles and authors written down; its main purpose is so that I can satisfyingly cross out book titles in black ink. They’re supplements to this blog.

So asking me why I keep good records is really asking me why I blog about books. It’s so I can keep track of what I’ve read, as my memory is atrocious, so I can sharpen my critical teeth by sitting back and examining what worked and didn’t work (incredibly satisfying work!), so I can record my reading of a book at a certain point in time, and so I can reach out to others about books. It’s hard to recommend a book when all you remember is the color of the cover. (Although, as a library volunteer, I am awesome at figuring out book titles based on the slimmest of descriptions. I have a very specific skill set.)

Booking Through Thursday: Being a Reader

I was talking to a co-worker the other day about a book I’d read recently, and realized how very, very few people I can do that with. In my daily life, it seems like almost no-one reads anything more than a newspaper or a fashion magazine. I only have one person I can truly chat about books with … and yet, being a Capital-R-Reader, I simply can’t imagine going through life without a book constantly at hand, or shelves of them proudly displayed downstairs. I’m proud of being a person who not only reads, but who reads a lot–not just in volume but in variety. I like having an inquiring mind. I like exploring new ideas. I love following an intricately plotted story (the more layers the better). I love BEING a reader and simply can’t imagine what it’s like to go through life without being one.

Am I the only one who feels this way? That wonders at how other people can simply NOT do something that should be so essential? Who feels almost sad that so many people seem content to go through their lives without stretching their mental wings at all?

Can you imagine NOT being a Reader? How does it shape your life? Your perception of it?

How does being a Reader affect your relationship with all those folks who are looking at it from the other side and simply can’t understand how you can sit and READ all the time?

I’ll be honest—this question makes me feel uncomfortable. It’s the assumptions here. The assumption that people who only read newspapers or fashion magazines once in a while aren’t “stretching their mental wings”. As a “Capital-R-Reader” who has found no one in real life who can keep up with her reading, I don’t like the idea that because I read more than my friend Elle, I’m smarter than her, even though she’s an amazing scientist. I watched a short documentary in my history class yesterday that reminded us that our culture’s main mode of communication has shifted from print to image recently, and being able to navigate the brave new world of images—as fans have been doing since the sixties, critiquing Star Trek‘s treatment of say, Christine Chapel—is the new wave of critical thinking. That’s where my distinction lies, when it comes to people not “stretching their mental wings”; not how much or how varied you read, but if you look at the world through a critical lens, no matter what, how much, or how little media you consume. I do wish people would read more, of course, and plan to teach my nephew in the ways of the Force, but the fact that I read more than everyone I know doesn’t mean I’m smarter or better than everyone I know.

That said, of course, the courtesy I constantly try to extend to others is rarely extended in return. (Doesn’t mean I don’t keep trying, though!) As I said, I read more than anyone I know, except maybe loudbookishtype, so people sometimes ask me how I find time to read so much and maintain my book blog. But most people think it’s really interesting; I’ve never met anyone who “simply can’t understand how [I] can sit and READ all the time”, to be honest—in short, I’ve never met Gaston. Anyone who says something like that is either someone I don’t want to continue interacting with or making a joke.

And no, I can’t imagine not being a reader. I don’t even remember not being able to read; as much as I joke that I sprang fully formed from the forehead of Ian McKellan at the age of fourteen, I did spring a fully-formed reader into consciousness. I don’t know exactly how reading shapes my life, because I have nothing to compare it to (to steal an early Mighty Boosh joke). Reading and writing are how I interact with the world, how I make sense of it. I like to think that makes me extremely curious and someone very willing to make time for the things she finds important. And my perception of the world? Well, I do tend to novelize in my head…

Booking Through Thursday: Thankful

It’s Thanksgiving here in the U.S., so … what are you thankful for this year, reading-wise? New, favorite books? New gadget for reading? New comfy chair? Bonus time to read? Just the mere fact of BEING a reader? Having the internet to share ideas/recommendations/conversations about books?

This is actually going to be my Sunday Salon post, so I’ll hold off on this until then. But, at this very moment, at my parents’ kitchen table, experimental muffins fresh out of the oven, and my dog trying to be stealthy as he sneaks into the kitchen to beg like a tiny shark, I’m thankful to be home, at rest, and with a kitchen to cook in. Although I would not mind more cupcake liners, as I just ran out. (I am not, however, thankful for the vegan banana bread recipe I just tried. It’s quite bland.)

Booking Through Thursday: Location, Location, Location

What’s your favorite place to read? Do you have more than one? Can you read anywhere, or do you need things to be “just right?”

Bonus points for sharing a photo of your favorite spot.

Well, I can’t give you a photo, as I’ve only been up for eight minutes and my roommate is asleep.

I can read anywhere. It’s a side effect of traveling so much as a kid; you can’t wait for the perfect spot. (Which is actually part of my philosophy on life, come to think of it…) In fact, I used to be able to read in cars, which was incredibly useful, but in my late teens, it began to make me extremely nauseous. But as long as I’m sitting down, I’m pretty much good; with my schedule, I can’t be picky about the moments I snatch to read.

That being said, I do have some favored spots. I love chaise lounges, because I can lie on my side and read. I particularly love being able to sprawl on the floor in a huge patch of sunlight, turning over occasionally like an errant pancake. I read A Clash of Kings like that, and I loved it. I also love reading in bed, especially when it’s cold out and I’m so sleepy that I eventually have to stop reading because my eyes won’t stay open. That’s quite nice.

Booking Through Thursday: Blackout

My apologies for the lack of a question last week–blame Hurricane Sandy and the 5-day power outage that kept me from getting online.

But it leads to today’s question:

1. How do storms affect your reading? Do you go for comfort reading?

2. How do you deal with power outages? Do you read by candlelight? Flashlights? Use a self-lit e-reader or tablet? Skip reading altogether for the duration and instead play games with the family?

I’m very fond of storms—given that I’m inside, warm, and well-blanketed. I feel incredibly cozy. I usually just continue with whatever I’m reading, instead of picking up a certain book for a storm.

In Georgia, we really don’t get a whole lot of weather that knocks out the power grid, to be honest; I’ve only experienced quick blackouts during the night. But I’d probably read by candlelight or on my phone or laptop, as their batteries dwindle to nothing.

Booking Through Thursday: Cover Story Part 2

The flip side of last week’s …

Are there any good books that you read IN SPITE OF the cover and ended up wondering what on earth the artist and publisher were thinking to pair up a cover that so badly represented a perfectly good book?

And … if you didn’t like the cover, what made you pick up the book? The author? Assigned reading from school? A recommendation from a friend?

Like I said last week, I’m used to relying on the public library for my books, so I can’t be too picky about covers. And despite the fact that I’m easily distracted by an attractive cover, I’m also, by virtue of being a speculative fiction fan, used to reading amazing books with mediocre covers. I, in fact, delight in bad covers, much as I delight in bad movies; Good Show, Sir is a website completely devoted to silly fantasy and sci-fi covers, which I love.

That being said, there are two covers that have stuck with me for being off throughout the years. I once completely derailed a discussion about Sabriel because I disagreed with Leo and Diane Dillon about a costuming note on the titular character’s sleeves. The copy of The White Plague I got from the library showed a double helix coursing through the English country, which is just weird.

Booking Through Thursday: Cover Story

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but there’s no question that it can make a difference!

What book(s) have your favorite covers? Something that’s perfect for the story, the tone, the colors, the mood…

And did you pick up the book BECAUSE of the cover? Or were you going to read it anyway, and the cover was just serendipitous?

I am stupidly easy to distract with a beautiful cover. While I can’t be too picky at the moment, as I rely mostly on libraries for my books and get whatever edition they happen to have on hand, it does definitely flavor my reading experience. What I can say? I’m a really visual person.

As far as favorite covers, Alan Lee’s illustrations gracing those enormous copies of The Lord of the Rings are jaw-droppingly beautiful; they focus on monuments in Middle-Earth, giving your imagination a bit of wiggle room. Rock and Roll is Here to Stay has a lovely cover, with the text vertical instead of horizontal and limited color. I’m awful fond of the look of the Penguin Classics—you know, illustration, black box—for anything in the public domain. And the American cover for Mr. Toppit is very arresting.

I have read books solely based on their cover; again, I’m really visual and I didn’t really read as a kid. I specifically remember stumbling across the gorgeous cover to The Gigolo Murder, done by Tomer Hanuka, and snatching up The Kiss Murder because of its cover. A decent read, but nothing really amazing, you know?

Booking Through Thursday: Burn

If your house was burning down and you could save just one book from your collection … what would it be?

(And, for the purposes of this discussion, we’ll allow series to count as “one” long, multi-volume book.)

And Booking Through Thursday returns! I missed it last week.

I’m quite torn. On the one hand, my regular library. On the other hand, my collection of out-of-print American editions of The Lord of the Rings, which will probably go up like nothing else, and I can’t take the whole thing. Hmm. I’ll file that under collectibles and somehow manage to save it.

So! One book from my regular library! It’s a bit cluttered at the moment, as my mother likes to stack things on my bookshelf, but  if I had to grab one book, I think I’d grab my autographed copy of There and Back Again by Sean Astin. Not only did I buy the book from a now defunct Walden Books that I quite liked (being the only bookstore in the mall whenever my mom was shopping), but I also got it signed at one of my first Dragon*Cons, and Astin was an absolute dear to petrified little me. It’s a very particular object to my history. So are a lot of other books in my collection, of course, like my signed copy of Anansi Boys and the books I bought during my trip to Ireland, but that’s the one that goes the furthest back.

So I guess I’d grab that one.

Booking Through Thursday: Carry-On


Do you bring the book(s) you’re reading with you when you go out? How? Physically, or in an e-reader of some kind? Have your habits in this regard changed?

Always. My life, especially right now, is so hectic that I read whenever I can.

At the moment, I usually have a backpack that I put in my personal reading and my academic reading, but over the summer, while I was working (as an unpaid intern, but still), I would always tuck a book into the totebag I brought lunch in. And even when I didn’t have that, I’d usually toss a book in the backseat of my car. I also usually have a public domain novel on my phone, if worse comes to worse, but I do feel better when I’ve got a physical book on me.

Booking Through Thursday: Quick!

Quick–what are you reading right now? (Other than this question on this website, of course.) Would you recommend it? What’s it about?

Luckily I’m a literature student, or this would be a very quick answer indeed.

At the moment, I’m reading Virginia Woolf’s Orlando for pleasure. I’m only a hundred or so pages in and I am enjoying it, but I’m also waiting for Orlando to switch sexes. (I’ve seen the film version with Tilda Swinton, which was… interesting, but I never got it together enough to actually review it for the blog.) For class, I’m reading Iola Leroy, one of the first novels published by an African-American woman, and I do need to start on Beloved Sisters and Loving Friends, a collection of letters between two American women of color in the 1800s, for my history class. I also need to read Misreading Jane Eyre for my senior thesis, which I’m going to do this weekend.  An Old-Fashioned Girl is on the backburner somewhere, but I’ll probably try to finish it when I have a chance, since I’m starting to crave some Sherlock Holmes—I suppose it’s the weather. (Although it turned out quite hot yesterday, which I didn’t appreciate, as I had to walk down to the local music store to fetch a preorder.) I’ve just put the audiobook of Watership Down on hold at the library, so hopefully, that’ll be coming in soon.