Friday, June 21, 2013

Bad Bookish Habits

Over the my years of reading, most specifically since becoming a lit major in college, I've developed some bad bookish habits.  Some were more or less benign (piling books on the floor), others were stupid (being a book snob), but one in particular stood in the way of me and my reading--the affliction of flitting from book to book.  I've complained about it numerous times before, most often over at my personal blog.


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Basically, the issue was that I'd pick up Book A and spend all day reading away, often reading over 100 pages of the volume.  Somewhere along the way, I'd begin thinking about Book B...to the point where I just couldn't stand it anymore and I HAD to pick up Book B, even though I was perfectly happy with Book A.  So I'd spend some time with Book B, maybe a day, maybe three days, or maybe a couple of chapters, before Book C came to my attention.  Occasionally, I'd be able to juggle a couple of books at once, but until one of them grabbed me hook, line, and sinker, I really didn't finish anything.  Which was such a shame because during this period of utter promiscuity, which has lasted a good five years, I kept buying books (my other bad bookish habit).  Not a couple here and there.  But a few each month.  Sometimes more.

And what's the point of owning all of these amazing books if I never finish any of them?  I don't want to be one of those people who ultimately uses books purely as decoration and hasn't actually read anything.  I'm not Jay Gatsby!

After one particularly frustrating afternoon in which I yet again abandoned a book I was enjoying just fine, I finally decided I needed help.  I think it was seeing so many people write all of these amazing reviews for the Classics Club, to which I belong, but haven't made many contributions in the review department because I haven't actually finished more than one of the books on my extremely long list...

I went to my normal avenues of help--a reader/book blogger that I admire and my boyfriend, who is quite well-read.  Their advice was to pick a book that I would finish.  The reader/book blogger recommended trying one of the shorter classics on my list.  Zach--knowing my appreciation for straight-forwardness--said to just pick a book and freaking stick with it regardless of how much I wanted to pick up something else.  But how to do that?  Wouldn't that make reading a chore?

Then it hit me--re-read a favorite novel.  So I chose The Grapes of Wrath.  I had been jonesing for a re-read because this was around the time that Oklahoma got hit by all of the tornadoes and I began thinking about the other time our state became a bit of a disaster area, but the people were strong and resilient.  So I began reading.

And I kept reading that book.  Maybe not every day.  I mean, if you feel obligated to read, are you really getting the most out of it?  My track record with assigned reading in high school and college says no.  And maybe there were a couple of books that I dallied with for a day or so.  But I always made sure to remind myself to come back to Grapes.  Until I really didn't have to remind myself--I knew I would come back and finish it.  I craved the book, but sometimes needs a little break. 

Tonight I plan to finally finish the novel.  I have absolutely loved my re-reading experience (but you'll have to go to my blog for the review).  Yes, it's taken me a month to read this novel.  The first time I read it in a few days, but I think I missed a lot.  And, let's remember, I'm trying to rehabilitate myself to being a monogamous reader.

I wouldn't say that I'm cured yet.  But if I can make it through a 450 page novel, I feel like I can make it through another novel that is probably shorter, but maybe longer, and another, and another, and another, until I really am just reading one book at a time.

Maybe two.  I am only human after all.

Do you have any bookish bad habits that you've broken?  What about advice for how to break bookish bad habits?

14 comments :

  1. That sounds so much like me. I always jump between like four books and half the time I can't remember what's happening in the first book by the time I get back to it.

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  2. I don't know that it's a BAD habit, but I'm SO glad I broke myself of the habit of NEEDING to finish every book I start. I'm a much happier reader now that I can DNF a book I'm not into... AND I'm more likely to take a chance and broaden my literary horizons, now that I've given myself permission to set it aside if it's really not for me.

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    1. AGREED. I still struggle to put a bad book down sometimes, but it is getting easier.

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  3. Ha! I liked how you said you weren't cured yet! Made my day! Anyway, I used to have a bad habit like that, but then it just sort of went a way. I wish I could say how I broke the habit, but I can't remember how. I'm positive, though, that you'll break your bad bookish habit!

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  4. Jeez. That sounds exactly like me. Apparently I'm reading 8 books right now...according to Goodreads anyway xD
    Jackie

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  5. I also read several books at once, but I'm fairly good at switching back and forth and keeping the stories separated in my mind (although I can't read 3 or more of the same kind of book, they have to be different genres). They also tend to be in different forms- kindle, audio, physical. However, sometimes it takes forever for me to finish a book because that grab me moment doesn't happen as quickly as I expect it to. I don't know if I could be a one woman book reader... I'd at least have to have an audio on the side for my commute to work!

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  6. I've never, ever been able to read more than one book at a time. That sounds like a good thing, until you realise that picking up a bad book that you have trouble getting through makes reading time turn into hell until you manage to slog through it. Sometimes it can't be a bad thing to read more than one book at a time!

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  7. My worst habit concerning books probably is buying several books at a time. I get pretty excited about my buy but usually finish only one out of the bunch. Right after that the next shopping spree beginns. I already have a huge stack of books to be read, but the longer they sit on my shelf the lesser motivated I am to finally read them.
    Recently though I've been a real good girl with buying only one book at a time - and I finished all of them right away :)

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  8. I always read two books at a time - one physical book and one Kindle book. Because I get so many to review, I have to read two at a time. Unfortunately, I'm also guilty of not finishing books. Eat Pray Love, for example. It's been sitting on the shelf, fifty or so pages read, for at least a year now. Ditto Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales. I know if I just sit down and make a point to read them, I can finish them. I read a hundred pages of The Time Traveler's Wife before I got bored and set it aside.

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  9. My bad habit is that when I read a book that is part of a series, I am obsessed and must read the complete series before I move on to another book. This is so not good as a look of the books I read are part of a series! Needless to say, my TBR pile is growing by leaps and bounds! Not to mention the books that I have downloaded on my Kindle! Think I need to go to Book Readers Anonymous for some serious therapy!

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  10. I do the same darn thing. I read and enjoy but start thinking about the other bajillion books i have, then read a few reviews...then I try the next book. I can't finish anything until one of them grabs me and I can't put it down OR i have so many half started books it stresses me out so I finally stick with one to "cross it off the list" lol

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  11. I book hop a lot lately too. I think I have two dailylit.org books coming to me at my work email, one book on my ereader that I'm actually getting into, one on my ereader that I started a month ago and two books with bookmarks dangling from the pages just taunting me. I have no idea what I can't just finish a book sometimes. I think I might just make myself sit down and finish one of them soon. *sigh*

    Congrats on getting back into finishing books!

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  12. Oh, bad book habits... I have a bunch, I'm sure! My worst is definitely buying more books than I can read. I work in a bookstore, so I always see new books as soon as they come out and it's just SO hard to resist!! I'm currently trying to put an end to that until I get through a good chunk of my unread books. But you know, I feel like these "bad book habits" are just what make us such great book junkies :)

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  13. I'm pretty good about finishing books but I am having trouble organizing all my books-I have multiple piles of books that need to be read and reviewed. One of my goals for the second half of 2013 is to go through all my shelves and honestly assess whether or not I really want a particular book (and donate it to the library or host a giveaway if I don't.)

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