Friday, May 23, 2014

Personal Reading Rules

My apologies for the lateness of this post!  The wifi at work wouldn't connect to my laptop, then I had some things to do once I got home from work.  But all of this allowed me some extra time to think about my post for today--personal reading rules.  Well, they're more like guidelines rather than actual rules...

You know you have them.  A set of rules, guidelines, ideals, whatever you want to call them that you try to adhere to when you are reading.  Here are some of mine:

1.  You don't have time to read everything.  So don't try to read everything.  You're going to have to make some choices.  Maybe just aim for the highlights of whatever kind of book you like and read the entire offerings of only a few authors.  Yes, you might miss out on some things, but if you're smart about it you can have a lifetime of reading books that interest you.

2.  You won't like everything...  I am really dealing with this one right now.  I am reading Ulysses by James Joyce.  It's reminding me of being a lit major--someone showing off how smart they are just because they can.  It's really difficult and I don't really like it.  But that's OK.  I don't have to like everything.  Even if all of my friends loved it.  If they are really my friends, they'll love me anyway.

3.  ...But sometimes it's worth it to push through.  Some books wind up redeeming themselves if you can just push past that icky part.  Or you might just really want to read a particular book (see my experiences with James Joyce) in spite of not liking it, so you push through to the end.  You still might not like the book, but you can at least appreciate the experience and the work that went into it.  I am hoping that this will be the case with Ulysses.

4.  It's OK to not finish some books.  I DNF a lot of books.  I have even gone through my bookshelves and gotten rid of books I've never even picked up.  I decided that I just didn't want to read that book, so why bother keeping it?  I can make space for more books.

5.  Sometimes it's just not the right time to read a book.  I don't know how many times I've set aside a book I haven't really been into, but picked it up later and loved it.  A notable example of this for me was Anna Karenina.  I don't know how many times I started reading that book.  So many times that I was able to skim the first 100 or so pages because I had read them many times.  But I finally finished the book and I got really involved in it.  I think that a couple of nights of locking myself in my room and refusing supper were involved because I just had to finish!

6.  Some books are meant to be binge-read.  I first read East of Eden the summer before I started grad school.  It's a pretty big book.  I read the entire thing in four days.  I recently decided to pick it up again and go back and savor the book, pick up the details I missed last time because I read it so quickly.  I read 140 pages in one evening, which for me is quite a bit.  Since that day, I have tried reading a few pages before going to bed.  No dice.  Apparently, I can only read this book in large chunks.

7.  There will always be another book.  My TBR list and pile are obscenely big.  But that's great because I always have a lot of choices when it comes to picking a new book to read.  Even if I am ever able to get through most of my TBR pile, one book always introduces me to another book or author and one conversation with a bookish person always gives me another book or author to explore.  I don't have to worry about this activity going away or no longer working.  I can keep going.  Wonderful!

What about you guys?  What are some of your personal reading rules?


  1. I hated Ulysses and ended up putting it down. It's strange how you feel almost guilty about it or even ashamed, as if you don't like it because you don't get it and you would get it if you were smart. Yeah. I still put it down.

  2. My main rule is I don't start a new book unless I have a block of time of at least an hour to an hour and a half.That gives me enough time to get stuck into it well and truly so when I go back to it again I remember what I read. If I start a book with just 20 to 30 minutes I sometimes forget what I read if it's a tough one to get into. Enjoyed your guidelines. Made a lot of sense.

  3. Most of these are exactly the same as the rules I've developed for myself over time! I still struggle with the fact that I can't read everything and that if I'm not liking it, I am allowed to put it down and walk away.

  4. I don't have many rules other than something along the lines of your 4th rule. If a book hasn't grabbed me by about page 100 then I figure it isn't going to so I stop reading. Sometimes I don't get even as far as that and stop at page 80 or so. My other rule is that I don't have to read something just because everyone else seems to be reading it.

  5. This is a great list! I have always been the person that has to finish every book I start…my personal goal right now is to get over this! It's not worth the time - too much great stuff out there to waste time on books you don't like! Although, if a book is getting a lot of buzz or great reviews, I will finish it even if I don't like it so that I can write about it.

  6. Great list! I agree with a lot of your rules. One I have that isn't on your list is "It's OK to peek at the ending." OK, not in a mystery. I don't want to know whodunnit ahead of time. But for other genres, looking at the ending or dipping into the middle can be part of my decision-making process... because of another of my rules, which is "Don't read stuff that's not good for me emotionally." I struggled with anxiety for years, and sometimes it comes back. I'd rather stay balanced, so I avoid books that I can tell are going to be too negative or chilling for me -- like horror.

  7. This is great! I am having such trouble dealing with "You won't read all the books" right now. Overwhelming TBR pile right now, but I just can't get rid of them. Not yet. Maybe I will one day.

    I also DNF a lot of books. Why waste time reading something I don't like? But then again, I worry I may have missed out on something great because I couldn't stick to it.

  8. I agree with many of these things on your list. I'm not going to force myself to read a book that I'm not enjoying. It is ok to DNF some books and just accept that everyone has different tastes in books and that this one wasn't for you. Reading is a very personal thing and sometimes one little thing in a book can make it or break it for you based on your own life experiences.

  9. This is a great list. It is OK to DNF a book. There are so many other books that there's no reason to force oneself to get through it (well, unless it is a school assignment, right?)


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