How’s the….

…Reading Going?

I have to ask: some recent changes in my reading habits combined with some research in how the brain processes information have me … well, curious mostly.

Guess how many books I’ve got in here (credit Wikipedia)

Like most writers, I love to read.  A book in hand is a beautiful thing, but for one reason or another, I’ve found myself drifting away from reading for fun and pleasure in recent years.  Part of it definitely was this little niggling critical voice that said I should be spending my time more constructively (a self-defeating voice at that, since it inspired me to play extra games of Solitaire and My Little Pony to boost my mood)…  Another part was the dread of carrying yet “One More Thing” around with me (ask anyone who knows me…  the rumors that I was descended from the great Galapagos Tortoises might be true).

So I had acquired a habit of avoiding fiction books, collecting books for “research” but not bringing them with me when I had to be out and about with my portable office, and trying to catch up on my classics via Project Gutenberg and Librivox.org (both sites I heartily recommend, btw).

But recently, I acquired (courtesy my wonderful husband), a PDA cum iPhone (as in iPhone without phone service because the device is broken).  With access to iTunes and a Kindle app (among others), I’ve rediscovered my love of fiction, having devoured an extra three books a week (not including audiobooks and podcasts that I’ve bluetoothed through the car speakers on the commute).

Aren’t they lovely? (cred Wikipedia)

Is this a good thing?  It used to be that I would read a book and the characters would stay with me for days and weeks (and often longer as I would create mental fanfictions for the characters I had grown to love).  I was quick reader even then, but I also liked to reread a lot and I would immerse myself into these fictional worlds through worn pages and crackling bindings.

I’m not inspired to reread these new e-books though–at least, not now.  It’s easy to read a page or two then drift over to play a bouncing ball game with a new pony then go back to read a few pages…  I’m finding it’s harder to feel connected with the characters.  I’m craving more action in the stories and less description, yet in my print books, I still find a lovingly detailed paragraph or two that sets the scene for my favorite character worth reading over and over.

So…  the verdict is still out.  Since I intend to use both e-books and print for as long as I have access to both, I hope to find a balance where the joy of reading is just that…  the JOY of reading and form will be of no consequence.

But I’d be curious to know your reading habits and if they’ve changed at all recently and why you think that’s happened.

ROW80

ROW80LogocopyAnd now that you know how my literary life is going, let me share my ROW80 life with you.  It’s… not going as well as I would like.

  • write every day; at the minimum, do 5 sentences not really…  I tried dictating a few notes and story ideas on the phone, but little more than that
  • finish a complete (rough) draft of Courting the Swan Song   I ‘talked’ with some of my characters after listening to some writing related podcasts and shared some mental rants about things authors do to their characters after reading some scenes in the e-books I’ve read
  • make twice weekly blog posts (WIPpet Wednesdays and Some Thing 4 Sundays) check
  • maintain active sponsor participation  check
  • energize myself with more physical activity  almost none…  I hurt my right foot on Wednesday evening, and I’ve hobbled since: still managed two small workouts at the Y even so
  • reclaim my writing space it’s hiding here somewhere
  • go through some piece of my electronic home (desktop, laptop, server space, Dropbox, etc.) organized stuff on the iPhone…  WHEEE!  a whole new electronic world to manage!
  • laugh more, hug my family more, share myself with friends more… some extra time with families at the Y for today’s Easter Egg hunt, does that count?
  • attend chats and sprints on Twitter (at least one of each) one

14 responses to “How’s the….

  1. I’m finding the same thing (and will actually be talking about it on my blog in a few days). It’s not just e-books that I can’t enjoy as much, though. It’s almost all books. I blame the fact that I’m constantly criticizing my own writing, so I can’t gloss over problems in other people’s books that would have been invisible to me a few years ago. I hate this critical aspect of myself, and I would LOVE to be able to get back to a state of mind where I can completely lose myself in a book. I just can’t seem to switch tracks. :/

    Love my Kindle, though. I can’t read on my iPhone, but the backlit Kindle screen is really pleasant to read on.

    Like

    • That “can’t read without consultations from The Editor” is part of why I’d stopped reading fiction as much as I had. No story is perfect, but when the Editor is on the job… even the best stories need a rewrite it seems. 😦

      What I think makes this problem happen (and makes it worse) is that “classic writing wisdom” that says we should analyze the stories we love to learn how to write those stories. No saying we shouldn’t, but… even silver linings have clouds.

      I will give the iPhone credit for helping me past some of that issue. But is it because I’m disconnected with the story that the act of reading is meaningless? I really hope not. That just would not… well, it would suck.

      Like

      • I’m glad you understand the editor thing. I’m posting about it in a few days (P is for pleasure reading), and I worried that people would think I was just being a whiny know-it-all. It is a problem, though, and one I just want to get solved!

        There has to be some solution, some way to turn it off.

        Like

  2. I’m with Kate — but it’s been going on long before becoming serious about writing fiction. I blame my Ph.D. in literature. I don’t think it’s bad, but it just makes it a lot harder for me to read for pleasure without the critical brain turned off.

    Perhaps you can imagine what it means for writing fiction. 🙂

    Like

    • I can certainly imagine what it means for writing fiction, since I do try to write the stuff (lately it’s been like pulling teeth, but I’ve gotten some new character sketch work and timelines designed as of today,so… yay me).

      I can see how having a degree in Literature could add to the problems of the inner critic, Ruth. Though, I imagine there must have been some relief from knowing that every other “voice” in the analysis and discussion of the works had no more “expertise” than you… *purses lips thoughtfully* Not sure if I’m saying that right. Basically, just noting that after reaching a certain point in one’s education it becomes clear that we’re all positing observations and our perspectives on those observations. Without a direct line into the author’s thoughts, we really don’t know what that author really meant or was trying to express at that moment… or how much was changed on him/her through translation or censorship, etc. (sorry about the philosophical bit… been taking a Shakespeare class and well, discussions of any historical literature could inspire this sort of thing, I guess…)

      Like

      • It’s true, I don’t get my knickers in a knot about the critiques I get. It hadn’t occurred to me that it might have something to do with having an advanced degree in English, but you might be right. 🙂

        Like

  3. I’m aiming to read a book a week. Some books are fast-paced page-turners, so I read more than one book that week. Others are 1,000-page tomes, so they might take me two weeks to read, but it all averages out. I try to read for fun, but sometimes I have trouble silencing my inner critic. I’m trying to balance reading fiction and books about writing with reading nonfiction books about other subjects, such as spirituality or even finance.

    Good luck with your ROW80 goals, Eden! Have a great day. 🙂

    Like

    • Interesting, Denise. Do you find that varying your reading “genres” helps you at all get past the critic? I mean, I find I’m less critical of books written by so-called “experts” (whether they are actually an expert in the field they are writing about being the question) than I am about any fiction I read. I’ve also found that if I set my head to the idea of a story being a “just for fun romp with no expectation of quality” that I have an easier time ignoring the critic too.

      For me, it’s when I read anything with expectation… Has this happened with you? I know you’ve mentioned reading a couple of books lately that friends have recommended to you, so I’m extra curious if this has increased or decreased the “editor’s” presence.

      Like

      • I definitely have a harder time turning off the critic when I read fiction, but really good storytelling can silence her. And even if I find things in a book that I don’t like, I can still find parts that I did like–so often it balances out. Ultimately, any time I read in any genre, it’s a learning experience.

        I have a background in journalism and publications, so even with nonfiction works I might notice flaws. If there’s any kind of factual inaccuracy, that stops me in my tracks. But most books by experts in any field have a lot to offer and I enjoy the learning process of reading nonfiction, too.

        Like

        • That’s the perspective I try to have… that everything can and is a learning experience. Though I wouldn’t mind having more of a sense of expertise than I do for things that might or might not be factually accurate.

          Like