QUESTIONS for the Avid Reader
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Well here we are half way through January - far enough in to get an idea of how it's going.
Many of us start the year with resolve and reading plans. If you did, is it working out? Let us know the highs and lows, the pitfalls and progress.
My resolution - get into the correct year.
I was going to resolve not to set any unrealistic goals for myself. But then I realised that that would be self-defeating. :-)
I’ve got a start on a couple of reading ideas I wanted to explore, but I’m not really showing any signs of being a reformed character where library management is concerned.
Use the public library, read your library books first
- moderate success. I’ll probably have to take at least one of the current batch back unread or extend it.
Clear the TBR
- Only one read from the pile so far, and that was a Book Club book. But I did read the two books that I got as Christmas presents.
Cut down on buying books
- I’ve bought and read two e-books and ordered four physical books since the start of the year. That is probably fairly restrained for the time of year (I didn’t stay in York for the book-fair), but it doesn’t sound much like cutting down...
>1 SassyLassy: get into the correct year - That was so much easier in the old days when practically everything we did involved a handwritten date. By the end of the first week of January you had messed up so many cheques that you got into the habit of remembering what year it was...
Have at least 50% of my reading be books that I already own
- I have yet to read a borrowed book this year. I know this isn't going to last, but making a concerted effort has been a nice way to start the year.
Increase the amount of non-fiction I read, aiming for at least 10% of my reading to be non-fiction
- It is early days yet, but so far I am hitting this goal as well.
Read more of the ebooks I own (20% of my reading in that format would be nice)
- This one is definitely a work in progress. I got a Kindle Paperwhite at the beginning of the month, and it has been helping with this goal, as I find reading the eInk screen to be much nicer than reading the same ebook on my phone or my iPad.
Be more mindful about my book acquisitions
- I won't say I am not going to buy/obtain any books this year (that would be ridiculous), but I am trying to keep it much lower than in previous years. So far, things are going well. I am participating in #theunreadshelfproject2019 on Instagram, and they have monthly challenges. January was no buy, no borrow, and I have been sticking to that. I've extended the "no buy" aspect of things to also cover freebies, and the one exemption to the "no borrow" I have made for myself is I can borrow the book my book group is reading in February.
Like I said, the intention with this isn't to stop buying books for an extended period of time, but more to kickstart the other reading habits/goals I have made for the year. If I'm not buying or borrowing books for a month, my only choices are to read what I own, or to not read. And I am not going to just stop reading.
But oh well. I don't believe in quotas or mandatory reading (unless it's for work) or keeping count or any other "should" type of activity... All reading is good reading if it's books I want to read.
A good example is a group read I just joined of Jill Lepore's THese Truths. After starting this 900 page book, I realized it just wasn't something I wanted to invest all that reading time in at this point. So I am going to bail on it and maybe come back to it when it suits my reading mood.
Like ANnie, I'd like to get back to cataloguing my books. I use my catalogue all the time, but for some reason, stopped updating it last year. I'm really upset with myself because it will be such a pain to go back and update it all, but I really want the record to refer to.
Love this All reading is good reading if it's books I want to read.
I've also accumulated a CR wishlist which is in addition to my other wishlist (mostly made up of pending releases of series I'm reading or authors I like). Of the four books I bought on the weekend, only one of them was on my wishlist. And neither of the books I've borrowed was on my wishlist either.
The TLDR version is that I don't like my chances of reducing the TBR pile by much!
Oh, and all this getting rid of books has left my catalogue in a sorry old state which I'd really like to sort out. At some point I also stopped catalogueing my new acquisitions too, and I would love to be up-to-date.
Number goals work for me - lists don't. If I say I'm going to read these particular books they immediately become immensely uninteresting and everything else becomes much more attractive.
Broken down, I'm supposed to read 5 BOMBs and discard 5 books each month. However, I was in the middle of a clunker at the turn of the year (The Ne'er-Do-Well, by Rex Beach) and it's taken me half the month to finish it. So my BOMB and discard count so far is 1, and everything else I want to read is a reread. Another goal I set (because it really helps with the BOMBs) is that I needed to read a BOMB for every reread, in advance. I'm slightly abrogating that rule for a while, and allowing myself to use up the 14 rereads I'd paid for last year and didn't use (that is, I read 14 more BOMBs than previously read books last year). I may not hit my interim goals in January, but I expect I'll catch up soon.
A 6-book haul from the secondhand charity bookshop when I'd just popped in for 'a quick look' in my lunch hour was a great start to the rash side of the goal. I've read one of them already, but a flurry of orders I've had in at the library for ages have all come in at once so I'll have to park the rest of them for a while. Which brings me nicely to the random part of the goal, as they were ordered from a random perusal of the ridiculously long wish list I keep on Amazon to keep track of interesting book bullets from here and reviews in the weekend papers.
>6 japaul22: Jennifer, you're point on reading group guilt is exactly why I can't join a RL reading group, even though I love the idea of them. I'd find it very hard to read something I'm not enjoying or isn't my genre just because someone else has picked it as a group read.
Really, the only book list I have managed to stick with consistently is the list of books my IRL book club is reading, and that's because I want to be able to intelligently participate in our monthly discussions. And I am only in the one book club; any more than that and I think my list aversion would sabotage my reading enjoyment efforts.
- Reading Owned-But-Unread books: I've read eight so far. Not bad! (Though many have been novellas or short novels)
- Reading in non-English: I've read books in several languages, though not in any of my weaker ones. Must do better.
- Reading globally: UK, Netherlands, USA, Sweden and Nigeria, so far. I can do better, though.
- More by women: 7/13 items read so far by women. On track!
- More genre fiction: only one, I'm afraid. Must do better
- Genres outside my comfort zone: none so far. Must do better.
Because last year, I started relying mostly on my local public library and I live in France, I read very few books that weren't written directly in French or translated into French. This year, once the Scribd subscription I was promised as a Christmas present comes through, I should be reading more books in English.
My reading goals include re-reading a lot of the Newbery books I enjoyed in the past. I also made my booklists for the 2019 Challenge group, which really forces me to read some things I would not have picked up myself. I am also doing ROOTS again this year, to attempt to read my own books instead of always selecting the exciting new ones that I come across.
I have read 2 books and 2 plays from my Tudor category, 2 science fiction books and one book off my shelves.
read 100 books this year.
half of them to be from my own shelves (and then removed from the house!)
abandon any book that does not grab me in the first 50 pages.
try not to bring more home than I weed out
have read 6 so far, 3 of them from my TBR shelves.
Sadly, 2 were very underwhelming. I usually screen better than that!
1. Why is being used more frequently? (if it is - this may be my perception based on the books I've read.) But if it is being used more frequently, why? Is it a reflection of our culture being more fractured, bopping from one thread/topic to another on the internet? Why do authors use it?
2. I'm rather tired of it and sometimes resistant to it. I get all involved in one thread of the story, and the author leaves me at a cliffhanger, then I have to start over with a new story (or new view on the same story.) And then it ends on a cliffhanger, and I have to get into another story, or back into one that has receded in my mind. What kinds of stories is this technique well-suited for?
I recently read The fruit of the drunken tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras and thought this was an excellent use of the technique. Set in Colombia in the 1990s (mostly in and around Bogata), this tells the story of two individuals in two families. The Santiagos are middle class, and their youngest daughter, Chula (age 7 at the beginning of the novel) tells events from her view. The second family lives in a slum and is not given a last name that I remember. Petrona, the oldest daughter, 13 at the beginning of the novel, is a maid for the Santiagos and the only member of her family with a paying job, and tells the story from her point of view.
I liked seeing the same events from two points of view, and understanding the internal thinking and perspectives of two different characters, and the relationship between them.
I reread The Babylon Eye by Masha du Toit while visiting my dad, and discovered after reading the first two sections of the next novel, The Real, that I didn't want to reread it. I need to think more about why, but I'm curious about what others think about the first two questions.
ETA: Back. It seems to be a "thing" now, especially in YA. Perhaps the lists below might remind some of us what we have read and help stimulate the conversation....
https://www.janefriedman.com/using-multiple-points-view/ (interesting advice about when the technique is most effective).
>13 AlisonY: this is a lovely goal. My long term plan is to get here, but would require some brain rewiring.
So, my goals.
Ok, background: I have a list and I'm hoping to follow it (Two parts: James Baldwin and Rome to Renaissance. See my thread) There are three main strategies. (1) the list should be underwhelming, or appear so. This way I can have a bad month and potentially regroup. (2) the list should be self-reinforcing. I mean reading one book should put me in the mindset to want to read the next one (3) bail option should always be open. This should be fun and if the first two things workout, it likely will be. Curiosity is natural and can be manipulated to a degree. : )
Q1 answer: Too early to know. For Baldwin my goal was a biography I finished this am. So, so far all good. I'm interested, but his writing better draw me in. Will see. Rome really starts in February. My only goal this month was to finish the New Testament. Done - but momentum came from last year.
I don’t usually set reading goals. I tend to get distracted by shiny new things, whether they are recommendations that I pick up from everyone’s threads, or suggestions that I see in some of the publications that I read. I do have a few specific books on my shelf that I’d really like to get to this year, and maybe I should have a goal to read more from my shelf...but then we run into those shiny new things, and my goal is out the window. I’m just going to read what makes me happy..no strings attached.
and actually reading 52% female authors.
I don’t know if the following has any relevance to your question (and I know very little about literary criticism), but I just finished The Death of Truth by NY Times critic Michiko Kakutani in which she relies on certain literary trends to explain Trump. As she explained it, “post-modernism” posits that there is no one objective truth; every person (character) has his own truth. Nothing is real and everything is real. It’s up to the reader to decide. So maybe the use of multiple narrators/points of view is part of the post-modernist literary movement.
I personally usually like books narrated from multiple points of view (assuming it’s otherwise a good book).
What I do not like is the current trend in historical fiction to add a modern character so the reader can relate to the book, Usually the historic event is interesting enough without a modern character The People of the Book is an exception, where for the most part the modern character is essential to telling the story (tho the ending completely ruined the book for me)
Examples of multiple points of view that happen to be on my bookshelves that I think work well include:
All The Light We Cannot See
Life of Pi
Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archive novels have multiple viewpoint characters (and multiple timelines). The frequency of the changes in viewpoint character vary, but after three books there are currently six or seven primary viewpoint characters and another half-dozen or so secondary ones.
James A. Corey does a similar sort of thing in his The Expanse novels. Viewpoint characters trade off on chapter breaks, and there is a regular rotation between the viewpoint characters.
I noticed some viewpoint character switching in Whose Body? as I was reading it. Most of the story is told from Lord Peter Wimsey's POV, but there are a few switches when necessary (usually accompanied by some level of stylistic shift as well, based on the character).
Yes, I remember some of those not-Peter scenes in Whose Body? - very much what I'm talking about above, things that we-the-readers should know and Peter shouldn't, for story flow. So the book jumps to another character who knows/can see those things, rather than trying to contort the story so that it can all be told from his POV. And that's not a recent book - 1923, actually.
Is this one of the distinctions between "literary fiction" and "genre fiction"? I don't read literary fiction, so can't say.
*full disclosure - I rarely read Mystery or Romance; never read Westerns so Im guilty of doing that as well
>25 dchaikin: Yes, Dan, it does depend a lot on the execution. I'm trying to figures out why it has been bothering me more in the last year, but don't have any good answers yet.
>28 arubabookwoman: That, I think is one good reason to use the technique: to tell a complex story with more than one viewpoint. This is what I find so effective in The Fruit of the Drunken Tree, because the characters telling the story have widely different backgrounds, and also different experiences, but come from the same country.
>29 cindydavid4: Yes, the three I read and remember from that list use the technique well.
>30 shadrach_anki: >31 jjmcgaffey: I also read science fiction and fantasy, and this technique is often used to inform the reader about what is going on in different places so we have a picture of the overall action. I'm going to have to go through my reading list for last year, and try to list for myself which novels I read used this technique, and which ones I enjoyed it in and which ones I didn't. Maybe I'll see a connection then.
>31 jjmcgaffey: >32 cindydavid4: I agree with cindydavid4 that this isn't a technique that distinguishes genre fiction from "literary" fiction. A good story is a good story, period.
Thanks to all who have responded already.
Is it more prevalent now? And what does that mean? I don't have the quantitative knowledge to say. But they are very interesting questions.
Here is a link to an article about a problem with multiple POVs in science fiction and fantasy: interrupting the story flow. That's what made me give up on Wheel of time in the first doorstop of a novel, and give up on George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series as well - that and what I think is poor writing - though I got through the first 3-4 novels before that happened. He's a good storyteller.
Another one for mysteries.
And some blog posts, beginning with (#1 & #2) on Point of View that I want to read.
I don’t have any strong objection to it - although I do get a bit bored with the convention of “victim’s POV” in crime fiction. (“Little did X know as she heard a slight rustling in the bushes that three hours later she would be on the patholoist’s slab...”)
I think in really long works like that that the shifting POV is a relief. Also necessary to pull all the strands together.
Not a fan of JRR Martin, books or TV show, though the TV show cuts out a lot of the detritus (so you can concentrate on the rape, flaying, child abuse, executions, and incest).
I also set a goal there of reading at least five books that have been sitting on the TBR shelves since before 2007, when I joined LT. It's disturbing just how many volumes I have that qualify. But I haven't read any of those yet. I have some in mind that I want to get to this year, but they're intimidatingly big. (Which is probably a large part of the reason why they've gone unread for so long!)
I'm also continuing to follow my one-in/two-out method of TBR reduction, since it served me well last year. Right now on paper it looks like I'm doing good with that, but I've got some books coming in the mail that will put me a little bit in the red. Nothing I shouldn't be able to make up for fairly soon, though, and I'm optimistic about ending this year with fewer unread books than I started it with.
>32 cindydavid4: To get just a bit off topic for a sec: Genre is mostly driven by marketing. And marketing & segregation of types of books/stories is driven by the consumer who desires to easily find the kinds of books he/she prefers... This placement is also furthered by having different publishers & imprints for different kinds of books, and certain looks or artwork...etc all to help the consumer find like books. From my observation, a large percentage of the reading population is pretty happy going straight to their favorite "section" of the bookstore. If they are lucky, there will be a talented, terribly underpaid bookseller to point out some good cross-pollination between the sections.
I think it's up to us as readers to move around the library and bookstores to explore possibilities, or hang here among other readers (hopefully some who do not read exactly as we do).
>35 markon:, >40 bragan: I like to read books about popular culture, especially how books and literature fit into that, and such trends always have something to say about what's going on in our culture. I think, as you note, markon, the more interesting question here is whether the multiple POV book is trending now, and if so, why? And why so prevalant in YA? I find the comments in >28 arubabookwoman: intriguing but is that the answer? The speculating is deliciously fun, isn't it?
The multiple POVs don't bother me;its the ones that are in first person, when the subject or plot cries out for third person! Just read a couple that were just too much in the characters head. Stepping outside and writing in the third person I think helps the author show rather than tell a story.
>43 dchaikin: I might posit that any current trend might have something to do with giving voice to those who may not have had one...fairness, equality... (an oversimplification, but there it is). And maybe that connects with what Jean notes, the willingness to see a situation from other POVs.
>45 jjmcgaffey: Placement could be because of an imprint change (hasn't she always been published by DAW?) or an arbitrary move by the bookstore, and might depend on where one is in the country... YA has it's own themes and there is definitely a significant crossover with SF&F. Most bookstores don't overthink things.
Oooooh, we are all so bookishly energetic and social in January!!!
I read this and thought of here
I'm definitely a dystopianary-ist! Don't know what it is about January that makes me want to read so much dystopia.
Hmm, subzero temperatures, burst water mains, more snow than is comfortable, car not starting, bad transpo, craving carbs and caffeine, no sun, dried out sinuses, huge heating bill, wearing bulky fleece and long underwear?
I like winter, but this one has turned mean pretty quickly.
image from Tom Gauld in The Guardian Sunday, January 13, 2019
Looking at the cartoon above, what ideas would you come up with for February: Fibuary, Webuary... you get the idea.
How about some book titles to go with them?
In Aprilium I intend to--finally!--acquaint myself with Ontario's official flower, the trillium, and maybe more: Trees, shrubs, and flowers to know in Ontario.
Dismay will see me taking in Jill Lepore's These truths, in the hope that sunnier skies would counteract the inevitable gloom.
Joon is a cartoon. Finish off all the Pogos, Krazy Kats etc. in therapy with Drs. Walt Kelly, George Herriman et al. then off to the beach.
- DEBUARY - read only books by upper-class British females (Nancy Mitford, Emma Tennant, Mrs Harold Pinter ...)
- HEBREWARY - catch up with the late Amos Oz and his compatriots
- SEBUARY - time to focus on St Sebastian, if possible without reading either D’Annunzio or Derek Jarman
- CABUARY - from Sherlock Holmes to The sun also rises - a quest for fiction that is not safe in taxis
- RABUARY - Lucky Jim and other books that couldn’t have been written without the 1944 Education Act
- ARABUARY - over the desert with Lawrence, Thesiger, Freya Stark and co.
- SCARABUARY - Mysteries of the Pyramids
The Guardian also has a list of its top 10 literary hoaxes here: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/aug/05/top-10-literary-hoaxes-mark-blackl...
Also recommend Orson Welles's weird but ever-entertaining documentary, "F is for Fake."
My best friend and I, February-haters both of us, have been calling February "The F-Month" for 40 years, so I respectfully submit:
Granta 115: The F Word ed. John Freeman
The F-Word by Jesse Sheidlower
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson
Chill the F*ck Out: A Swear Word Coloring Book by Hannah Caner
and if you need to branch out a bit, Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing by Melissa Mohr
(Apologies for all the cussin'... I really, really hate February.)
- LONG MARCH - this is the month for War And Peace, In search of lost time, The Quincunx, and other triumphs of conciseness
- RADETSKY MARCH - time for a proper look at Joseph Roth
- IDES OF MARCH - I Claudius, Asterix And Cleopatra, Robert Harris, etc.
- AUGIE MARCH - American Jewish fiction of the 50s and 60s
- MEG-JO-BETH-AND-AMY-MARCH - a month in which to read little by women
A Primate's Memoir and others by Robert Sapolsky
Through a Window: My Thirty Years with the Chimpanzees of Gombe and others by Jane Goodall
Gorillas in the Mist
And fiction too:
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore
A Beautiful Truth
As for March...
Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit
Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London by Lauren Elkin
The Flâneur: A Stroll through the Paradoxes of Paris by Edmund White
A Walker in the City by Alfred Kazin
Ten Walks/Two Talks - Jon Cotner
The Lost Art of Walking: The History, Science, and Literature of Pedestrianism by Geoff Nicholson
All of Patrick Leigh Fermor's tales of traipsing around
The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot - Robert Macfarlane
A Walk in the Woods - Bill Bryson
And there are probably a zillion more.
The only book I can think of off the top of my head for Festruary is The Night Circus which admittedly is a bit of a stretch.
I've read Leigh Fermor, though not the most recent, may be an excuse to reread the first two across Europe. But then that brings up a lot of memories, wonder if I would. I have Solnit, mentioned on other threads, never got far in. Macfarlane I'd like to read. White my be interesting. The others too. I started writing to mention another and now cannot remember what it was, late shift, my excuse.
oh - it wasn't Edward Thomas, but it could be, in search of spring
May - all things blossomy? and of course, maybe some queens, but not royal, puhlease.
For me maybe some showers too in April. And Paris.
Not that I'll ever stick to such a plan.
ive read those two several times while waiting for the third. Its worth it, but the meloncoly feel is throughout the book - as he is an old man by this time. Still glad I read it. I would skip the biography btw - I don't mind it when a biographer digs the dirt on this subject, but after I read it, I just didn't like him very much.
I hear what you're saying of biography, i heard that about it. And yet so many people sought him out and were treated with hospitality.
(and now reading him is hard as it churns up stuff like that, and questions - maybe if I try I'll learn better and right my view of him a bit, and of me (?))
>79 dchaikin: Never feel bad for not 'getting' a book or author; there are so many that others have told me I'd love, but I can't , either due to time in my life , my mood, distractions or just orneriness. There are so many other books out there waiting, I just can't feel guilty about the others!
I did already know if his service in Crete. That something well worth appreciating.
Well LT has its annual Valentine's Heart Hunt going, so in that spirit, with a bit of excess from an earlier time, and noting that in China the peony has a totally different meaning:
Romeo and Juliet, Cyrano and Roxane, Jane Eyre and Rochester, Kitty and Levin, Daisy and Gatsby, or on another level, Anna and Vronsky, and Heathcliff and Catherine: love stories all. Are great love stories still being written? Why or why not? As usual, give your fellow readers some ideas.
Why, you ask? Because true love never dies (just ask Princess Buttercup and Wesley :) )
These days, you can't really use "reader, I married him" as the end-point of a plot in mainstream literary fiction, unless you are loading it with a great deal of irony. "Boy meets girl, both die" has also rather fallen out of favour. Because we're all so much more cynical and sophisticated than we were 200 years ago. Or at least less prepared to accept the sort of assumptions about the world that Jane Austen could get away with in the opening sentence of P&P. So the classic romance has mostly been banished to genre fiction, where it still seems to be alive and thriving, as >86 cindydavid4: says.
But there are still plenty of
In my old age, I find stories about human decency more stirring. Thinking of two favorites from last year, Go, Went, Gone and An Unnecessary Woman. Both are about love, I think, of a non-romantic nature.
I like The Legend of Bagger Vance (and the film of), it has romantic love and a wider love, faith. And golf. I love the film In the Mood for Love, and many remarkable films of recent years, may be boring to start listing them. The English Patient maybe. I love both the film and book Wonder Boys.
But then lots of poetry.
So I guess I'd say: life is complex and messy, as is love, and that's how I like my fiction too.
He sometimes thought that what had happened related to the familiar doubt as to whether love really exists, or is merely a sick, over-the-rainbow fantasy, a new phantasm that has appeared on our planet only in the last five or six thousand years. Perhaps we still can’t tell if our planet will accept it, or reject it as foreign tissue.
Whistle-blowers had sounded the alarm about the hole in the ozone layer, about the encroaching deserts, and terrorism, but nobody had yet drawn attention to the fragile state of love. Perhaps a few sects had been created to investigate the truth or falseness of love, and maybe this couple, Besfort Y. and Rovena St., had been members of one of these.
But, regardless, it’s not an easy question to answer. If a book carries you away in a love story, does it become a great love story? Can it be your own personal classic? Or does that story need to reverberate through the culture (in which, it probably needs to be revisited and translated into a variety of mediums - film and music, etc)? (>86 cindydavid4: Buttercup and Wesley qualify)
Of course, on that personal level, I encounter great love stories all the time in books, but they usually have some satirical aspect lying within...exceptions focusing on jealousy.
Like many of us, I do not like fiction where the romantic entanglements of two people are the main storyline as I find them often to be sentimental and trite. Like >93 lisapeet: Lisa says, life is complicated and messy, and love is also. Romance can be background as long as character and motivation are what I consider realistic/believeable and congruent with the overall story arc.
Also, as a reminder I looked up romance and found the following definitions that I think are germane to this discussion:
1. A feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love
2. A medieval tale dealing with a hero of chivalry, of the kind common in the Romance languages.
3. A work of fiction depicting a setting and events remote from everyday life, especially one of a kind popular in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Middle English: from Romance, originally denoting a composition in the vernacular as opposed to works in Latin. Early use denoted vernacular verse on the theme of chivalry; the sense ‘genre centred on romantic love’ dates from the mid 17th century.
We've talked about bedside table books in the past, but not all of those maybe being actively read.
Thinking of the book(s) you are actually reading, no matter where, are you a one book at a time reader or a multi book reader, or does it vary throughout the year? Do you have limits on how many you will tackle at a time? Has this ever had disastrous consequences (for you, the books...?)
I need to have them be pretty different from each other, though. For instance, I usually have a nonfiction in the mix. ANd then if I have two fiction books, one is usually a classic and one a new release. Or a mystery or similar.
Another good thing about reading one book at a time for me is that I can follow my interests in a more linear flowing way. The book I'm reading typically inspires the next book I want to read and so forth. But when my attention is on say, three books at once, each book might inspire me to go in a different direction and that's when I get overwhelmed and just stop reading entirely.
So yes, definitely prefer reading one at a time but I've had both success and failure with reading more than one at a time.
At present, I have an audiobook I listen to on my daily commute (and when I'm doing housework things); an ebook novel that I am buddy reading with my mother; a physical novel (borrowed from the library at the moment); and a non-fiction work. Then there is my daily scripture reading/study, which I classify differently because it isn't something I am really ever going to be done with.
My limiting factors tend to be based on format and themes rather than strict numbers. For example, I will only listen to one audiobook at a time, though I have paused one I owned in order to listen to one I had been waiting a couple of months to get from the library when that hold came in. With ebooks, I might be reading one on my Kindle and a different one on my Nook and a third in Libby from the library, but I won't be switching between content on any given platform. Basically, I try to keep it to one book per app/platform. I actively avoid concurrent reading of books that are too similar in theme/tone; if I find that too many similarities are cropping up, one of the books will wind up "on hold" while I finish the other. I also avoid reading multiple books by the same author at the same time, even if they are in different series (exceptions have been made when rereading).
So I think my max is four books going at a time, but I'm usually focusing on one and reading the others occasionally. And my partly-read pile keeps getting higher - though it's also mixed with "I'll be reading that next...oh, look what (else) I found!".
And it happened to me just this week that I found an audiobook that I’d started six months ago, which for some reason had lost track of where I got to, so I ended up listening to quite a lot of it a second time. Fortunately it was good enough to justify that! (Alice Munro)
>111 thorold: I don't see it as a bad habit though. It works for some people and not others. Just a different way of enjoying your reading.
Well, all right, I say "strict." The one exception is that sometimes if I have a book structured with little bite-sized snippets -- like dictionary entries or single-page articles -- I might keep that around to dip in and out of in spare moments, especially if I'm expecting to have a lot of disconnected spare moments. There was a period of time, for instance, when I had three cats who had to eat three strictly enforced and entirely different diets, so every time I fed them, I had to stand there and keep them from diving into each other's food bowls until they were done. I found books with entries I could read for ten minutes at a time and not have to concentrate on too hard a handy distraction while I stood ready to shove cats around with my feet.
For those in this situation who need short reading bits, stories by Saki or essays by Fran Liebowitz work well.
Alas, those days are done once again. My problem now is that my remaining cat was just diagnosed with diabetes. He's now supposed to eat his food in two carefully measured daily meals with no snacking in-between, and get his insulin shots at the same time. But try explaining this to him, when he's used to eating a few mouthfuls at a time and coming back to the bowl for the next hour and a half until he's finished some amount of it, and then saving the rest for later in the day. So now I have to keep putting the food dish in front of him over and over, trying to get him to eat half his daily allowance at once.
Also, I was informed that it was very important to give him the food/shot at intervals exactly 12 hours apart, consistently. An annoyance for anyone, but I work constantly rotating shifts, and I live by myself. With my work schedule, this is going to range from mildly inconvenient to massively disruptive of my life and sleep, to literally impossible without the use of a time machine. "Well, just do your best," said the vet.
Sigh. That cat is so ungrateful for everything I do for him, too. But it is really nice when he lies on my stomach and purrs when I'm reading on the sofa.
Yep. This is what my life has come to.
(I feel like I should apologize for derailing this thread with all the cat talk. But I regret nothing.)
Because I am a mood reader, I am a multi-book reader. Usually I have three or so books ongoing at anytime (sometimes more). The more common combination is a nonfiction book, a crime/mystery novel (that one usually bedside) and a non-genre, "literary" novel. But, I can sometimes have a poetry collection or anthology hanging about, or a short story collection nearby to occasionally dip into. This is not to say that any one of these selections might not become all-consuming pushing all else aside, as a Joyce Carol Oates novel did recently.
>118 nohrt4me2: My house would be neater if I could just force myself into that one book at a time thing. Note also above my comment re: books becoming all-consuming and overtaking the others. :-)
My head may be neater if I focused more? But then messiness can be creative, they say.
I had to stop listing what I'm reading on my threads and profile as it seemed to put me off, and then just gets bothersome as I drift.
Oh - and I kind of care, yet also don't.
If you live long enough (and it's a different age for everyone), multi-tasking or -reading just becomes impossible. I discovered while cooking Xmas dinner that just listening to the radio while making a pork roast with grilled veg was dicey.
So multi-read as long as you can!
Clutter bugs me, but I try to remember what one of my heroes, Texas Governor Ann Richards's said, that she didn't aspire to have "she kept a neat house" engraved on her tombstone.
People who come to my house may have to move stuff around and toss a few cats aside to find a seat, but I trust they'll enjoy the coffee and conversation!
I often have a non fiction book going, and at least two novels, genre or otherwise, and an audiobook. And stacks from the library because I just have to read this one and this one and this one . . .
So tomorrow I must return Black Leopard Red Wolf since it is on a hold list at the library. It's good, but I can only read small chunks at a time.
>129 avaland: Clutter bothers me, but I live in the midst of it and also love the Anne Richards quote!
>127 bragan: No regrets! This is also my kind of friendly conversation.
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."
"It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York."
"The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there."
"Call me Ishmael."
"I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking."
" 'Take my camel, dear...' "
Great opening lines all. Like opening chords in music, a great first line hooks us, gives us that tingle that lets us know this is going to be a worthwhile ride, that this will be the book consuming our time for the next while.
What is your favourite opening line? Did the rest of the book live up to it?
While you're at it, there's just a little over a month to get your entry in for the 2019 Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest, your chance to come up with the worst opening line.
Check it out here: https://www.bulwer-lytton.com
A few I like that don’t get quoted so often, all from great books in their very different ways (although it’s interesting how the first two somehow seem to go together...):
The door of the Drones Club swung open, and a young man in form-fitting tweeds came down the steps and started to walk westwards. An observant passer-by, scanning his face, would have fancied that he discerned on it a keen, tense look, like that of an African hunter stalking a hippopotamus. And he would have been right. Pongo Twistleton—for it was he—was on his way to touch Horace Pendlebury-Davenport for two hundred pounds.(Uncle Fred in the springtime, 1939)
He was an inch, perhaps two, under six feet, powerfully built, and he advanced straight at you with a slight stoop of the shoulders, head forward, and a fixed from-under stare which made you think of a charging bull. His voice was deep, loud, and his manner displayed a kind of dogged self-assertion which had nothing aggressive in it.(Lord Jim, 1900)
Beginning this book (not as they say ‘book’ in our trade—they mean magazine), beginning this book, I should like if I may, I should like, if I may (that is the way Sir Phoebus writes), I should like then to say: Good-bye to all my friends, my beautiful and lovely friends.(Novel on yellow paper, 1936)
And for why?
Read on, Reader, read on and work it out for yourself.
I do enjoy reading the Bulwer-Lytton entries each year.
-Ian Banks, The Crow Road
An above average read, but I doubt any writer could live up to that first line.
At the Mountains of Madness by H. P. Lovecraft
From The towers of Trebizond by Rose Macauley. I adored this book, but it won't be for everyone: it caters to people whose sense for the absurd is finely tuned. My review of it is here. If Wodehouse-style humour appeals to you, give this one a try.
Opening line of the collection:
“My heart—I thought it stopped. So I got in my car and headed for God.”
Another favorite opening line to one story (title story to The Dog of Marriage)
“On the last night of the marriage, my husband and I went to the ballet.”
"Nobody was poisoned at the dinner for the Society of Olive Oil Producers of Baeticca--though in retrospect, that was a quite a surprise." (A Dying Light in Corduba)
"I had just come home after telling my favorite sister that her husband had been eaten by a lion. I was in no mood for greeting a new client. (One Virgin Too Many)
"I find it surprising more people are not killed over dinner at home." (Nemesis)
I love a long first sentence too. Donald E. Westlake's are quite good and this opening to his novel Don't Ask is a favorite.
“Stuck in traffic on the Williamsburg Bridge out of lower Manhattan in a stolen frozen fish truck full of stolen frozen fish at 1:30 on a bright June afternoon, with construction out ahead of them forever on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, with Stan Murch on Dortmunder's left complaining about how there are no decent routes anymore from anywhere to anywhere in New York City–”If there ain't snow on the road, there's construction crews”–and with Andy Kelp on Dortmunder's right prattling on about global warming and how much nicer it will be when there isn't any winter, Dortmunder also had to contend with an air conditioner dripping on his ankles.”
And there's there classic fiction long opening line (following a very short sentence, but I'm counting it). Here's the start of Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell.
“To begin with the old rigmarole of childhood. In a country there was a shire, and in that shire there was a town, and in that town there was a house, and in that house there was a room, and in that room there was a bed, and in that bed there lay a little girl; wide awake and longing to get up, but not daring to do so for fear of the unseen power in the next room; a certain Betty, whose slumbers must not be disturbed until six o'clock struck, when you wakened of herself 'as sure as clockwork,' and left the household very little peace afterwards."
I'd say all of these books lived up to the opening line, and some, like the Gaskell, speak SO clearly to the voice and character of the entire novel.
My name is Fabian Vas. I live in Witless Bay, Newfoundland. You would not have heard of me. Obscurity is not necessarily failure, though; I am a bird artist, and have more or less made a living at it. Yet I murdered the lighthouse keeper, Botho August, and that is an equal part of how I think of myself.
The book was quite good.
I like the opening line of Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides:
I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960, and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Peroskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.
And of course the opening line to Pride and Prejudice is a classic.
"All right. He's dead. Go ahead and talk to him."
Thanks to lisapeet for suggesting this next question:
If you were searching out books before the internet, before books were suggested to you in your various feeds, how did you discover that next book? Periodicals like the TLS and The New York Times Review of Books were definitely one source, but how did you discover backlist books and books from small presses, which the mainstream review outlets may have missed?
Once you found that book, was there a particular "genealogy" to your reading? Did one source lead to another?
Do you still use these sources?
So it was a fairly gradual shift. I can certainly remember getting book recommendations through usenet groups and then ordering books by post, for example. And subscribing to paper journals by mailing or faxing them a form printed off from their website...
Before there was internet at all, my main way of discovering interesting books was browsing the shelves of the local new and secondhand bookshops and whatever libraries I had access to. And from time to time a trip to visit bookshops elsewhere, e.g. in London or Köln.
Second most important was probably reviews of new books in the newspaper, which there was more time to read in those days, and reviews in magazines for special-interest stuff. Lists from interesting specialist bookshops where I was a regular customer would come in the post three or four times a year. I had phases of reading the TLS and NYRB, but I usually got so far behind after a few months that I ended up stopping the subscription again. When I got interested in American LGBT fiction, I subscribed to Lambda Book Review for a few years.
Book to book links were key, of course: if I’d found interesting books from a particular publisher, I might well keep a lookout for other things they had published, and similarly for authors or titles that were mentioned in other books in a context that made them sound worth checking. Of course, that kind of link mostly takes you backwards in time, which is great when you’re mostly buying old books.
I still browse shelves when I get the chance, but there aren’t anything like as many interesting bookshops around as there used to be. I still get ideas from the Guardian Books page, but I look at it online. And I still can’t make it through a TLS or NYRB in the interval between two issues!
- flea-markets, bookfairs, and exhibitions
- personal recommendations from perfect strangers in bookshops (“don’t read that, try this”) - it used to happen to me all the time, but it hardly ever does nowadays. Perhaps you have to look young.
Book recommendations from friends, family members, and teachers/librarians also informed my reading. Sometimes I would go on the hunt for a book that was mentioned in a book I was reading. Maybe it was in the bibliography, or maybe it was just mentioned by one of the characters in the story. And I would always keep an eye out for new (to me) books from favorite authors.
My current book searching efforts follow a lot of the same general pattern as they did in pre-internet days. I still wander around libraries and bookstores, but I tend to come with a list these days (much like I did when going to the school book fairs), and that list is generated by checking the library website, or from discussions with friends/family/online book community. So...less truly random browsing in physical locations, but other than that, not much difference in the end results.
I still browse the New Book shelves in the library when I go in - but these days, that's two or three times a year (usually when there's an event in the library) rather than twice a week. And there's an awful lot of old(er) books on the New Book shelves these days, not sure why - I keep seeing something by Favorite Author! oh, the one that came out last year. What about this year's? I do request books occasionally - though more often ebooks than paper ones these days.
My 12th grade teacher used to bring in things she thought I would like: Scandinavian novelists, unexpurgated Chaucer, Faulkner.
When I majored in lit in college, I made recreational reading lists from stuff we didn't get around to reading in class. Or I picked books next to items on my list in the library stacks.
For about a decade I read everything the NYT Sunday supplement told me to.
I only get a fraction of rec's online even now.
When I got sick and had to quit working I had a bit of a book browsing crisis. I was so used to books being shoved under my nose at great volume. After that I spent a couple years catching up on books by authors I already liked and then some time reading mediocre books in genres I mostly didn't like just because someone recommended them and they were easy to find.
Thank goodness for LibraryThing helping to turn that around, even if my to-read list is an unmanageable monster.
>167 jjmcgaffey: And well, you're right, it might not be the book I really want at that time, but this has allowed me to open my reading horizons, and sometimes make nice discoveries!
And you remind me that I need to replace my e-reader, as the one I bought after my trip to Honduras has dying a few months ago. But the one I want to buy is out of stock, and I am starting getting nervous. What will happen if they do not restock before the summer break???
Which reminds me - other sources pre net were book groups, either sponsored by bookstores, libraries or school.
BI (before internte) I browsed my local library every week, walking the mile with books home to finish them the next week. Librarians were my source of enablers and they did a great job! I also went with my dad every month or so to the local bookstores for reads.
I also was in AP classes through High School, and the teachers often recommended books that I'd like. Later on, it was NYT book review, and a great little publication called Common Reader, a monthly catalogue that included little known books (mostly from the UK) by authors I didn't know but came to love (Elizabeth Von Arnim among my favs) Bas Bleu was another catalogue, which is still in business
Dalton and Walden bookstores had large selection of sci fi/fantasy books and the booksellers there often discussed books with me and recommended what to read next
I didn't find the internet till 2000 when a friend showed me how to use it. Somehow I stumbled upon Salon Table Talk book forum. Oh my - I spent many happy hours among very well read folk from all over the world who fed my hunger for new (to me) books and authors. I still have online friends from that site (who also were on Readerville, and now Book Balloon which you can find here on LT)
Also discovered book searches; best of them being Book Finders. With these search engines, no book is out of print! Tho I have to admit I miss those 'eureka!' moments when I book I had been looking for suddenly appears; those old ways of browsing yield did many such surprisises.,
Once you found that book, was there a particular "genealogy" to your reading? Did one source lead to another?
Oh my yes, from an early age! Reading Jungle book led me to Kim which lead me to learn more about India through non fiction books, then reading Far Pavillions. Discovering a used copy of Here Be Dragons at a library sale, and reading every other book that author wrote (waiting impatiently for her next one!) Id think of this as chain links that spread in all directions from one book to two to eight and on and on. I still do this - from a fiction, to a history or travel, to a bio, all from one book.
I didn't do that much online before I joined LT. Just before LT I got into the NYTimes book review. But really LT coincided with my discovery that there were many many more books I really wanted to read then i could actually read, and many many books i wished I had already read. I'm not sure how this would have gone differently without the internet. The good thing is that I've learned I like reading about books.
Last note, when I joined LT in 2006 I had 258 books on my list of books read (over about a 16 year period). Since than I have added 746 to that list (over almost 13 years). So my reading dramatically changed before and after.
This is not just a matter of expanded metadata having become searchable (e.g. Librarything's tagmash; Goodreads' "shelves"), but also an increase in something akin to "friend's recommendations": online, you have access to the writings of so many people who have enthused about the precise combination of subjects you are looking for -- often in listicle form. There's always someone who has read what you are looking to find out about.
Still reeling over the casual disgust and contempt for the physical world that this term conveys, and what it says about our attitude toward humankind.
The days of confronting my own geezer-hood come thick and fast now. Zoinks!
But now I know why we old people die: We want to.
Sorry for the sidetrack.
"Still reeling over the casual disgust and contempt for the physical world that this term conveys, and what it says about our attitude toward humankind" (emphasis added)
I think you're reading too much into that word, the emphasized portion in particular. I find that meatspace is a useful (and cheeky) antonym for cyberspace/online spaces (especially in contexts where the online space has possibilities lacking in the physical realm, though that doesn't have to rise to the level of "disgust and contempt"). Until the advent of the internet, no such term was needed; and I avoid the term IRL because it implies that online interactions are somehow not (or less) real.
>"But now I know why we old people die: We want to"
Ok, now you're definitely exaggerating.
Maybe exaggerating a little about death. But age and infirmity does reconcile one to Deadspace. It is a gift to be thankful for a good life ... and thankful not to regret mortality.
Anyway, I thought I ought to chime in here since I'm the one who asked the question in the first place. I'm very fascinated with the idea of reading genealogy—now we have so many book recommendations and reviews and lists thrown our way, but once upon a time you found out about a book somewhere, and tracing those lines really interests me. I grew up in a very bookish household—my dad was a college professor, my mom was a very wide ranging reader, both of them having come of age in that particular urban Jewish '40s and '50s culture that put huge stock in books and intellectualism. So there were always books all over the house that were never off limits to me (ask me what I thought of Fear of Flying at age 13!) and they supplied me with all the appropriate books for a '70s kid, The Phantom Tollbooth and Narnia and A Wrinkle in Time and The Dark Is Rising, all that good stuff. As far as finding books on my own, I spent a LOT of time at the library, pulling miscellaneous interesting things off the shelves, and in our local college bookstore. I subscribed to Kids' Magazine and Cricket, and then Fantasy & Science Fiction, and through that got into underground comix. Went to work in an underground comic/sf store after school as an early teen. And read my parents' New Yorkers and NYT Book Reviewand my mom's Ms. Magazine. The NYer was a huge conduit for books. And in high school I had lots of friends who had older hippie brothers and sisters who read a lot, and we traded books constantly. And in college—art school—I was exposed to a ton of stuff.
At some point, probably through kids' mail order, I started getting A Common Reader catalogs, which were another major point of departure for me—they came out every three weeks with mini reviews of curated, eclectic, wonderful books, and I'd sit down and circle the ones I wanted and figure out how I was going to pay for them all. Those, in turn, primed me for my gateway online book forum, Readerville, and that led me to the book Internet, and here we are.
I'm thinking about all this because I'm writing an essay on James Mustich, the guy behind A Common Reader and his new book, 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die, which I'm writing for Bloom. Technically it fits because he's over 40 and this is his first book, but it's also a musing for those of us over 40 and beyond about how we found the books we found, how we became capital-R readers, without that digital ubiquity.
Or it's going to be, anyway, once I write it. Which I have to do in the next few days to make my Bloom schedule, oy. But I had a great lunch with Jim last week and have transcribed an hour and a half of noisy audio, so I have all the pieces. I just have to write the grout, as I think of it. It's all there in my head, just not very organized yet.
At any rate, thanks for the thoughtful answers. I've loved hearing about people's reading genealogy, and have been getting fantastic responses everywhere I've asked (which has been everywhere, since it's a great way to make small talk).
I was always partial to books about runaways, freaks, pirates, and castaways as a kid. Probably can make a jump from those to my lifelong pull toward dystopians, psychothrillers, science fiction, etc.
For instance I can pinpoint the three books that changed the way I read fiction, shifting me from a strictly absorptive reader to a critical one—"Wow, you can do that to tell a story?": E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime, John Irving's The World According to Garp, Ann Beattie's Chilly Scenes of Winter, all when I was 13-14. Now, Ragtime I remember my dad giving me—he was a big one for putting books into my hands, bless him—and Garp I picked up of the new books table at the big old Barnes & Noble in NYC on a trip in with my parents, probably after having read a review of it in the NYT or New Yorker. But Chilly Scenes of Winter? I have no idea. I still remember the paperback, which means it was mine and not a library book, but HOW on earth did I discover that one? Maybe I read a review and bought it at the local university bookstore or on a NYC trip, but I frustratingly can't remember. So to stick with the genealogy analogy, it's like knowing the name of a particular ancestor, and about when they emigrated, but not what town they were from.
We had very similar childhoods in chaotic households. In comparing notes, we found that we gravitated to similar books as kids. The Boxcar Children, for example, was therapeutic for both of us in the same way at age 10.
We have certainly influenced each other's reading choices.
Hmm. I like the idea of making some kind of "genealogy" of the people behind my favorite books. Alas, I cannot remember who told me about Willa Cather.
Willa Cather--yes, I learned of her books when we read them in a reading group, mainly teachers. Death Comes for the Archbishop was the first one.
I learnt of Cather when I googled "female authors 1920s". That led me to Rebecca West and Edith Wharton, too.
From the first chapter of Neuromancer:
"...a tangible wave of longing hit him, lust and loneliness riding in on the wavelength of amphetamine. He remembered the smell of her skin in the overheated darkness of a coffin near the port, her fingers locked across the small of his back.
All the meat, he thought, and all it wants."
Rather OT, but I wonder how many computer enthusiasts came to reading fiction through an interest in Gibson.
Anyway, I came here to thank you all again for the great responses--they all got me in the right frame of mind to write this essay, which is priceless in my book. And here it is (the essay, not my proverbial book, which I most definitely haven't written): Discovery Channels: James Mustich, A Common Reader, and 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die.
Noir is probably integral to cyberpunk, I fear. And too many people, including some tech billionaires, seem to be all too simpatico with that attitude toward "meat."
Gibson's later books portray women much better, I believe. The Peripheral is quite good, but maybe much too on point in our current moment.
Disclaimer: I have not yet read the book myself, but I will, soon, in a few weeks or so. (It's somewhere on the pile of "to read when you're not sure about the next book"). Though I have no idea how much of Mustich's list the novella is based on.
That reminds me, a couple of years ago I read a fun little book written in the 1920s by the German poet Klabund - Deutsche Literaturgeschichte in einer Stunde (German literary history in one hour). It didn't quite live up to the title, but it came very close. A tongue-in-cheek guide to everything you really need to know about everyone important from Walter von der Vogelweide to the Manns. There's nothing new under the sun!
On LT everyone is a reader. Think back though. Can you remember a time when you couldn't read? - How did you learn to read?
I have 2 older sisters who are 5 and 9 years older than me, so maybe there was a natural need / want to catch up with them, but I would say I'm definitely the bookworm of the three. Perhaps becoming one of life's readers is more nature than nurture after all.
Officially I must have learnt to read at primary school, because my father (being a teacher) always said he disapproved of parents who mess up carefully designed lesson plans by teaching their kids stuff out of proper sequence. But I’m pretty sure I must have been able to read before that. The school probably didn’t notice, they would have been too worried about my mixed-up bilingual condition, something they wouldn’t have had much experience with in those days.
In those days (1950s, U.S.), the conventional wisdom seemed to be to read to read to kids, but to leave teaching reading to the experts to avoid "bad reading habits": moving your lips when reading silently, following words with your fingers, not learning the correct "sight" words, etc.
My kid learned to read at four or five from watching "Between the Lions" on PBS. He was obsessed with the Braille system after we visited a Library for the Blind booth at a book fair when he was six. He would fill practice notebooks with "translations" of Harry Potter into Braille.
So no, I can't really recall not being able to read. Having difficulty spelling out words and sentences, yes. Having letters being entirely opaque to me, no.
It's been very interesting for me to observe my kids learning to read and see all the work that goes into it for the average (or even slightly above average!) reader. It's something I don't remember personally at all.
The small branch library was within walking distance of our house and we went there constantly. I was in the summer reading program every summer, and I remember sitting on the floor listening to the librarian read aloud during storytime. I remember the high ceilings and those wooden slant-topped kid reading tables and little stools! When the branch library closed, there was the bookmobile on Friday afternoons.
I do remember learning to read (formally). I remember coming home from school with one of the "Jean and Johnny" reading series (Catholic school version of Dick and Jane) and proudly reading the first pages to my parents (as in "Look, look. See Spot. See Spot run. Look at Spot and Puff!") That was a great and memorable day in my life, and I have not stopped reading since then. (People who don't like to read puzzle me greatly. I know that sounds judgmental, but there it is.)
I have very distinct memories of not being able to read some of the things I most wanted to read though, Asterix comics! I'd sit on the floor in the hallway in front of their book shelf and stare at the pages willing myself to understand them.
>208 japaul22: I didn't start reading chapter books on my own until I was about 9. I loved having my parents read those to me too, not because they were a struggle to read on my own, that just seemed like a good distribution of labor! I always read lots of comic books and word-heavy picture books on my own. Eventually I felt pressured to read chapter books simply because everyone in the family read a lot. The first one I tried to read on my own was awful but luckily the second was The Hobbit.
I got to school and was given Dick and Jane, and _hated_ them - there's no story there! Too easy. Then my sister went to kindergarten - she'd been reading for a couple years by then, probably Golden Books - and was firmly told that kindergartners couldn't read. Apparently (I learned this last year) she therefore decided that what she'd been doing, and enjoying, wasn't reading. It took _years_ for me to convince her to read for fun again - handing her every book I thought she'd enjoy, and I finally snagged her (though I don't remember with what).
The world is so full of a number of things,Still a life-organizing sentiment for me. If I were ever to get a quote tattoo, that would probably be it.
I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.
And actually it seems that The Poky Little Puppy had a lasting influence too. A few years after I got my beloved dog, I happened to take a second look at the book cover, and... well. I most definitely didn't set out to get a dog who looked like the Poky Little Puppy nearly 40 years after the fact, but it's a pretty cool coincidence:
When my mother would read out loud I’d listen carefully and after a while had each of my little storybooks memorized along with the exact moment to turn the page. With this accomplished, I realized I’d mastered reading and proudly announced the fact! I remember being annoyed to learn that reading was something else entirely.
So, it wasn’t until school and “My Little Red Story Book” that learning the art began. After a slow start, I took to it with relish.
My mother tells me that when I was three I seemed to be quite able to read the copy of The Real Mother Goose I insisted she perpetually have checked out of the library, although it's very possible that (like dypaloh) I just had the thing memorized. I do, however, remember being rather proud of being able to read the sign on the door of my first grade classroom. I also remember finding my reading lessons terribly tedious... Why did they keep making me spend all day spelling the word "cat?" Who doesn't know how to spell "cat?" :)
I can, however, date my earliest memory that is actually a memory and not a story rather precisely - it was the summer I turned 3. It's completely pointless, but it's my first memory - sitting on the top of the playhouse my dad made from a packing crate, looking at my new white sandals.
Said sandals turned up the next spring on the roof of the playhouse - I'd left them there, and they'd been buried under the snow. Not sure if I disliked them or just forgot about them... Their return, however, is a story, not a memory. My parents told us stories of us as kids a lot; a great many of my "memories" either are stories or are highly colored by them.
Hadn’t thought about this in years, but your comment pulled it out of my memory’s dark attic:
One year, just before the Super Bowl, Dallas Cowboy linebacker Thomas (“Hollywood”) Henderson claimed that Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Terry Bradshaw was so dumb “he couldn’t spell ‘cat’ if you spotted him the ‘c’ and the ‘a’.”
I remember it made me laugh. But the Steelers defeated Dallas, Bradshaw was voted the game’s Most Valuable Player, and I lost a bet on the game. I guess Hollywood and I were the dumb ones.
When I was around 4 or 5 my mum would buy me a Little Golden Book when we went grocery shopping, but I'm not sure whether they were to read myself, or for her to read to me.
What!!?? I never knew that idea existed!As a teacher myself, I have always thought of parents as being a child's first teacher, so actually welcome their exposing children to books. There is not one right way to learn to read, for most children its a combination of factors so its not a big deal if they learn differnt ways in school or homw.
I loved being read to, and think I actually started to read in Kindergarten (tho I think I learned Hebrew letters first; in nursery school at our synagogue, I remember the teacher showing us each letter and teaching us how to remember them. I don't remember the same with English ABCs.I have wondered if this early into to symbols made it easier to latch on the English letter and words). I know by the time I was six I was going to the library every week with my sister to check out books. If I couldn't read them yet, she'd read them to me.
I remember having to see a reading teacher when I was in second grade - apparently the school I went to in 1st taught using sight words and I didn't have much phonics background. But I caught up very quickly, and never looked back!
I strongly beieve that early exposure is the best way to teach a child to love reading and want to be a reader. Its hard now, with all the tech distractions, but the preschools I teach are rivited whenever I am reading a story, and end up looking at the book and pretend that they are reading themselves
I got in trouble in third grade for taking the reader home and devouring it in one go.
Learning at the same pace as everyone else and not reading ahead seemed to be important.
Things seemed to loosen up once we got to fourth grade.
>225 nohrt4me2: I also had that kind of thing in school, about holding the book at the proper angle. I also got in trouble for reading too much--when I was in 4th grade, I read more books than anyone else in my class and had more stars on my book report chart. The teacher did not believe I read 26 books when the other kids were reading five books.
First grade. My parents believed that if I need to learn earlier, the plans for kindergarten will be changed (they did get changed a decade or so later) and refused to teach me anything about writing, reading or counting (kindergarten dealt with that), letting the official program do it when the specialists thought they should.
I was in the minority in first grade - most of the kids could read... kinda (Bulgarian is phonetic so syllable-reading is common and is a common way to learn to read; people that do not read much may syllable-read a lot - especially with longer words but sometimes with any words). By the end of the year, I was one of the very few in the class that did not need to syllable-read new words and that could read a complete sentence/chapter without syllable-reading.
For a short time, my son went to Catholic school where "phonics" was emphasized more. He was reading in kindergarten. Switching to public school, which emphasized phonics less, didn't seem to mess up his reading at all.
I remember not being able to read in kindergarten and I “remember” my mother praising Sesame Street for teaching kids to read before school. (Did she really say that?!!). So, maybe I did learn something from watching tons of Sesame Street. I never remember being hindered because I was unable to read, but suspect I was an unenthused student of any effort to make random sounds from symbols. But really I don’t remember and just suspect it was a long road.
My daughter came into kindergarten already a reader and was the only reader in her class - care of a good preschool, to an extent. My son attended the same preschool and wasn’t reading till a bit later.
And Jim pens a great review—it’s a really fun book.