My Reading Life

My Reading Life

If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.
— Stephen King

If you ask a writer what their favorite book is, the answers you get will be as varied as there are books in existence. With just over 134 million published books circulating worldwide (as of 2016), that's a lot of potential answers.

And as a writer, your answer may change rather quickly since you're likely reading quite a few books over the course of a year, every year (right? right??). 

For me, I've purchased more books in the last year than I have in probably a decade. It wasn't because I wasn't reading, but just that my focus wasn't on works in paperback/hardback form. If I wasn't up to my eyeballs with technical manuals, Salesforce user guides, or client contracts and proposals, I was busy reading the lore found in games like Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, the Witcher series, and Europa Universalis IV. And whenever I did purchase books, I usually ended up snatching up a whole series at once just so I wouldn't have to think too much about what I would read when the opportunities arose.

This comes back to the quote that opened this post. There are so many reasons why one would want to read, and read often, if one aims to write a novel or even a short story. Diving down this rabbit hole of a discussion will be reserved for its own post in the future - if I started this discussion now, you'll be reading all night... Hmmm, yes, there's much to say here!

But again, back to that Stephen King quote. I wanted to take some time out and share a bit about my reading habits: What I'm reading, when I read, and how I read. At the same time, I've uploaded a handful of photos reflecting a collection of books that I've already read - in many cases multiple times. Let's begin!

What I'm Reading

Currently, I am in the middle of reading two books at the same time: Allen Steele's Arkwright and Ben H. Winter's The Last Policeman. These books are special for two reasons: they are both comparable novels for my book (comps, as they are called in the trade), and they are being read concurrently, something I normally don't do when reading novels.

When I get my hands on a book I want to read, I prefer to completely dedicate myself to that book until it's finished. If another book grabs my attention, I may purchase it but it's going to be patiently waiting until I finish what I've already started. Once my current book is finished, I'll allow some time to decompress from the experience (some books definitely need it more than others) before starting the next.

This isn't some process I picked up as part of figuring out how to best juggle a book list (I'm still working down my 2018 Reading Challenge) - I just don't like jumping between two incomplete books. That said, I've gone against this personal preference for my two current books because they are comp novels, so I wanted to be sure they still held up as comps 50-100 pages into each. I didn't want to wait to finish one of them before figuring out the status of the other - so here I am, book-hopping for the first time.

Good news: They are definitely comps, and will join Neal Stephenson's Seveneves to increase my comp list to three!

When I Read

Given my current work schedule, I aim to log at least two hours of reading time every day. Most of that reading is done in the afternoon, after I've completed several hours of writing or writing-related work in the morning. Depending on the time I hit the hay, I may bring a book to bed and continue reading well into the night, though this is something I find myself doing when I am particularly invested in a novel (if I am hooked, reading tends to overtake other priorities, including sleep).

How I Read

Despite my owning a Kindle, I still prefer the old-fashioned paperback/hardback format. As an owner of books that are, at this point, literally decades old, I've grown fond of what time does to them: The gradual discoloration due to humidity, body perspiration, and just the simple aging of the paper itself; the smell of "old book" when you pick it up and flip through the pages; the continual degrading of the binding, edges, and cover due to repeated reading sessions over the years. 

It's funny. I'm as tech-savvy and technologically progressive as anyone you'll meet, but when it comes to how I consume my books, I'm pretty conservative.

Now as I mentioned, I do have a Kindle. It was something I finally decided to purchase ahead of my trip to Tokyo as at that point I was about to start reading Seveneves and I just didn't want to lug that massive book with me on a trip like that. I gotta admit... I did enjoy using the Kindle for reading multiple hours at a time. Since then, I've purchased other books exclusively for the Kindle, David Simpson's Post-Human omnibus being the first. It does have its uses, for sure, but even now I still buy books that are made of tree - or recycled tree.

One reading format I've completely ignored are audiobooks. I know the benefits - you can listen to a book while driving, for example - but at least for me, the circumstances where I would want to use an audiobook over a physical or digital book have been close to zero. 

You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.
— Ray Bradbury

Reading is an important aspect of my life. It not only helps with my professional career as a writer of fiction, but also allows me to explore the world in ways that would otherwise be impossible for me - or anyone - to accomplish. Exploring the depths of humanity and what we are capable of are reasons I love reading. Given the number of books out there, waiting to be pulled off a bookshelf or shipped from a warehouse, I look forward to exploring as many as I can.

What are you reading today? Share your current book below, whether it's a paperback or audiobook!

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