Saturday, August 03, 2013

The Rules For Reading

Crap, I'm already running out of material.  Time for a meme.

Here's a meme that Electronic Cerebrectomy just did.

The Rules For Reading

1. Always stop at the end of a chapter. Always.

That's absurd.  I'll stop wherever I feel like.  If I need to, when I pick the book back up again I'll reread the last few pages to catch up.  Sometimes chapter breaks aren't even natural stopping points; I've seen chapter breaks in the middle of conversations.  Why would you stop there and not later on the chapter when the scene is actually over?

2. Use specific bookmarks.

Here's some wisdom from an old reader: bookmarks are a scam.  They're expensive, tiny posters that serve no special purpose that a blank piece of paper, a paper towel, or an envelope doesn't serve.  I for one am taking a stand against Big Bookmark and its vise-like hold on our reading habits.

Seriously, though, a while ago I learned to use a blank piece of paper, folded.  Why?  To make notes while reading.  Obviously, entertainment reading like crime capers and the like doesn't typically need notes, but I also read a lot of non-fiction and classic works, and it helps me a lot to write down (for example) any strong reactions I might have to an author's argument in the case of non-fiction, or the page number where a character was introduced or did something that may come into play later on, in the case of an epic novel with lots of characters and subplots.

2a. No dog-earing, bending, or folding of pages.

I'll dog-ear what I feel like.  Who made you Tsar of Book Handling?

2b. Weirdly enough, spine-breaking is fine, just don’t get too crazy with it.

I hate to see a poor book with its spine broken.  Not only does it look bad on a shelf to see those worn, white creases in a book's spine, but it detracts from the reading experience when a book keeps flopping open to its broken section.

3. Always read two books at once.

Always?  Why?  I mean, I read three or four books at once, typically, but what's wrong with just reading and concentrating on one?  Seriously, these are really weird, arbitrary commandments.

4. No (or minimal) writing in books. 

I don't mind a little writing in the margins (though it is better, as stated above, to use a piece of paper which also serves as a place marker), but excessive writing is bothersome.  You know what will make me decide not to buy a used copy of a book?  Highlighting.  I can't stand that shit.  Distracting.

5. Rereads must be earned because there are too many great books out there to read an okay one twice.

That's pretty arrogant.  Maybe someone just enjoys a book.  It doesn't have to be one of the all-time greats.  Maybe that book's particular message just resonates strongly with that reader.  There are more books being printed this year alone than you could read in a lifetime, so it's absurd to argue that you should reread sparingly in some misguided attempt to raise your number of books finished.

This meme is beginning to feel more and more like some arrogant martinet is just throwing out random crap as "rules" with no particular weight.

6. Not finishing a book is OK.

I know it is, but I finish what I start.  Movies too.  You go ahead and stop reading if you don't like it.  Me, if I invested more than a few pages to it, I'm going to see it through.  But at this point I'm pretty good at starting only books I'm going to like.  When a book is forced upon me, as in work reading, well, that's where it gets a little masochistic, I suppose.  But I'mma finish that sucker.  Just so I can say I did.  Yep.  Me and Edmund Hillary: finishers.

7. It is always better to take more books on a trip than you think you'll possibly have time to read.

That depends on whether you'll be lugging them around.  That's where a tablet comes in; you can carry a thousand books in one slim electronic package.

8. Having a favorite genre is fine. Getting stuck in that genre is bad.


9. Reading on a tablet is still reading.

Of course it is.  Anyone who has strong opinions about this one way or another is way too highly strung.  Reading words is reading.  Why would you even bother to defend that truism?

I'll tell you, though, I listen to a lot of audio books.  I count those as having been "read" by me, as well, but actually, I have my doubts.  Suppose the book is a Shakespeare play.  Suppose you listen to it on audio.  Have you "read" the play?  What if you see it on stage?  Should you count every viewing of a play as having "read" the work?

You see the kind of world-shaking metaphysical musings I engage in.  Once a philosophy student, always a droning bore.

1 comment:

daveawayfromhome said...

1. wtf? why?
2. i like post-it notes, they dont fall out.
3. do i own it? is it a cheap paperback that I own? the tsar thing - agreed!
4. I really hate when people write in books. Once I read a library book where someone had underlined every color word in the book. annoying.
5. are you kidding me? there are books i'll read every year or two. I call them comfort books. what will they suggest next? never eat the same foods twice unless you've "earned it"?
6. I used to be a finisher. Now, not so much. less of a masochist, i suppose, than i once was.
7. I tend to take too many books, havent gotten around to the tablet thing yet (except on my phone, but only a few).
8. yep
9. I'm going to have to say that listening to books isnt reading. Unless... unless that is all youre doing at the time. Reading requires your undivided attention.