Sunday, October 11, 2009

Reading Habits Meme

Check out Writtenwyrd’s Chthulu Horror Writing Contest. Looks like it’s going to be cool.

In the meantime, I’ve been seeing this “reading habit” meme around and it looks like fun. So here goes: (the questions are in italics, my responses not)

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack:
I read any time I get a chance so I often read while I’m eating, but I don’t specifically seek out snacks or drinks when I decide to read.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?
I do mark in nonfiction books, especially those I’m using for classes. In fact, I’ll have lots of marginalia in those. If I find something particularly interesting in a nonfiction book I’ll make a note in the front of the topic and page number. I don’t mark in fiction books but will make notes on a separate sheet or a computer file at times.

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open?
Bookmark only. I hate the thought of dog ears. As for laying the book flat open, and face down, I’ll only do that with hardback textbooks, which are built tough.

Fiction, nonfiction, or both?
I read about two thirds fiction to one third nonfiction. I read in just about every genre within fiction and nonfiction. Probably most of my nonfiction is about science or writing.

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of a chapter, or can you stop anywhere?
It depends on the book. I like to read to the end of a chapter, or to a clear break marked by a space, but some books have long dense chapters and I’ll stop where ever I have to, like with The Prince of Tides.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop and look it up right away?
Almost always, or if I’m not in a position to look it up I’ll write it down to look it up later.

What are you currently reading?
The Prince of Tides, by Pat Conroy
The McDonaldization of Society, by George Ritzer
The Future at War, Volume II: The Spears of Mars

What is the last book you bought?
Like Mayflies in a Stream, by Shauna Roberts

Are you the type of person that reads one book at a time, or can you read more than one?
I usually read at least 3, often a nonfiction book, a novel, and a short story collection.

Do you have a favorite time/place to read?
Anywhere, anytime. I once took my brother to the New Orleans casino. Since I didn’t care to lose money myself, I took a book and read. Man did I get some weird looks. But I just thought it was funny. I take a book with me everywhere.

Do you prefer series books or stand alones?
Seems like most books published these days are parts of series, especially in fantasy. I like series a lot, but I also read plenty of standalones. I don’t have a specific preference, I don’t think.

Is there a specific book or author you find yourself recommending over and over?
I recommend The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen to anyone I see. I consider it the single best book I’ve ever read. Besides that, I recommend based on the person’s interests. If they are interested in reading westerns I’ll give ‘em some L’Amour titles, if it’s thrillers I’ll mention Koontz or C. S. Graham, if it’s horror I’ll talk about Wayne Allen Sallee, or Charlee Jacob.

How do you organize your books?(by genre, title, author’s last name, etc.)
The books that I’ve read are generally filed alphabetically within genre, and separated by hardbacks versus paperbacks. A few special types of books are kept in special places. Like I have all my old Ace Doubles in one place, alphabetical within author for those. My TBR piles are huge and are separated only into general categories, westerns, thrillers, SF/Fantasy, etc.


laughingwolf said...

i'm pretty much like you in this department, other than i include art, animation, photography, writing, outdoors and more, books in my non-fiction

dog-earing books is criminal, i don't care if you do own it! GRRRR

Steve Malley said...

This one's cool! Maybe I'll do this meme too....

Lisa said...

I like this. I think we can tell a lot about a person by their reading habits. First and foremost, readers are classy people :)

I love to cuddle with a book and that is why reading glasses are so so not cool.

Spy Scribbler said...

Oh neat! Happy Anniversary, by the way!

I get so excited by books, that I can start ten at a time. I have trouble finishing them, because I get so excited by the next new book. It's terrible.

Laurie Powers said...

You talk about reading in a casino. A few time I've taken a book to a baseball game to read while I wait for my friend to show up. Sons of Texas was the last one. I may have gotten some weird looks, but then we're talking about people that paint their faces blue and wear Manny Ramirez dreadlocks.

Happy Anniversary, by the way, Charles!

sage said...

Interesting meme---having lived in Northern Nevada, I've read in more than one casino... I need to go back and reread Matthiessen's The Snow Leopard--I read it 25 years ago

Shauna Roberts said...

Thanks for the shout out.

I may try this meme too.

A Paperback Writer said...

That was fun to read, even though I'm an infrequent visitor to your blog. It's amazing how much knowing someone's reading habits helps you get to know that person. When I visit someone's house for the first time, I tend to stare at what they hang on their walls and what's on their bookshelves. If they have no apparent bookshelves, I know I'm probably not going to feel very comfortable in their home.

As for organizing my own books, I do it mostly by use and emotional value to me, although I do mostly keep authors altogether. The books nearest my desk are the ones I value/use the most (my dilapidated Complete Works of Shakespeare, various types of dictionaries and grammar books in several languages, and my complete collection of Edwin Morgan's works.) The books farthest away (on the shelves in the basement) are the books I read very infrequently but like to have when I need them (the Gulag Archipelago, for example). Everything else comes on the shelves in between -- except that in the kitchen it's all cookbooks and nutrition stuff.

Lana Gramlich said...

I can't stand the thought of dog earring books, either. I don't mind highlighting & writing in books I own, but I'm flabbergasted when I see them ret'd to our library that way!
Happy anniversary, baby. You're the best.

ivan said...

I come from an older, more critical, more competitive, non -PC generation, where life was harder, bigotry rife and what would appear to be stupidity on anyone's part was hunted out into the light. To be "special" was to be an asshole. To "eat a vegetable" was to chomp and devour the wheelchair along with the "vegetable". God help you if you were different in any way or part of a minority group. Always somebody on top of you while you were performing a task. "You're not doing that right." at Journalism school, anybody who used the copula verb "to be" in Media class would draw an automatic zero, a doughnut. Fail a multiple choice Economics test and you got the doughnut as well.
Today, in college, everybody seems coddled. If a budding journalist were to sweat over his keyboard, producing gobbledegook, a kinder instructor would say, "Wouldn't you be happier if you took photography?" Must protect the delicate ego. Nobody fails any more. You just change courses.
So when a fellow airman at the base saw me crimping book corners before putting the book away, he said, "Whats the matter with you? No memory? I always remember the page I had been on before I put the book away. Why damage books?"
From that day, I stopped crimping page corners and havben't done it since...and oddly, I always remember the page I had been on.
There was always somebody watching you in the Fifties.
And now, in an an apparetly more tolerant, inclusive age, there is only Big Brother to watch you. And he watches everybody. "YOU'RE NOT DOING THAT RIGHT.".

Barrie said...

Like you, I pretty much don't go anywhere without a book.

the walking man said...

All of that and it's the bending a corner as a page marker that draws ire? It is the amount of bent page corners in any particular book that reminds me how captivating the book was.

The fewer the bent corners the better the book was for me.

Let me look.................Cold in the Light has two bent it must have been a pretty decent read and hard to break away from for any extended period of time.

Charles Gramlich said...

laughingwolf, I read a lot of nature books in nonfic too, although there’s usually some science tie-in. Don’t read anything on art or photography really.

Steve Malley, yep, kinda fun.

Ocean Girl, how one treats their books shows how they treat their lives!

Natasha Fondren, I sometimes do that. I’m not finished with one book but I’m already flirting longingly with the next. I’m definitely a promiscuous book reader.

Laurie Powers, thanks. And yes, I used to take my son to see the Zephyrs play and since he usually had his friends along I’d take a book and do a bit of reading during the boring stretches.

sage, that is one book I reread parts of quite often. I’ve got two copies, one pristine and one with all the best passages marked.

Shauna Roberts, looking forward to getting my copy!

A Paperback Writer, I know what you mean. I feel just a bit uncomfortable when I go to someone’s house and they have no books. The worst for me was visiting a house where they had some nice neat bookshelves, all completely filled with videos. Not a book in sight. I have a shelve on my desk where I keep dictionaries and grammar guides so I don’t have to get up while I’m working to fetch them.

Lana Gramlich, marginalia, especially in nonfiction books, is a long tradition and I certainly mark in those books because it’s part of a conversation with the author. Amazing that someone would do that to a library book, though. Disgusting. Happy day between anniversary and bday today.

ivan, as a current college teacher, I agree, students are often coddled these days. We are told to think of them as our customers rather than students it seems, and the customer is always right! I usually remember the page I’m on as well, or at least whenever I’ve lost my place it doesn’t take me but a moment to find it again. But I still use bookmarks.

Barrie, I’ve even got an emergency book (poetry) stored in my car. In case I forget to bring one.

Mark, trust you to have a different view on bent corners, my friend. I never thought about it that way. I’m glad to hear that Cold in the Light has only two. I might have to use that as a sales pitch in the future.

G. B. Miller said...

I remember getting reamed out by my grandfather when he saw me crimping pages of his books that I would read from time to time.

To this day, I don't crimp, I bookmark.

And sometimes, I go to the end of a chapter, and sometimes, I'll stop in the middle of a page. It all depends on my frame of mind.

And, Happy Anniversary!

Randy Johnson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thumbelina said...

It's interesting to see others' reading habits - thanks for sharing yours.

Three books at once? I get too absorbed in one to manage that!

Randy Johnson said...

I could never dog-ear a page. Hate it when I find a used book and see it's been done.

Marking a nonfiction book, since you teach, makes a lot of sense. Not fiction. I once checked a book from the library and was dismayed to find that someone had used a pen to mark through every word of profanity. I hate that!

Mishandling books is dumb. I once caught a cousin reading a paperback I'd lent him with one hand, folding the cover and pages read behind the spine.I felt like slugging him.

I, too, carry a book everywhere I go. I once forgot I had one in a jacket pocket when I went into a book store. It was embarrassing when the clerk called me on it. I had to show him it was a used book before he would believe me.

Erik Donald France said...

That's cool, got me to thinking, indeed. Makes a lot of sense to differentiate in how you make notes, and other reading habits.

Textbooks that will be kept are definitely open to margin notes. In general, the physical quality of the book is always worth considering, too.

Rowe said...

Hi Charles, great interview, good questions.

JR's Thumbprints said...

I can always count on you to steer me towards another contest. I'm off to check it out.

Charles Gramlich said...

G, I don't remember ever getting into trouble for crimping. I just naturally didn't do it. Maybe because books were rare around our house.

Thumbelina, I should just focus on one but I like to jump around, and at least reading fiction and nonfiction I don't usually show any confusion.

Randy Johnson, it's almost a necessity with textbooks. But yeah, fiction is a different animal. I hate seeing fiction books all marked up too. I learned as a kid that most people don't feel about books the way I did. I loaned a friend some of my favorite books, I didn't get them back till like a year later and they were all dog eared and bent. I was so pissed.

Erik Donald France, marginalia in science books is practically a field of study in it's own right. I find it fascinating.

Rowe, thanks, and thanks for visiting.

JR, it looks like a fun one but I don't think I'll have any chance to enter myself.

writtenwyrdd said...

Oooh, fun! I'll have to do this one.

writtenwyrdd said...

Oh, and thanks for mentioning my contest.

Vesper said...

I enjoyed reading your answers, Charles.

Michelle's Spell said...

Hey Charles,
This is a good meme! I like the question -- favorite reading snack. For me, all food is a reading snack. I don't think I have ever had a meal alone where I wasn't eating. I hear all these food gurus go on and on about mindful eating (?!), but I can only say that a lunch without a book is just plain wrong! And I never go anywhere without a book. I once had to wait for a tire repair for three hours -- thank you for killing the time, Larry McMurty!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks for the book recommendation of the Snow Leopard. I've been meaning to read that for years and I could find it if I alphabetized.

Leigh Russell said...

I can read anywhere, any time. I really like to read in bed before I go to sleep. The trouble is, if it's a good book, I find it hard to stop reading and then I stay up too late.

I called by to thank you, Charles - I came across a review you wrote about Cut Short. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Reading this made me want to go read a book. I have a problem with starting too many books and then not getting back to them even when I really want to read them. I am working on that problem.

It was fun to read your preferences.

Cloudia said...

Marginalia Forever!

Snacks? Yes thanks.

Bookmark of magazine reply card.

Reading is lfe!!
Aloha, Friend

Comfort Spiral

Charles Gramlich said...

writtenwyrdd, it was. And no problem.

Vesper, thankee.

Michelle, I always have a book with me when I have to wait in lines and I see the other folks just staring at me like I'm crazy because I'm reading in line. Crazy like a fox! lol.

pattinase, great great book.

Leigh Russell, I don't often read in bed because I usually only go to bed when I have to. But I read everywhere and anywhere pretty much.

Jack, I have some books I've been reading a story in or a poem in over years but will one day finish them.

Cloudia, agreed!

Mary Witzl said...

I wouldn't dream of dog-earing books, but I am absolutely guilty of flat-open, face-down. The book binders had better be on top of their craft with people like me around...

Happy Birthday, by the way!

Vesper said...

Happy Birthday, Charles! Here's to another year, and many, many more, of good health, and wishes fulfilled, and love, and books to read and to write...
Enjoy your day! :-)

G. B. Miller said...

My grandfather was a voracious reader of the western genre and all of it's sub genres.

I tried sorting it out once when were cleaning his house out several months after he passed away.

I gave up after finding 50 different authors with two and a half medium sized book cases to go (looked like 200-400 paperbacks contain in each one)

cs harris said...

Interesting, Charles. I'm stealing this.

And Happy Birthday, Charles!

Laurie Powers said...

Happy Birthday, Charles! Have a great day!

Ello - Ellen Oh said...

Happy Birthday Charles!!!!! I hope you and Lana have a wonderful trip to Baton Rouge and best of luck with your signings and events!!!!!

Shauna Roberts said...

Happy birthday, Charles!

jodi said...

Charles, made me think and I may steal it for a blog myself Thanks! I love how you and Lana celebrate the moments of your lives. Stay as happy and in love as you are today...

Rick said...

Good God, Charles- it reads like you're being interviewed on Oprah! Wait, that's a good thing, isn't it?

Charles Gramlich said...

Mary Witzl, thanks!

Vesper, thanks. Yes, more books please.

G, oh man, that would have been a great find for me. Love me some westerns.

Candy, well I stole it from somewhere else. And thanks!

Laurie Powers, thank you. Much appreciated.

Ello, thanks. I'll take all the luck anyone can wish me right now.

Shauna Roberts, thankee!

jodi, we've got it pretty good indeed. It's good to have.

Rick,I'd be moer than happy to be on Oprah.

Travis Cody said...

It makes me sad when I see the binding broken in a book. I'm always careful never to lay a book flat, or to open it too far.

SzélsőFa said...

a very interesting meme indeed - I'm thinking of doing the same in my blog, too.
Happy Anniversary!

Perplexio said...

Sorry, I'm a bit late to the game but I've got to agree with you about writing in books:

Marking books gives them character. I've got a copy of Douglas Coupland's Life After God with my favorite passages highlighted. It's got coffee stains, and some of the pages are falling out. But I refuse to part with it as it has character.

Charles Gramlich said...

Travis, yes, once the spine is broken pages will almost inevitably begin to fall out.

SzélsőFa, it was kind of fun. Thanks.

Perplexio, that's true. I have some books like that too and they are precious to me.