Recently, my reading habits have been pleasantly satisfying. If not something that I can be proud of, or anything that’s comparable to the voracious readers I know of, at least I am glad they are far improved. It is only the start of September and I have already met my Goodreads challenge– 4 books ahead of schedule. I understand it was a small target this time – book a month – but I was worried I would not meet even that. I am happy that I did it so comfortably.
It is the use of Audible that has led me to at least stay on track for the “book a month” target. Every credit I got in the month was excitedly utilized. I say “excitedly” because I used to be keen to get a new credit and identify a new book at the start of every month. Of course, it meant I had to change the habits of my “reading” – rather listening. No podcasts. No music in car. It had to be a book.
I thought I would always have one. This month proved that would not be the case always. I was through with the audiobook — the brilliant second in the Discworld series from Terry Pratchett — in the first week itself. Audible is wonderful!
This allowed me time to kindle my reading habit next. So, well, my old Kindle had to get recharged and be ready to serve. And serve it did. It was great to complete reading one book and get in the middle of another — right after finishing the audible book. There are times when I can’t listen — or may be I can avoid listening. Especially when I have a limited time at hand. For example while standing in a short queue. Kindle app on my phone has taken that mind space. It is better than letting the stream of some social network, mainly Twitter or YouTube, pollute my mind with some useless posts.
So August was brilliant from reading perspective for me – 2.5 books read. I want to continue doing so in the remaining year too.
There is one book that I just can’t get back to, the latest in the Cormoron Strike from J.K.Rowling. This one has stayed there in the list of my “currently reading” books for more than a year now. I am ~30% in. And I am no way inclined to pick it up again. It is not that I do not enjoy the Strike series. I do. I have throughly enjoyed the first three books. But there is something about the latest one, or the time when I am reading it and the state of my mind, that makes me uninterested in story it narrates. Or the way it narrates it.
I may have to drop it for now, move it to couldn’t complete. May I will attempt to read it again with a fresh perspective. And at a new phase.
I keep mentioning every time I get a chance that I am too picky while selecting the books I read. So it was fascinating to read few suggestions from Austin Kleon on how to read more. Especially his first tip – quit reading books you don’t like
It helps if you choose the right books in the first place. Stop reading what you think you should be reading and just read what you genuinely want to read.
Yep, I follow this rule diligently. And I have my own list of “gems” that just aren’t for me.
I also keep my currently reading list loaded with multiple books at a time. Some are as audiobooks, some as e-books. (It’s been very long since I read a paperback and it was primarily because I just don’t enjoy them.)
Feel free to read promiscuously — date 3 or 4 books at the same time until one makes you want to settle down with it.
I do that, but not for the reason Austin mentions. I just like to hop between books at times. Many a times before I give up on one.
I really liked these quotes that Austin has included in his post. Ah, I think I need to read a lot more.
Nobody is going to get any points in heaven by slogging their way through a book they aren’t enjoying but think they ought to read.
There is only one way to read, which is to browse in libraries and bookshops, picking up books that attract you, reading only those, dropping them when they bore you, skipping the parts that drag — and never, never reading anything because you feel you ought, or because it is part of a trend or a movement. Remember that the book which bores you when you are twenty or thirty will open doors for you when you are forty or fifty — and vice-versa. Don’t read a book out of its right time for you.
—Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook
I read a paperback recently; an incident that made me realise how wrong I had been to believe one will always feel nostalgic towards books with real paper. There indeed was a time when I used to look down on eBooks as format. I knew I wasn’t alone, the debate was on. I used to think reading them is futile, a fleeting pleasure. A pathway for a lazy few; the ones who do not appreciate the feel of a paperback in their hands.
That was before Kindle happened.
EBooks all the way
It was gradually that I started rejoicing eBooks. It was via the Kindle app first, mostly on my iPad. The built in dictionary was one of the most useful feature that pulled me in. It helps a lot when a person, not well-versed in English, can simply select a word to fathom its meaning. No need stretching out to fetch a dictionary and scan for the word. Either that or to make some broken sense out of the sentence without knowing the word. Not an experience one can call satisfactory.
There was another feature that I benefitted from the most, sync to the furthest read position. Be it an iPad, iPhone or the Kindle web reader extension, be it home, office or a lengthy queue of a supermarket, my book was always available, synced to where I had left it earlier. There is some relief in not maintaining a physical book and the nosy bookmarks. They are played with, they are misplaced, they are lost. They even are hinderance sometimes, often when you are in-fact reading. (Isn’t that generally a time one holds a book anyway?)
eBooks came handy. But there was still an issue I faced. iPads were heavy, iPhones tiny. Paperbacks (mostly) are best by size and weight. You hold them, read even at a stretch and don’t feel you have lost a limb. With iPads? Well, they really are not made for reading in long stretches. Not at least the iPad 2, which I own. Most of the time is spent in finding the perfect surface for resting the iPad on. Not really a painless experience. Inadvertently, I ended up reading on iPhone more.
Kindles, the hardware, had just recently launched in India. I knew there were benefits to them. For one, they were made with reading as sole purpose. So they were designed to be best fit by size and weight. I had heard so many stories of how it changed people’s reading habits, made them read more. I knew I wanted one. A bit of research, a bit of playing around with them. I decided I wanted one. For reasons of mine (which I would go into someday), I settled on the Kindle, 6″ E Ink Display (Prev. Generation) with page turning keys, the non-touch screen one.
And the reading experience has never been the same again. I am reading more, I am reading longer. Surprisingly, it has made my wife too into an avid reader. A person who rarely considered reading as her hobby, she spends good amount of time finding and reading books. Paperbacks, ones with real pages, could never do that. eBooks did, especially Kindle.
So coming back to a paperback, it did turn out to be a painful experience. Holding the book was troublesome. Bookmarking was troublesome. Turning pages was troublesome. Wanting to read the book at office was worthless. At one point, I wanted to stop reading it in between, buy an ebook version and continue. The nostalgia, induced by the scent of real pages, can only take you so far. eBooks, for me, have ruined the pleasure of the physical books. Kindle has owned me now; and I can never go back.