Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Reading Too Fast

I got a lot of books for presents for Christmas. Which is good because that's how it should be for everyone, not just writers and readers.
Nothing is better than a stack of brand new, shiny books to read on my nightstand.

Here are the new books, however not on my nightstand

The only problem I find is that I'm a fast reader, especially when I have a pile of new books, each one as exciting to read as the next.

So then I start to panic about reading the books too fast.

If I read them too fast, a few things are bound to happen:

1. I realize the holidays are officially over and I have a few months of doldrums and cold weather to get through before the season changes and I can go outside again without the risk of death by freezing.

2. I find I don't absorb each individual book. Unless it's a spectacular stand-alone book, years later I will look back and won't remember the author or really much about the book (this negative, however, can have a positive as well - because this means if I like the book enough to keep it for rereading purposes, when I do reread it, it will surprise me all over again!)

3. I will have read all of my books and have nothing new to read.

#3 of course, is mostly ridiculous. I have many bookshelves in my house with many unread books from when I spent a few years as a bookseller. Granted, I've noticed over the last few years that the books on the shelves have transitioned from "mostly unread" to "mostly read", but there are still quite a few books I have to read. And every once in awhile I find a book on a shelf that turns into a new favorite. Like Karin Lowachee's Warchild. When I finally got around to reading that last year, I absolutely loved it and was sad to know it had been sitting on my shelves, unread, for years.

Also, I like to shop for new books, either for specifc reads I want to buy, or by just browsing. So the idea that I'll be "out" of books to read is mostly nonsense.

Anyway what I'm getting at is after the holidays, when I have a new stack of books, I try to slow down on my reading. But this also has its own flaws. I'm not a slow reader at heart (unless I'm just not enjoying the book) so going against my nature can be irritating. It also means setting a book down right when it starts to get good. Depending on the book this can lead to a general sense of anxiety.

Also, in the back of my head, I know that slowing down is the wrong thing to do because there will always be more books than I can ever possibly read, so slowing down is not the answer.

But I just can't help it, looking at all those pretty new books!


Teebore said...

The saddest day of my life was the day I realized that when I die, I will die with movies I want to see and books I want to read unseen and unread. There's simply not enough years in a life to get through it all.

Which is why I could never intentionally slow down my reading. Life does a good enough job of limiting the time I have to read, so when I do get the time, man, I have to power through that shit as fast as I can.

I know what you mean though; reading that fast sometimes make it feel inconsequential, but I guess that's the price I have to pay.

I had an ironic Christmas this year, in that everyone else received more books than me. Which wasn't a big deal, because I buy myself PLENTY of books. It was just kinda funny that my wife got this huge stack of books and my father-in-law got five or six and I got three.

Anne said...

I also sometimes get bummed when i realize i'm flying through a book, mostly because if it's good i feel like i'm limiting the amount of time i get to spend enjoying it.
But meh, there's always other good books.

I expect you to power through these Assassin books so we can chat about their awesomeness.
Also, i want to read Warchild again. We should buy a legit copy to keep.


Stark Raving Zen said...

Are we the same damn person?! I have these same issues! My husband recently read the Brent Weeks series and loved it. It's on my monumental to-read list, which is quickly spinning out of control.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Palindrome said...

You wanna know something one ever buys me books. Ever! I know I have plenty, believe me I counted. But not even one?! I don't even get gift certificates to places where they sell books.
I get bath stuff. BATH STUFF?! I either look like a person who doesn't bath enough or spends all her free time bathing. Neither would be acurate.
I say read! Consume as fast as you can! I keep a book journal so if I don't really remember a book, I always have that to look back on. And if I really loved it, I'll just read it again. Books go faster the second time and you catch things you missed the second time.
Although, I find myself slowing down on books I really love because I don't want them to be over. So I hold off finishing for a few days and then I plow through them so fast it's ridiculous but fun.

I love books.

Falen said...

Palindrome - you keep a book journal too? Jesus. But with the Bath stuf, you can READ and TAKE A BATH at the same time! I take a LOT of baths purely for that reason.

Zen - Maybe we are! I'd say you're my twin, but i already have one of those...

Anne - but they're Christmas books! They're extra special! And i'll go through them at my own pace, thank you. When are you going to read those last three wraethu books?
I think Warchild was one of the best books i read in a long time.

Teebore - yeah i try not to think about dying and the stuff i'll miss - i just hope that i'm not waiting for "Harry Potter 17, Voldemort Again?" when i finally kick the bucket cuz i need to read that. right. now.

Teebore said...

Ha! Yeah, there's a part of me that hopes that Marvel and DC have long since stopped publishing comics by the time I kick it, just so I don't have to imagine never knowing what happens in Uncanny X-Men #505432.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Palindrome said...

yeah, I'm a bit of a freak when it comes to keeping track of all my books.

Eva O'Dell said...

I read fast when I do read, but lately I'm writing too much to read. I usually try to read and write equally but I am obsessed with my WIP. I have about 6 or 7 books begging to be read while they collect dust on my nightstand. Think of it this way, if you read them too fast, there are a million more a click away!

Falen said...

Eva - i was just thinking that the other day, how reading an awesome book actually interferes with my writing - if the book is an OK book then there's no problem, but if the book is one i can't put down, then that's when the struggles begin.
I probably should just stop reading when i'm in the middle of writing, but i just can't justify that to myself.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...