25 things for the books

My friend Lorna did this post about books, and I wanted to do one too. Because list posts are apparently my thing. And me and books go way back. And I want my blog to be cool like hers.

This, however, is pretty dense for a list post. I apparently have a lot to say about books.

  1. I learned to read because my mother had the audacity to read in front of me, and I was mad at her for ignoring me. So I learned to read so I could ignore her. Now I read while I ignore my own children. The circle of life.
  2. My reading life is divided into two eras: Before Children and After Children.
    • BC: I read a book a week, minimum. My tastes leaned towards the sci-fi and horror. I did a stint with mystery/suspense and thrillers, and another with chick lit, but had pretty well burned out on both. In the book versus e-reader wars, I was firmly on the book side — though the Kindle concept did appeal to my Discardian heart. If I started a book, almost without exception, I finished it.
    • AC: I read a book a year, if I’m lucky. I usually read on my phone, because my kids love nothing more than to rip covers off of books. The phone is also a lot easier to hold than a book while nursing a squirmy toddler. Mostly I’ve been reading blogs (topics generally revolve around parenting, history, food, and writing, with way more appearances by politics than I ever thought I’d see), because they’re short and don’t require my full attention. But now that the kids are a little older and more independent, I’ve started working books back into the mix.
  3. I have noticed a change in my reading habits now that I read more online. With few exceptions, if a post includes a list plus intro text, I never read the intro text. In a related fashion, I now find myself skimming books — something I never did before. (Okay, in college a few times, when the author went on for 20 pages about the verdure. Trees are pretty, yes. Move along.) Also, now I feel free to stop reading a book that doesn’t suck me in. Plenty more where that came from. My reading time is precious; don’t waste it.
  4. I first read Carrie when I was 9. I got it at Kmart. I was drawn to the cover, time and again, and the synopsis on the book jacket was so intriguing. Week after week I looked at it, until finally I gave in to my curiosity and bought it. My reading habits were never the same.
  5. I’m still searching for a favorite genre in this postpartum world. I have trouble with pretty much any story that leads a character to be hurt either physically or emotionally, because motherhood has turned me into a bleeding heart with legs. Disney is too hardcore for me lately.
  6. As a result of the previous point, I’ve come to appreciate what I consider cotton-candy lit. Books I can plow through in a sitting, that are light, preferably funny, and not too emotionally or mentally taxing. Janet Evanovich is my current go-to. But my soul longs for more substantial reads.
  7. Authors of note, in no particular order: Jonathan Tropper, Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child (separately and together), Robert Fulghum, Dean Koontz, John Irving, Pat Conroy, Neil Gaiman, Nick Hornby, Billie Letts, Ethan Hawke. And Stephen King. Always Stephen King. (I keep adding to this list as I write. I will nevertheless forget someone.)
  8. My to-read pile is a double-stacked shelf (and growing). I used to feel guilty about not getting through it faster, but as I don’t plan to die soon, I’m going easier on myself. I miss reading, but it’s not like I will never read again. Soon enough the kids will be teenagers, and I’ll need something to pass the time while waiting them to come home on Friday nights.
  9. I now hold two library cards, and have plans for a third. I’m hoping to eventually get around to checking out books for myself, but right now it’s all about the little readers I’m trying to cultivate. (It’s working, too.)
  10. On bookmarks:
    • I am a dirty, dirty dog-earer. But not of other people’s books. I’m not a total savage. I just hate losing my place, and do not have good luck with bookmarks.
    • I hate book jackets on principle, but they do make pretty good bookmarks. Unless you’re reading a hardcover Stephen King; the flap has trouble reaching into the center of his books.
    • One of the nicest things about the Kindle is it keeps your place for you. What it doesn’t do is tell you what was going on in the story when three months go by between reading sessions. But at least it offers the Search feature; that helps me piece the plot together.
  11. On writing in books: I used to make the distinction between textbooks and leisure books. Textbooks I wrote in often. Leisure books I never wrote in. Then I began underlining passages that resonated with me — in pencil at first, so lightly you couldn’t really see the line, then more boldly. I see now that this shift marks the transition from me merely observing the text and me beginning to interact with it.
  12. I usually read in bed, while suffering from insomnia for one reason or another. If the children are playing nicely, I’ll squeeze in a bit of reading while they’re awake, but usually I stick to blogs and other short texts during their rowdy hours.
  13. I was well over the coming of age trope for a while there, but I’m coming around to it again. Not because I long for my own coming of age years — I’ve never missed them — but because I’m looking at them from the eyes of a mother now. However, I am done with the suffering porn — I don’t care how uplifting it is in the end, I don’t really want to go down into the pits. I’m also done with 30-somethings dating. And graphic sex; in this case, telling me is perfectly okay. You don’t have to give me the play-by-play.
  14. The last book I read was a Veronica Mars book, because I’m still in denial that the show went off the air. Even though Veronica Mars is now in her mid-30s. I’ve also been circling a Joe Hill book (it’s a good book, Joe; I just keep forgetting where I was and having to start over), and skimming the latest Bridget Jones book even though I’m not really enjoying it.
  15. All three of the aforementioned books I have on Kindle. Back when I was walking regularly, I would read Joe Hill while I walked. And felt a certain kinship with his dad, though I was safely ensconced on a walking track.
  16. I’m a completist. It takes me a lot to give up on a series. I’ve read the other Bridget books to pieces, for example, so it’s hard for me to admit I don’t like this one. But for once, the movie really was better. (And the movie was pretty dumb, tbh.)
  17. Speaking of books and movies and series, there needs to be a book series of the Before Sunrise films. Has anyone done that yet? If not…well, maybe I will. When I manage to write again. Which will be any day now, I swear.
  18. One more screen/book overlap: I love when Jane the Virgin talks about writing. I am not into romance as a genre, but when she talks about writing, it inspires me to work on my own writing. And oh, how I miss writing workshops. Jane the Virgin should not, however, be a book. That wouldn’t work as well.
  19. If I really like a book, I’ll reread it time and again. I especially reread during times of emotional upset, because it’s comforting to me to revisit a favorite story. I also love seeing what I get out of rereadings. Stephen King’s Dark Tower references, for instance, pop out at me from the most unlikely places.
  20. I used to keep all my books after I read them. Then space became a real issue; I had 6 bookshelves in my apartment, and every single shelf was double- or triple-stacked. I didn’t have the money or the floor space for more bookshelves. So I got rid of everything except the books I knew I’d read again.
  21. An exception to that rule is Stephen King. Some of his books I do reread; I’m on my second copy of The Stand. I never wanted to teach, especially literature, but if I did teach, I’d want to teach a course on Stephen King. And I could teach a course on Stephen King. Hell, I could teach a course on The Stand. But even if I don’t really see myself rereading a book of his, I’ll keep it. The only King book I ever got rid of was Tommyknockers. I tried so hard (really — I read it three times!) to like that book, but I just can’t.
  22. I used to be a total book snob. I used to look down on people for reading genres I felt were less than — romance, for instance. I don’t feel that way anymore. You do you.
  23. The reason I did not pursue writing in college was largely because I had a crisis of faith in high school and deemed that writing simply wasn’t a worthy enough profession. Writing was what one did for fun. I wasted several years in college before I came back around to words, and even then I determined that writing creatively was a waste of time. So what do I do? I edit. And long for the time to write.
  24. I’ve never gotten into audiobooks. I know a lot of people listen to them, and honestly I’d get to read a lot more if I were one of them.  But my mind wanders.
  25. One exception to that: Nearly every night, the kids and I listen to the Calm bedtime stories. We read our own books beforehand, a tradition that goes back to when I was Kai’s age. Then we turn out the lights and listen to a meditative bedtime story. Most nights it puts me to sleep, as well. It really is nice, being read to sleep.
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