My reading rules

Spotted via Zite today: My reading rules, which is a response to a post at Bookriot. The Bookriot post is a post that is “a list of my (many!) seemingly arbitrary rules for reading. Once I got started, though, I discovered that those rules actually tell you so much about me that they double as personality traits.”

Yes, predictably, I have to ponder: what are my rules?

1. I like to make note of quotes: interesting sentences or phrases. Over the years I have accumulated stacks of notebooks of these quotes, my very own Commonplace Books. Of course, I have to make these notes using a fountain pen. I ought to look over these notebooks. I’m not sure how well the ink has survived.

2. Read one book at a time. If I must read a second book, it has to be non fiction. That is, one fiction, one non fiction. Although I’m completely messing with this rule at the moment: I’m reading one novel, Dorothy Dunnett’s The Game of Kings, two non fiction works, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey, and 99U’s Manage Your Day-to-day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus and Sharpen Your Creative Mind, plus one work of poetry, Gilgamesh (the David Ferry rendering). No wonder I’m slightly discombobulated. (I don’t know why I have broken this rule.)

3. Until now I’ve been a non-marginalia, non-underliner/highlighter. I’m actually trying to change this habit and have begun, with Gilgamesh, to mark the book I’m reading. This, because I’m trying to follow Susan Wise Bauer’s advice. From The Well-Educated Mind: The Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had:

Underline in your books, jot notes in the margins, and turn the corners of your pages down. Public education is a beautiful dream, but public classrooms too often train students not to mark, write in, disfigure, or in any way make books permanently their own. You’re a grownup now, so buy your own books if you possibly can. The lists recommend affordable paperback editions whenever available.

If you know that you can turn down the corner of a confusing page and keep reading, or write a question in the margin and continue on, you’ll find it easier to keep going on the first reading. If you have to use library books, invest in adhesive-backed notes (such as Post-its) and use them to mark pages that you’ll want to return to; scribble your notes and questions on them. Bits of paper tend to fall out, though, and any good book will soon look like a papery porcupine. Defacing your book is much more efficient.

All I’ll say at this point: it’s hard to change the habit of a lifetime, to do something you’ve avoided doing all this while.


4. Don’t break the spine, but apart from that, there’s no need to handle a book with kid gloves. It has to be read, after all.

5. I binge-read. As in, I prefer to wait for a series to be completed and then read the whole lot of books one after another.

6. I’d rather read the book than watch the movie. Definitely read the book before seeing the movie.

7. Life’s too short. If the book isn’t doing it for me, I stop reading it. With regret, yes, but I stop.

8. A variation of rule #7: don’t read something just because everybody else is reading it or says it’s the Best Book Ever. Hence, I have not read Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, or Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things. (Rule 7 applied in both these books’ cases. I just couldn’t get into them.) Fifty Shades of Grey? Not a genre that appeals to me.

9. Read everyday.

10. With my current “classical education” challenge, I’ve discovered that I do still love paper books, yes. But I do love love love the ease and convenience of ebooks. So the point here is that I love books. (Ugh, to be a cliché, a librarian who loves books.)

Aiya, ten rules already.

So what are your rules?

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