In a comment on the previous post, Prashant C. Trikannad says, among other things:
Would you consider writing about your reading habits? For instance, the process of selecting and acquiring the books you hope to read, the time you spend reading every day, assimilating what you have read and then putting them up on your blog, perhaps even a regular list of interesting books for the rest of us to read...you get the drift.
A long time ago, a wise man once told me “The problem with writing is that it interferes with your reading time.” That’s all too true. I was a reader long before I was a writer, and if the writing went away I’m sure I’d continue to read. These days, I read a little in the morning, while I’m eating breakfast and while I’m lingering over my coffee, if I think I can spare the time from whatever I’m working on. And I read some at night, usually between ten o’clock and midnight. That’s about it, although every so often I manage grab fifteen or twenty minutes sometime during the day to read. Luckily, I’m a fast reader and always have been, so I can get through quite a few books that way. I’m not a speed reader, and I don’t skim much at all, but when I do read, the pages go by pretty quickly.
In 1980 I started keeping a list of all the books I read. Although the lists are gone, lost in the fire (except for the ones for the past three years), I remember that I never read less than 100 books in a year, and most years I read somewhere between 120 and 150. So that’s ten to twelve books per month.
Choosing what to read used to be done almost entirely by whim, just whatever appealed to me at the moment. For the most part, it’s still that way, although these days more people send me review copies or manuscripts that I’ve agreed to blurb or books for which I’m writing introductions. The thing of it is, nearly all of these are books that I want to read anyway, so I still consider it pleasure reading. There are also occasions when I have to read books in a series where I’m going to be writing some of them. Even though you could call that research, I still enjoy it. And sometimes I read actual research books. Mostly, though, it’s still a matter of “Ooh, that looks good!” or “Ooh, that would make a good Forgotten Books post!”
I buy used books at Half Price Books, on the Internet, and occasionally at other used bookstores. I buy new books on the Internet, either from Amazon or directly from the publisher. I know I should buy more new books from brick-and-mortar stores, but I’m hardly ever anywhere close to one. There was a time when I would say, “This looks interesting, I might read it someday” and buy it. Now, because of the shortage of space, time, and money, I try to be a little more discriminating. I try to hold my purchases down to books that I actually intend to read in the reasonably near future. Of course it doesn’t work out that way. No matter how long I live, I’ll never read all the books I have. I know that. Doesn’t stop me from buying more, because in the words of that same wise man, “You never regret the books you buy, only the books you didn’t buy.”
I blog about most of the books I read, but not all. There are several reasons I won’t blog about a book. The most common is that I didn’t like it. I don’t mind pointing out a few flaws in a book, especially if I can talk about the things I liked in it, too. But I’m not going to really rip a book here, especially not one by a living author. I’m not getting paid to be a critic. I’m just a guy saying, “Hey, I read this book that was really good, you ought to read it.” Anyway, if I start a book and think it’s really terrible, I usually don’t finish it, and I’m not going to blog about a book I didn’t finish. Another reason I might not blog about a book I liked is that it would be difficult to talk about it without getting into divisive issues like politics or religion, topics I tend to steer clear of on this blog. I have definite opinions on such things, but I don’t think you’re here to read ’em. Then there are the oddball books nobody but me would have any interest in. This doesn’t come up very often, but it still does every now and then. But mostly, what I read, I blog about. My reading list so far this year is up to 113 books, and I’ve blogged about 94 of them. Some of the ones I haven’t blogged about were ARCs or review copies, and I’ll have posts about them when the books actually come out. So I think that’s a pretty good percentage.
A few years ago I did an end-of-the-month update post every month, listing all the books I’d read and the movies I’d seen that month, whether I blogged about them or not. I might try that again next year, if I can remember the idea that long.
Archie Joscelyn - Western Author
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