Monday, October 12, 2009

Reading Habits

This one’s been making the rounds for the past few days. I’ve enjoyed reading other people’s responses, so I thought I’d add my own.

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack:

Unfortunately for my weight, I do, especially when I’m reading late at night. It’s usually chips or ice cream.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?
No, I never write in a book. If there’s something I need to remember or quote, say in a blog post, I might mark it with a post-it note, which is then removed as soon as I don’t need it anymore.

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open?
Bookmarks, always. I have dozens of them, mostly from various bookstores.

Fiction, nonfiction, or both?
95% fiction, and most of the non-fiction I read tends to be about writers or writing. I read quite a bit of non-fiction for research, but I tend to count that as “work” rather than “reading”.

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of a chapter, or can you stop anywhere?
End of chapter if possible, but I’m not fanatic about it.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop and look it up right away?
No, and I’m usually too lazy to go and look it up later.

What are you currently reading?
BIG LOBO, a Nevada Jim Western by Marshall McCoy. (Much more about this later in the week.)

What is the last book you bought?
LONGARM AND THE SHOTGUN MAN by Tabor Evans (in this case, Peter Brandvold)

Are you the type of person that reads one book at a time, or can you read more than one?
I have several short story collections and anthologies that I’m slowly working my way through, reading a story here and there between novels, but I only read one novel at a time.

Do you have a favorite time/place to read?
A very wise man once told me, “The trouble with a writing career is that it interferes with your reading time.” That’s certainly true. I read a little in the morning while I’m eating breakfast, maybe thirty minutes, and I read at night before I go to bed, maybe half an hour to an hour, depending on how sleepy I am. Very occasionally I find a little time to read at home during the day. But I always take a book along whenever I have to take someone to the doctor, for example, or go anywhere else I might have to wait for a few minutes. When our kids were still in school and too young to drive, I always took a book along when I went to pick them up in the afternoon, or took them to dance classes or Girl Scout meetings or things like that. Grab every minute you can to read, I say.

Do you prefer series books or stand alones?
No real preference, although I’ve probably read more series books over the years than stand-alones.

Is there a specific book or author you find yourself recommending over and over?
Robert E. Howard. All-time favorite author, etc. People often ask me to recommend Western authors, and since the people asking are usually crime fiction fans, I tend to recommend the darker, more hardboiled Western writers such as Ed Gorman, H.A. De Rosso, Lewis B. Patten, Luke Short, and T.T. Flynn.

How do you organize your books?(by genre, title, author’s last name, etc.)
Before the fire I had them categorized and then alphabetized by the author’s last name within those categories, although with house-name books I tended to put them all together. I’m still in the process of getting new shelves built for my new collection (actually, I’m not building them, Livia is), but once they’re in place, the plan is to not categorize but to put everything together and alphabetize by the author’s last name, and by that I mean the name actually on the book, whether it’s a house-name, personal pseudonym, or whatever. We’ll keep paperbacks, trade paperbacks, and hardbacks separate from each other, though.


Richard Prosch said...

Your reading a book in short increments brought something additional to mind: do you ever also write in five or ten minute bursts? In his memoir, Asimov writes about regularlry scribbling paragraphs on napkins or notepads while away from the desk.

Pericles said...

Robert E. Howard was a wonderful writer.

Laurie Powers said...

Thanks for doing this Jim. It's fun to learn these things about our fellow bloggers.

Charles Gramlich said...

I do the same thing with short story collections. I've got half a dozen stacked up with book marks in them at various places. I'll read a story here and there.

James Reasoner said...


I might occasionally jot down a note about something when I'm away from the desk, but actual writing, no. I usually write anywhere from forty-five minutes to an hour and a half between breaks. (And those breaks are usually short.)