How I Read

Before I started blogging, there wasn't really an answer to the question of "How do you read?" I probably would've given you a puzzled look and sarcastically explained, "I open the book, look at the words, and friggin' read." Now that I'm blogging, of course, it's a little more complex than that.

Confession number one, before I get to any note-taking methods or other quirks, is that I read quickly. My reading speeds might be perfectly average compared to other book bloggers (I don't really have a good way to compare, after all), but I definitely read faster than anyone I've ever met in real life. (I've never had many book-oriented friends.) So I think I learned to read with a different style than many--perhaps most--people; instead of chipping away at a book over the course of a few days or more, I sit down and read a book. Literally just like that. I sit down, shut up, and read the whole thing, whether it takes a solid hour or five. So while many readers, including bloggers, like to slowly taste, chew, and digest a story--which is a gross metaphor now that I think about it--I consume books in a single sitting. (And I'm fairly sure so many years of reading this way has helped give me a serious aversion to delayed gratification.)

Now, of course it's not possible to do every book that way. No matter how much I enjoyed reading A Game of Thrones, there was no way I was ever going to be able to sit down and read that entire behemoth all at once. (Though I did read Order of the Phoenix in one sitting...) But for the most part, I can't stop myself. Unless I'm literally falling asleep while trying to read or bored out of my damn mind, I just can't set a book down; "un-put-down-able" isn't a compliment to me, it's just a fact for any book that isn't either enormous or completely dull.

So that's the first thing that colors my reading experiences. I may or may not be completely weird here--I truly don't know if other people read this way. I don't think most do, but if you do--let me know!

Now for the note-taking. I didn't bother with it at first. What was the point, I wondered, if I read books in one sitting?

Well, it turns out that reading an entire story within a few hours--usually a much shorter timespan than the events of the story occur within--leaves a lot of room for forgetting details. So now I note-take as I go along, jotting down a brief who's who, important plot developments, questions and predictions, and any little complaints that I have along the way.

For a while, I was doing this in spiral notebooks. Except I had a bad habit of misplacing notebooks and generally being rather disorganized with the whole system. So now I use loose leaf paper and a binder, and it works wonders.

The binder has three main sections:

  1. Pages in progress
  2. Reviews to be written
  3. Reviews written
There are always very few pages in progress, given the way I read. Anything "in progress" is either going to be something that I'm not enjoying and have set aside for the time being, something that's quite long and impossible to read without taking breaks, or something that I happened to be reading when my break was cut short for some reason (usually because I've misjudged how tired I am on a particular night!). Right now, I have two pages in progress.

Reviews to be written and reviews written are both obvious, I suppose, but I do wish my ratio between the two was better; at the moment, there's an abundance of papers in the former category that should long since have progressed to the latter. But like I said yesterday, I've had a lazy past six months.

Anyway, I think that's about it for how I read. Tell me what you think--got any suggestions? Think I'm utterly nuts to read the way I do? Am I missing out on the magical experience that is reading a book in tiny tidbits? Let me know in the comments!

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