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Reading Books for Fun

In my youth, as a child, (ages 4 to 28) I read books with a dedicated fascination that probably averaged about 7 to 10 titles a week. Somewhat less during college, especially since I was also supporting myself by then, but the inflow of SF, fantasy, mystery, and science books was pretty steady.

In 1988 I opened my very own (with help, of course!) bookstore, expanding my availability of titles while focusing the subject matter more than before. By 1995 the pressures of running the shop plus raising my son resulted in a slow but permanent decline in the number of books I read. While my knowledge of what was coming out improved, my time to read them myself had all but vanished.

After I closed the shop in 2004, I (I think reasonably) expected my old reading rate to reemerge. And it just ... didn't. I still loved books, and every month or so one title or another would make it through the gauntlet of distractions, isolation and availability that my life on this little island had become. but I no longer even knew what things were on the horizon, or actively looked for my next book to read.

For the last two years, dedication to my master's degree meant that even the rare gem of a title I was really interested in did not get acquired. And now I've come full circle - out of school, still looking for full-time work (although my part-time job is a great deal of fun), and beginning to rediscover that book hunger from before.

I can even see the inspirations that have brought me back home. Book View Cafe is an amazing and dynamic group of authors who have formed a collective to get their older out-of-print books back into the hands of their readers, primarily as ebooks, but also with links to the paper copies when available. Between the free chapters they post, and their daily blog I've been reintroduced to a delicious array of options.

Another terrible (i.e. wonderful) influence has been Webscription which began life as Baen Books ebook outreach, and now looks to be the growing outlet for quite a number of my favorite publishers. I haven't been buying books just for pleasure in years, and the first to break this icy hold was the pre-release eARC of Mouse and Dragon by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. I also picked up ebook versions of Fledgling and Saltation while I was at it.

Just a couple of weeks ago Books On Paper got their own enabler, when Phil and Kaja lent me the first two Seanan McGuire books, Rosemary and Rue and A Local Habitation. Besides the very real joy of reading good new books, this triggered the almost lost to memory yearning to get the next book - An Artificial Night is already out, just, and I know what I'm going to be reading next.

Last and most recent on the enabling list is that yesterday we swapped our very fine elliptical trainer (which I could not read books while using) for a very fine treadmill (which I have better hopes for). So we'll see what happens!

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
johnridley
Oct. 3rd, 2010 07:37 pm (UTC)
I'm pretty jealous of people who can get through books quickly. My reading speed has never been good despite following a few suggested techniques for improving it. It's better than it was but even so, I couldn't get through 7 titles a week if I did nothing else every hour I was awake. Well, OK, maybe then, IF they weren't very long titles, like maybe 400 pages or so I could get through in a 16 hour day. Yes, that's about 2 minutes per page. I can read words far faster than that, but if I do, I have no idea what I just read when I get to the bottom of the page.

If I include going to work, if I were to just stop doing anything else at home besides sleeping and eating, I might be able to do 4 titles a month.

A few years ago I suddenly realized that I hadn't read a SINGLE book in nearly 3 years. This was ridiculous enough to make me pledge to do better, and that's why you see posts from me whenever I finish a book, and every-6-month summaries. Also I started using audiobooks extensively since then I can get through books while working/cleaning/commuting, which is the vast majority of my non-work, non-sleep time.

On print, I only have about 15 to 30 minutes a day to read (in bed), which, yes, means I typically read 4 to 15 pages a day. Once in a while I'll go nuts and sit down and read for a couple of hours at a stretch, or stay up way too late to finish a book then pay the price the next day, but even so I only get through perhaps 6 to 8 titles a year.
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alicebentley
Alice Bentley

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