Discovering the world of book blogging has had some wonderful, positive effects on my reading life. For instance, before book blogging, I never tracked my reading. I didn’t know how many books I read. And because I read so many, I forgot many of the titles I’d read. I would have hazy memories of a particular book or even a cover, but the title would elude me. This was frustrating because some of these books I wanted to revisit or talk about, but without a title it was quite useless. And yet, it never occurred to me to make lists of all my reading.
Once I realized other readers were keeping dedicated lists of their books read each year, I eagerly followed suit. The first year, I was blown away by how many books I read without any effort. It wasn’t quite a hundred books, yet it was plentiful. I had no idea that was how much I read. For the next couple of years, my reading increased quite a bit. At my high point I was reading an average of ten books a month. Then my reading decreased to pre-blogging levels.
At first this bummed me out. It’s not so much that I see myself in competition with others. I don’t. Everyone’s time limits and rates of reading vary so much. I am still amazed by those that can read hundreds of books in a year. But I do feel like I am in competition with myself. I want my reading to be constant. I want to read the same number of books every year. There are so many books to get to, I don’t want to read less.
One result of this internal competition is that I have seemed to shy away from the Big Books. You know, the chunksters. I’m not saying I used to read chunksters all the time, but I never thought much of the size of the book. Big books titillated rather than intimidated. I used to get quite excited by them because that meant I got more time with it. The story wouldn’t be over too soon. I have the fondest memories of the week or two I spent with The Mists of Avalon during the summer of 2001. I spent my late afternoons sitting on the patio, absorbed in the book until the sun was so low I couldn’t see the page any longer. I remember getting trashy V.C. Andrews books for finals week during high school to make good use of the remaining ninety minutes of each exam period. (I finished my exams way ahead of schedule and we weren’t allowed to leave.) Yeah, these books weren’t necessarily chunksters (or actually any good, although yes, deliciously salacious) but they weren’t the skinny YA books of today. The point: big books didn’t scare me.
However, they do the opposite nowadays. I have a ton of big books that I have purchased over the years with big excitement. But they have been gathering dust for some time now, since I suddenly became too intimidated to pick them up. I believe this intimidation is an unintended consequence of blogging and this subconscious competitiveness I have going with myself.
I have always been a fast reader. I think it is a combination of my pages read per minute and also the amount of time I dedicate to reading. I will stay up all night to read a book. I will spend an entire evening reading. I devote certain chunks of my day every day to this beloved activity. In days past, it could take as little as a few hours to one day to read a book if it was relatively short. On the flip side though, I didn’t mind spending a few weeks with a book if it was considerably long. I even derived a sort of pleasure out of this extended visit since my time with any given book was usually much shorter.
At this point in my life, my limited time and the need to have some fresh material on a regular basis combined with this internal drive to keep my reading pace consistent has cast the big books to the wayside. I became very aware of this when confronted with Marie Antoinette: The Journey coupled with my newly arrived The Girl Who Kicked Who Played with Fire (which did not come in the trade paperback size so it is even fatter and longer due to its smaller size.) Both books were on my January list. I really wanted to read this book since I loved Becoming Marie Antoinette so much. I dearly wanted to learn more about her from a nonfiction point of view. However, the heft had me doubtful and reluctant. A happy circumstance of finishing three books in the first nine days of January boosted my reading confidence so I dived right in, picking up MA: The Journey.
I must say, I have been thoroughly enjoying it. I can’t quite put it into words the feeling of having the same book by my side for several weeks—to read at lunch, to read on the train, to spend an hour with in the evenings whilst enjoying a cup of tea. I have forgotten how delicious this can be. Now that I have rediscovered this delight, I aim to include more of these ‘scary’ books in my reading lists as I journey through this next year.
How about you, my lovelies? What are your ‘scary’ books? Do you read a lot of chunksters? Has blogging had any unintended adverse effects on your reading habits?
Photo: personal for QGR