Loch Awe in spring - Photo courtesy of Neil Donald Photography






Sunday, 11 January 2015

READING HABITS? by Gill Stewart



I think all of us have differing reading habits, and ones that change as we grow older. I sometimes think my ‘way’ of reading must be quite odd, but maybe I’m wrong. I’ll tell you how I like to organise my reading and would love to know how others arrange theirs.

The first (possible) oddity is that I never read only one book at a time. My real preference is to have 3 books on the go. These usually fit into the following categories:

·         1. Serious reading – this can be ‘literary’ fiction, or non-fiction such as biography or a topic I’m particularly interested, usually psychology or linguistics. The book I’m reading currently fits into the literary fiction category, and  is Americanah by Chimanda Ngochi Adiche. It is a beautifully written book which raises serious questions about modern attitudes to race. These are books to be read when my brain is fully awake, so usually over morning coffee or lunch. They are also a good contrast to my own writing which I usually do in the morning – no danger of me subconsciously adopting these styles!


·         2. Light reading – almost always romance. I could say this is market-research for my own writing but mostly it is just for pure pleasure. I’m currently reading Born In Fire by Nora Roberts, but other writers who I love include Sue Moorcroft, Katie Fforde, Jayne Ann Krentz, Christina Courtenay and Sarra Manning to name but a few. Cosy crime also fits in here. Lesley Cookman being a great favourite. These can be read at any time of day when I have a time to spare, or when I’m waiting for someone or using public transport, or over a glass of wine in the evening.

·         3. Bedtime reading – I have a particular requirement for this third category. It has to be something with no gore, no tension, not be a page-turner that will stop me putting it down and going to sleep. For this I usually turn to books from my childhood. Currently I’m re-reading Heather Leaves School by Elinor M Brent-Dyer. Rosemary Sutcliffe also fits in well here, as does Elizabeth Goudge who I never read as a youngster but have recently been introduced to.

      And what format? My preferred format for reading is a paperback and for the first and third categories above I really like to own the book. This tends to lead to rather over-crowded bookshelves… The middle category, where I probably read the most voraciously, can also be a library book or on Kindle. Kindle is very useful but somehow not quite as satisfactory as a real book – to me!

     You may ask – how do I have so much time to read? The answer is, I watch very little television and only rarely watch movies. I prefer a good book, and there are so many of them out there still to be read.

     I’d love to know how, when, where and what do others read?

15 comments:

  1. I agree about the bedtime reading - it should be something that doesn't make me want to keep turning the pages and usually I read non-fiction (mostly historical stuff). Unfortunately I sometimes break my own rule and if I start on a good novel I'll be up until 3am to finish it ... :-) But to answer your question, I guess that means I'm often reading two books at a time as the non-fiction one will be an ongoing project.

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    1. Thanks for popping by. I think 2 books is a minimum. If you have only one book on the go how can you possibly know you're always going to feel like reading it :)

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  2. I wrote a long comment and it's disappeared!
    I also have several books on the go at once, but I'm not as organised. I read a lot of romance; but I also like cosy crime and biographies of interesting (though not always admirable) people. But I don't like big and heavy biogs.

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    1. Interesting. I don't think I set out to be organised - it has just kind of worked out like this.

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  3. I used to not mind staying awake most of the night reading a gripping novel but nowadays I need my sleep so I tend to save those books for during the day. I usually have one or two books on the go but I don't have them in specific categories.

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    1. Yes, I think I didn't used to mind staying awake all night to read, but those days are long past.

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  4. I always have several books, but usually only one is a novel. At the moment it's a constant stream of YA novels, accompanied by On Writing by AL Kennedy, The Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Booker (which I'll be reading for YEARS cos it's so big) and Alphabetical by Michael Rosen. Probably more of the novels than the others at the moment, but that's mostly due to them being strewn in various places around my house while the novels are all on my Ipad and I'm not at home!

    What Elizabeth Gouge are you reading? I have several if you want to borrow. Henrietta's House is my absolute favourite, though I love them all (apart from when they get too religiousy, but that's more the adult ones).

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    1. Sounds like some heavy reading there! I've only read 2 E Goudge - HH and The Little White Horse. They're oddly captivating. Of the 2 I preferred HH. What others would you recommend?

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  5. Love EG's Damerosehay trilogy, Gill. What a good idea to read something soothing last thing – the other night I was reading a crime novel (In the Shadow of the Hill by Helen Forbes) after everyone else was asleep; the house suddenly felt very dark and scary!

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    1. Thanks Kate. Will look out for the Damerosehay trilogy - I especially love series so it should suit me.

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  6. I'm afraid my reading has become very haphazard, Gill. I prefer to be writing! But of course, I do read, and reading other authors' work helps my writing too. I can't get into anything too heavy these days though. I enjoy well-written books in any genre, and have my favourites. I like Maggie o'Farrell, Elizabeth Buchan and JoJo Moyes. I'm listening to Middlemarch, and loving it. As you know. I listen to lots of books – more than I read these days! If I really love something I've heard, I'll buy the paperback too. (Likewise if I've read something great on Kindle). I'm off on holiday soon, so hopefully I'll get a chance to do a bit more reading. On the other hand, I'd like to start a novella while I'm away...!

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    1. I keep meaning to try listening to books but still haven't managed it. Maybe that can be added to my list of NY resolutions (it's getting rather long...)

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  7. Great post, Gill. My reading is a bit varied, like yours. I have at least two books going at once. A literary, or thought-provoking novel which must be in print and a lighter romance, historical or crime novel that I read on my kindle. I only ever read the kindle in bed as I find a print book too heavy to hold now, so it's whatever I'm currently reading on kindle that I read at night. The print book I dip into whenever I get the chance but always for half an hour before going to bed - that's become a sort of ritual, along with my chamomile tea.

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    1. Very interesting to hear, Rosemary. I've always loved the idea of camomile tea but unfortunately don't like the taste! Thanks for dropping by.

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  8. I'm coming very late to this post - life and a book launch sort of got in the way - and I can only admire your reading strategy.....all very organised and it means, of course, that the breadth of your learning is widened in the doing of it. Great post.

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