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I'm Some Kind of Reader.

gwendabondgirl (by way of deborahb) asks, "So. What kind of reader are you?"

I have one rule about fiction novels: if by fifty pages I don't care, you're gone. That's it. If I'm told that a book doesn't start to pick up until page two hundred, then that book isn't going to be read. It's that simple. If an author produced two hundred pages that gave you nothing, then you're reading the wrong book, or the author did a shit job. And if we're talking a short story, I give it a page (or one page down scroll). No more, sometimes less. I mean, if I open a piece of fiction and the first line repels me, I'm not going to bother following it, unless I find myself compelled by that repelling nature. It happens. But anyhow, the reason for these limits with fiction is because my time spent reading for pleasure is something I protect. I read all the time, from blogs, to news articles, to academic research, to books that come under the dubious title of Keeping-Aware-of-Your-Peers*, and a bunch of other reasons. When I have time to read for me, just me, that piece has got to be something I want like I do my girl, and it's got to be something I want to consume, that I lose yourself in for hours...

That said, I can and am consumed by multiple things, so I have to force myself to keep a bit of loyalty to a book so I don't lose interest. Slim novels work best, and I find that if I read large, sprawling epics, that I'll ditch out for a couple of days into something small, then return to it. I use short stories a lot like that. Of course, I'm particularly bad at it when I get anywhere near non fiction. I jump like you wouldn't believe in non fiction, from one book to another, to back again, to chapters near the end and chapters near the middle, without having read the ones at the start. (Depending, obviously, on the kind of non fiction book. But I love the ones you don't need to read sequentially.)

Lastly, I read everywhere I can, except on transport. Trains, buses, cars, planes, and even unicycles--about ten minutes into reading on one of these (less with others) I'll begin to get nauseous. It's sufferable only on trains, which I occasionally read on if I've no other choice (usually non fiction--for some reason it's not as bad). I have no idea if I can read on boats, mind you, since it's been years since I've been on one, and I've never been on any kind of boat with a book. But my favourite place to read is in the corner, lying on the burnt orange couch I've got, and just reading until I've got no more time till read. Just me and the book.




* These books are usually picked up because everyone around me is saying, "Holy fucking shit, what an amazing book!" This is why I own a copy of China Mieville's Predido Street Station, which i picked up with The Scar for ten bucks... I've never managed to get past the line "Veldt to scrub to fields to farms to these first tumbling houses that rise from the earth," however. It's not helped by the size. But, you know, one day.

Comments

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benpeek
May. 8th, 2005 10:50 am (UTC)
you know, originally, deb said she gave a book one hundred pages. i suspect if you post this to your own journal, you'd find someone who did it in then, and then in five and so onto until you reached someone who said, 'if i don't like the weight, i put it back.'

as for mieville. one day, i guess. he has a short story collection coming out that actually does interest me, cause i haven't minded some of his short fiction, and i'd like to read his novella the tain. but as for perdido street... one day. sadly, i read king rat and hated that. gave up round page fifty when it became so obvious it was the pied piper tale.
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benpeek
May. 8th, 2005 01:40 pm (UTC)
i think we've all been at that moment where we've put books back because of font, weight, paper, covers... some times it can just feel wrong. and if it feels wrong, put it back, as they say.
ashamel
May. 8th, 2005 10:44 pm (UTC)
I didn't like King Rat, but Perdido is good (stop me if you've heard that before).

OK, I've stopped now.

Anyway, I've got derailed from my current book about 80% through, and went and read Conjure Wife and started Hitchhikers instead. But I still feel like going back and finishing that last 20%, even though the book is uninteresting, because... um.
benpeek
May. 9th, 2005 12:27 am (UTC)
what're you reading, then, that's uninteresting?
ashamel
May. 9th, 2005 12:32 am (UTC)
This sorts of gets into authors not giving reviews, but since I wrote bugger all on the weekend: Sean Williams The Crooked Letter. Fascinating concepts, but so busy and breathless that all characters and events become a blur.
benpeek
May. 9th, 2005 12:35 am (UTC)
that's a shame.

i'm currently reading the tax inspector, with is busy and breathless, but isn't a blur. i'm really enjoying the sprawling messy narrative carey's got, since it speaks of the characters lives.
ashamel
May. 9th, 2005 12:44 am (UTC)
Yeah, I liked that one, though thought it lost its way a bit (indeed, I have a review here).
benpeek
May. 9th, 2005 12:50 am (UTC)
no reviews until i've finished :)

(which should be today or tomorrow.)
ashamel
May. 9th, 2005 01:00 am (UTC)
Very disciplined.
reni_0629
May. 8th, 2005 09:55 pm (UTC)
I have to agree, fifty pages seems generous--for me, if I'm not into it within the first twenty pages or so, I just don't bother. And in the store, if I'm deciding what to buy, the first page needs to do it.

Also, I'm a little jealous. It seems like very few books actually consume me, the way you were talking about. I'd be thrilled to spend my free time reading only those books, but I've been forced to lower my standards, over time. These days, I'm happy just to read a decent piece of brain candy.

benpeek
May. 9th, 2005 12:29 am (UTC)
and just look how low your standards have taken you! heh.

i thought fifty pages was fairly reasonable. it's what i can knock off in one sitting easily, you know? of course, that said, i don't buy many books that i won't like. i usually try before i buy, as they say, and most that don't interest me don't last beyond the page.
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