So. Deb's Rules for Books and Reading
1. I will write in books, and I will dog-ear pages, but only in books that I own. I don't write in books a lot, and mostly I confine annotation to underlining passages because I want to allow myself to change as a reader, to grow, to react differently to passages, and I find it difficult to do that if I put comments in the margins. I do have bookmarks. I use pretty ones that I got as gifts, ticket stubs, pictures, post cards. But I am not averse to the dog-ear. I know that makes me a savage in the eyes of many, but too bad.
2. I'm a re-reader, but mostly, I re-read series I loved as a kid.
3. I give myself about 2 chapters to abandon a book. It's hard to abandon books. I feel like a quitter, but there are too many good books waiting to be read for me to waste time on boring/crappy/stupid books. This year, I've abandoned two books. Abandonment isn't necessarily permanent, but I'm not likely to go back.
3. I read three or four books at a time. This has become easier to do since I got a Nook (and Nook app for my phone) because I can keep several books with me. For example, today, while I waited to get a flat tire repaired, I read The Laughter of Dead Kings until the battery died on my Nook, then switched to the phone and continued reading The Hobbit. (TLoDK is a library book and didn't transfer to my phone). I've read The Hobbit in line at the post office, the coffee shop, while waiting for a movie to start. It's a great book to dip into whenever I have a few spare minutes, especially since I've read it before.
4. I don't treat books like sacred objects anymore. I'm better at lending books to friends, letting go of books that only gather dust. I use the library all the time. That said, if you fuck up one of the books that I have chosen to keep in my small personal library, I will cut you.
5. I try not to buy a book with a movie tie-in cover. It's crass. I'm a scholar, Jim, not a floozy who sells her book love to the highest bidder. But I will happily cast the characters with actors. Like my beloved BC as John Tregarth.
|I really like this picture. Le sigh.|
7. I read what I fancy. Even in grad school, I read books for fun. I'm lucky to be a fast reader. I'm lucky to absorb things quickly (Heidegger aside). I feel pangs of sorry for my fellow program scholars who, upon graduating, are now allowing themselves the luxury of reading whatever they want. I did not do this. Sure, my "fun" reading slowed down a bit while I was in school, but reading for myself is not something I consider a luxury. It was necessary to keep me sane. I believe that because I didn't stint myself on books I wanted, I avoided a major grad school melt down.
8. I over think everything. I will go into full on literary analysis mode no matter what I read. For example, when I was telling a friend about Vicky Bliss, I also confessed to some guilt that I recognized these books present a pretty heteronormative world view, and I liked it anyway. Bless her dear literary analyzing heart, my friend (a graduate of The Program, which is henceforth how I will refer to the MA/MFA program from which I graduated) talked me through my academic guilt. I like over thinking. I've also made friends (like the aforementioned Program Chum) willing to indulge me in analysis shop talk, and even better, willing to participate! So I'm giving in.
And that's about it. My golden rule for reading is Read What You Love; Don't Read What You Don't Love. Everything else tends to sort itself out.