Saturday, March 23, 2024

How Do You Read the Books You Read?


Scott D. Parker

I’m a book nerd. You too? Yeah, it’s great, huh.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a ton of To Be Read lists on my various devices and literal piles here at my house. I’m always reading blogs to see what’s new. I read articles about new books and keep adding them to my lists. On Facebook, the algorithms are primed to send me sponsored ads by authors or publishing companies promoting books they think I’d like. Sometimes, I strike gold. Others times, not so much.

When it comes to consuming and actually reading these stories, I rely on both reading (on my Kindle or hard copy) as well as audio. I regularly have multiple books going on at any given time, leaving my decision as to which book to read to what I’m feeling at the moment. Well, except for audio: I’m pretty much a one-book-at-a-time listener.

Oh, and my TBR piles and lists are never complete. They only grow. I’ll admit it can be frustrating, but that’s how I’m wired. Long ago, I accepted who I am. 

Book nerd. That’s me. But what if you’re not?

A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I met two other couples at a brewery here in Houston. We ate dinner and caught up with each other. One of the guys—let’s call him Kyle, a guy slightly older than I am—started chatting about his reading habits and the authors he reads and chooses. I say authors because we didn’t really discuss styles of books but, based on his author choices, you can figure it out. 

Because she recently watched the Joe Pickett TV show, my wife brought up C.J. Box. When Kyle heard the name, his response was succinct. “Read them all, except for the new one.” I mentioned the Reacher TV show and I got the same response about all the Lee Child books. Kyle also name-dropped Vince Flynn and Brad Thor.

This reminded me of a blog I wrote back in 2011. I had visited four estate sales and two of which had a proto man cave/library with shelves full of Louis L’amour westerns. I questioned which authors we might find on the shelves of folks in the 21st Century. We certainly have some contenders here.

Speaking of westerns, Kyle commented he ran across a list of great westerns all men should read. [It’s actually this list from the Art of Manliness site.] He got the list and started reading the books, in published order, to see how the western evolved. Not everything was available as an ebook so he’s not read them all, but he just took this list and started reading. [That was a wonderful breath of fresh air for an ADHD reader like me.]

But it was how Kyle read that made me envy him (and his non-ADHD self). 

He reads on his Kindle Oasis, the top of the line product from Amazon. This is the one with external buttons. He likes this because he can switch hands, flipping the device over, and the upper button will always be the one to advance the page. He reads for an hour at lunch during the weekdays. In the evenings, there is a Reading Chair in his main TV room. The speakers are set up in such a way that, from where he’s sitting, the sound goes over his head and straight to the couch where his wife sits. As a result, he’ll be in the same room as her but be reading if she’s watching a show he doesn’t want to watch. The sound becomes white noise to him and he’s all in on his book. 

So he’s reading for an hour at lunch and at least an hour (?) at night. Two-ish hours per day. And, presumably, he’s been doing this for a long time. No wonder he can get through the entire Lee Child or C.J. Box oeuvre. Granted, he probably read them in real time as each book came out. 

That’s the kind of reader I’d like to be. 

Not coincidentally, in the two weeks since our dinner, I’ve consciously built in more reading time (apart from my writing time). This is actual reading, not audio. What does it take to read more? 

Choosing to read. It’s pretty darn simple.

So, how do you choose what you read? And how often do you read daily and weekly?

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