Friday 18 September 2015

Portable Magic: My reading habits Q&A

 Hello hello.

My friend Helen at 'I Will Bloom' tagged me to share my reading habits after she, in turn, had been tagged to do so by Lizelle at 'Sandals and Sunnies'. And, seeing as how the theme fits with my 'Portable Magic' series [where I chat about books and book related doings] I thought I'd pick up the tag/the baton/ the gauntlet and answer the questions.

You can catch Helen's post here and I think I've tracked the originator of the meme, the vlogger who set the questions - The Book Jazz - here on Youtube.

Oh, and ... all the photos I've used to illustrate this post are ones I found by mooching round my hard-drive ... and, from that, it's become clear to me that books have featured heavily in my life-documenting in the last 6 or 7 years!

So let's open up the first page shall we ...

Q: Do you have a certain place at home to read?

A: In my head I'm all Jo March, from Little Women, blocking out the world by reading in her romantic window seat.

In reality I don't have a window seat. In fact there are just 3 window-ledges in the entire house, the largest being in the kitchen. And I think my neighbours would talk if I crammed myself up there to read.

So, no, I read anywhere and everywhere at home but mainly in bed, on the settee and, weather permitting, the garden.

Q: Reading at home or everywhere?

A: Everywhere.

When I work on campus I always take a book with me, to read in any spare time and sometimes on the bus home.

And I take, and/or buy, books on holiday.

I've also been known to read while James enjoys the aerial displays at airshows [personally I just go for the fresh air, hot dogs and ice cream].
And, despite having to stand, in front of the loo, for over 3 hours, on a warm and extremely full train back from London last month ... I managed to read my magazine: 
[Occasionally, on especially bumpy parts of the journey, I had to remove one hand from it to reach for the grab rail, but still ... it was a pretty good effort!].

Q: Do you watch TV or listen to music while reading?

A:: If James is watching something on TV that I'm not interested in I'll read through it [while trying to ignore the loud fight scenes / explosions / zombie groans / impenetrable plots in the background]. But I don't tend to put the TV on for myself and then reach for a book.

I do however often have the radio on while I'm reading; at night that's music [Radio 3 in bed] and during the day it's talk radio [Radio 4]. I'm a filthy multi-tasker.

Q: Do you eat or drink while reading?

A: Certainly do.

Especially if it's particularly unputdownable novel where you wander around the house dressing yourself, scaling stairs, preparing breakfast, with one hand while clutching the book in the other. In those instances if I didn't eat or drink while reading ... I'd be going hungry! 
And a cup of tea is a prerequisite for reading. In fact I didn't know you could do one without the other.

And what about Prosecco? Does that count? [Well I was on holiday]:
Plus, I read lots of library books and, if I was that way inclined, I could track the eating habits of readers of different genre just by looking at the smudges on the pages and the scatterings of food stuffs that occasionally drop out of the creases in the spine! [Chocolate, poppy seeds, cigarette ash etc etc].

Q: Reading aloud or silently in your head?

A: To myself, I read silently unless there's an especially wonderful piece of prose that I need to hear aloud to myself or that I need to share with James. 

Actually, I do that a lot. 

Similarly I also occasionally tweet perfect phrases I've come across in books too. 

It feels like I'm giving credit where its due to the authors; kind of how a sports fan might share the video of a brilliant goal ... I don't see why sporty types should get all the replay fun! 

As for reading aloud I used to do that a lot too, to James, if it was a book we both wanted to read at chat about together at the same time, without taking turns. I think I read the entire Harry Potter series to him, with voices. [They could have paid me to do the audio books while I was at it].

Q: One book at a time or several at once?

A: There's no straight answer to this ... erm ... 
  • If I really get drawn into a book of fiction or a memoir I tend to read it through before moving on to another. 
  • Reading mainly library books - with a definite return date - certainly helps me power through, focus and read one at a time without procrastinating.
  • But if I BUY a book and then stop, and then pick it up later ... this can go on for a long while before I get it read! And I definitely read other things in the meantime. 
  • [There was about a decade's lag between my starting and finishing Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, which turned out to have been worth it in the end!]
Plus I read non-fiction in between to, as and when, dipping in and out. At the moment I'm dipping in and out of '13 Ways of Looking at the Novel'  by Jane Smiley and Tom Phillip's 'A Humument'. 

Q: Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter or number of pages?

A: All depends:
  • it can be very satisfying to read up to new chapter but ...  
  • not all books have chapters and some that do have huuuuge ones ...
  • and,either way, if I'm really tired, then I'll happily stop mid-chapter, mid-paragraph, mid-sentence, mid-wor...

Q: Bookmark or random piece of paper?

A: Goodness this is a whole discussion in itself!

In fact ... I wrote a full blog post on this exact topic not long ago: 'Tell me you're not a corner folder: a few thoughts on bookmarks'. 
[If you haven't got the time/inclination to read it then, basically, I use both].

Q: Do you ever read ahead or skip pages?

A: Nope.

I'm tempted. Always. But I do my best to keep the surprise sacred. 

Q: Do you ever write in books?

A: Not in library books!  And not in fiction; not since I left college/university:
  • I spent a childhood being told not to write in books ...
  • then life as a student where it was necessary to do just that ...
  • and then, once I'd graduated and returned to a 'layman' reader status, it took me almost as long to get out of the habit of taking notes, underlining and adding diagrams and arrows! 
And, just recently, while reading  '13 Ways of Looking at the Novel'  I've picked up my pencil again and started scribbling notes. It's like I've never been away.

So, those are my reading habits. What about yours?

I'm probably meant to tag someone to join in now but ... I out-ran my luck with this kind of thing the last time I joined in with a tag-along type meme.  It was tough finding people who were happy to have the torch passed to them and so ...

... I'm going to tag you, yes you. If you want to join in just copy and paste the questions and give it a go. Feel free to link back to me in your post AND to drop back here to leave me the link to yours.

Right then ... I think there's a book or two calling my name ... see you later.



  1. Of course I loved reading this! I just handed in a page for Get It Scrapped called "Hello Fresh Air, Be With You Shortly" about reading instead of looking around me when I'm out and about :) I'm glad I had a coffee at hand today to let me sit and slowly enjoy your thoughts on the subject too. I'm hoping to write mine soon, if I could just finish this chapter..

  2. Oh yum...yum yum yum....

    (Sorry can't concentrate on writing anything AT ALL because that dress - *that dress* distracted me.....*that dress* - a *perfect* pattern or what??? Oh's so so pretty!!!!!).....

    I love this post *so much*!!!!

    Will be back later to read it properly (I am able to resist skipping ahead in novels but can *never* resist skipping ahead through your delicious posts...meaning I have to come back and re-read...and enjoy everything all over again...

    Yum yum yum....delightful.

    [Hah, love the fact that you tweet perfect phrases....and compare it to re-hashing the brilliance of goals! Love that! ...wondering if it's copyright infringement to tweet every single word Andrew Miller has ever written??!!]

    H xxx

    P.S. Beautiful photos....
    P.P.S. I've still not got to the end of Jonathan Strange....!

  3. And I have much enjoyed reading THIS! And looking at the photos ... a delightful post, Julie. I am pondering mine. Those flowery dress and garden shots definitely have a lady-at-leisure feel ...

  4. Oh Julie! This post really caught my attention (of course all of your posts are totally enjoyable!) and I was off and running. Here are my reading habits: Thanks so much for this and P.S., watch for a book-related packet in your post from this cow town.

  5. You have to have a drink of some sort while you're reading!


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