Today I’d like to show you a pile of books.
It’s a nice sized pile, isn’t it? Notice anything about it? Not the titles (some well-known ones in there, I know). Run your eye down the left-hand side. You might notice some paper, even a piece of string. What’s all that? Well, if you didn’t guess already, those are bookmarks.
This, my loyal readers, is my pile of half-read books. Aside from a few that I didn’t feel like stacking up on the pile and a few on my Kindle, this is my pile of books that I’ve started and haven’t (yet) finished. Some are from recent weeks. A few, like the Nick Hornby, were started two years ago. (In defense of the Hornby, its columns he wrote for a The Believer, and I don’t feel that they need to be read in a rush.)
It seems like I have a problem. I admit, it is somewhat of a problem that I’d like to fix. There are periods of time when it doesn’t occur, however, reading a portion of a book and putting it down only to have another catch my eye and start reading that instead has shown me something about myself as a reader. And that is what I’d like to discuss today.
There are many things that plague my reading life. I get easily distracted. I find it hard to sit and read for long periods of time. Because of this, reading one novel could take a week (average, and I’d be pleased with that) or longer. Other readers will devour these same books in a day. Luckily, even with this big different in reading “speed” I think I still enjoy the story the same as devourerers (did I make up a word or just spell it wrong? Oh well.) More on that in a bit. It’s rare that I’ve read a book in one day, but it has happened. Reading one in 2-3 days is an accomplishment for me. Those are often the ones that BLOW ME AWAY, not just blow me away.
I’m not trying to get a pity party going. I know I’m not alone in some of these reading struggles. It’s how we’re built. I can’t, often, read a book straight through even when I love it. I said it. I’m proud. I’m a reader. That’s all that matters. What I would like to focus on is some of the interesting things I’ve noticed in the last few years.
As a kid I devoured some books. When the Animorphs series came out, I read almost the entire series. Many were read almost as they were released. Then I stopped reading, unless it was assigned to me. It was in high school that I discovered books again, but it was also when I realized I don’t read fast. It took me months to read Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls (one of the first books I bought when I discovered the local used bookstore). While I read that, I also started and finished A Farewell to Arms and many of his short stories. I didn’t think much of this until recently.
Once I started blogging, my reading frequency picked up. I also didn’t have as big of a pile of half-read books until the last year(ish). I got busy. My mind started wandering. It happens. A great thing about blogging, and more importantly reviewing, my memory for books seems to have gotten much better. Or, I never gave my memory as much credit as it deserved. This is one of the key factors to not being (t00) ashamed of my half-read pile.
Most of the books you see pictured above, I can jump right back into and feel like I never put it down. It might take a page or two to recall what I need to keep going, but that’s all. I never would have thought I’d be able to finish some books without restarting them, but I feel that I’ve grown as a reader to the point that these things stick in my head for a long time. Well, once I finish a book, I tend to start forgetting things. But that’s what my reviews are for, and one of the main reasons I started reviewing. They help jump-start my memory after I’m done.
*To interrupt your regularly scheduled reading of this post, I’d like to point out that this is the point of the post where real life started calling. I had to stop writing it, and didn’t get back to finishing the post until more than 24 hours later. Ironic isn’t it? Half-written post on half-read books. I now your regularly scheduled reading, already in progress*
An example of this, World After by Susan Ee. This book was released in November of 2013. I got the book around that time and even started it then. It’s admittedly a fast, very engaging read. But I put it down at some point. Read a chapter or two in 2014…and now I picked it back up the night I started this post. this time, I plan on going to the end. I have less than 100 pages to read now and I’m loving the book. Funny thing is that the same thing happened when I read the first book in the series, Angelfall. It went a little more than half-read until close to release day for book 2. The third book, End of Days is coming out in May and it seems that history has repeated itself. Though, when I get my hands on that book, I’ll have to remind myself there’s no fourth book to wait for and that I should read it in one sitting. The series deserves that after what I’ve put it through.
One of the downfalls of this half-reading habit is that I often tell people “yea, that book is on my TBR” or “It’s next on my list. Can’t wait to read it.” Seems innocent enough. Turns out that I say this much too often, and even if I did start the book soon after saying that, I come to realize I have a long line of books on my Kindle that I said I was going to read months ago. This happened in the last few months of 2014. I met many new authors, got myself some great looking books (and also had some gifted to me), had the intention to plow through the pile. I think, as of today, I’ve read two from the pile. That’s almost nothing. I don’t feel too guilty about this. We have our reading speeds. We have lives. No one expects things. I just don’t like feeling left out of things, especially when I interact with most of these authors daily.
So, to all authors out there: You may remember (or not) whether or not I have your book on my pile(s). You may remember that I said I’d be getting to it soon. I doubt that soon came soon enough. Luckily, I don’t forget most of what I own, and I have every intention of reading it in the next ten years. (Eh, figured I’d close this out in a light note.)
As always, comment with your thoughts. Do you half-read? I’m sure many of you can’t fathom it. Totally understand that too. I know some of you probably start from the beginning, as well. For me, that’d get into rereading territory, and that’s a topic for a totally different post.
Speaking of topics for posts, I’m running on empty here. Tell me what you’d like to read. Tell me if you’d like to write up your own guest post. I’m open to almost anything. Just shoot me a message though the contact form with topic ideas or guest post inquiries. I’d love to hear from you all about anything (almost anything. I have my limits…maybe.)
Now, to read more of this weekend’s book…WORLD AFTER