Taking a page out of Jamie’s book (ha! Book pun totally intended!), specifically her 3 Things About Me as a Reader post, I thought it was important to introduce myself and my habits as a reader. We all have our particular quirks and routines, and while certainly each person has his or her own preferences, these three notable things sum up my reading style pretty well.
- The highest compliment I can give a book is to want to write a paper about it. // I joke that friends of mine and I often sit at Starbucks and discuss theories and thesis for imaginary papers that we one day hope to write. This is no joke. We actually do this. And I’m sure the baristas know us as the weird people who hypothesize terrible things about Disney stories and compare Beowulf to Orange is the New Black (this is a totally random comparison, though I’m sure there’s a nugget of something sensible in here if I sit down and think on it). There are plenty of stories that I love to hear, plenty of worlds I like to get lost in, but if you can leave such an impression on me that all I can think about is setting my room up like a crime scene with a web connecting all of my ideas on the book, and sharing my thoughts in a meticulously crafted paper then well done! It’s a weird quirk, but this feeling is one that makes me want to pat you on the back, dear writer, and say thank you for making me think.
- I don’t have to like a book’s characters to like the book itself. // The Great Gatsby is the perfect example; I loathe all of its characters. They are not human beings I would particularly choose to pal around with. They make decisions that make me want to smack them. They say things that make me want to smack them. If we hung out in real life, it would be such a high maintenance friendship and I don’t do drama-filled anything. And yet this is my favorite book. The plot may not be the most action-packed, and the characters may be frustrating and cruel, but the point of the novel isn’t to like the characters. It’s the way Fitzgerald captures the bleak, misguided hope of Jay Gatsby and all of the little metaphors and moments and nuggets of truth in his writing of those events. The characters can be loathsome (though I don’t often just like a book because I dislike its characters; there has to be something else redeeming or captivating about it) and I can still fall in love with the book itself.
- I write in my books. // Yeah, yeah, get it out of your system. So many people feel strongly about this topic enough that I expect some pretty heated debate, but if I’m being totally honest, writing in books doesn’t bother me anymore. It used to, but years of being an English major in college broke me of that habit real fast. During a discussion, if you didn’t write down that quote or mark that passage, you were left in the literary dust. That’s not to say I don’t prefer to type a list of quotes I want to reference later into Evernote, etc. Depending on the purpose, I find that to be easier. But when you’re sitting in a class and asked to do certain analytical tasks, sometimes it’s easier to take the pen to the paper. Writing in my books just cements the fact that they are mine, and I love being able to watch my thoughts and hear my inner commentary change as I go back and reread them. Plus, one day my marginalia of little “ha!”s might be as valuable as Mark Twain’s. Someone once told me that they didn’t mind if the book I borrowed from them were returned with food stains and a cracked binding – it meant the book was used and thoroughly enjoyed; that it was taken everywhere and unable to be put down by its reader. (While I wouldn’t dare write in a book I borrowed from someone else), the sentiment has stuck, and I want all of my books to be used and loved and thoroughly enjoyed.