Trying a little prompt to help get the ball rolling after about a month off (lack of writing motivation, thy name is writer’s block). This was based on a prompt about five things I’m good at. However, an idea came to me. talk about five things that I’ve noticed about myself when it comes to reading and books in general. Mostly, these are things that I do periodically and one is something I’ve noticed because of how frequently I use the library.
1. Fast Reading
Everyone reads at a different pace. Some people may be fast readers, some read a little slower, and others somewhere in between. For me, I would say that in most cases, I am a fast reader. On average, I am able to get through a two to three hundred page book in a day or two. Especially if I’m really into the book and don’t want to set it down. I may be able to attribute this to the fact I always liked to read and/or how I have always been able to get through a couple manga volumes in a day.
I know it might sound like I may rush through a book but I don’t. I am able to get through a book and understand what is going on at the pace I read at. Sometimes, I do have to go back and read a section, but that won’t always be the case and isn’t something I attribute to just my pace (ex. getting distracted).
That’s not to say that I won’t take my time with certain books. Longer books or books that may have more intricate details are books that I will slow down and take my time with. For instance, Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien is a book that I will take my time with due to the story, characters and concepts being things that would need a slower pace. Another example would be a book I am currently working through The Final Strife by Saara El-Arifi. Technically, I started this book a few moths ago, but life happens, I got distracted with other books, and motivation has been on and off. That said, because it is a bigger book and I want to make sure I’m understanding the world, it is a book I wanted to take my time with.
Generally speaking though, I would consider myself a faster reader. And the reason I consider that as something I am good at is because it’s something I’ve grown into. I don’t feel like I am better than others for it, it’s just something I’m good at.
2. Partial Memorization of the Dewey Decimal System
If there is one thing nonfiction sections in libraries are known for, it’s the Dewey Decimal System. This is how the libraries organize where things are located and is primarily used with organizing the nonfiction section. Each section will cover a specific number range (ex. 100-199.999Z, 600-699.99Z, and 900-999.999Z), will cover a specific topic (science, philosophy, languages, etc.), and each topic will have subcategories (animals, poetry, algebra etc.).
The bigger sections that I have memorized are the religion, history and geography, literature, languages, and the general range for science and math (Science has two sections, applied where you’ll find tings like math and astronomy for instance and natural science for things like wildlife). As far as specific topics in these categories, I know what range cooking, pets, mythology, fairytales/folktales, Egyptian history and geology/gemstones fall into.
Of course, I don’t have the whole system memorized, which is were the librarian would be more helpful than me. However, if I am able to help direct someone in the right direction, I will. The fact that I even have some of it memorized is something I feel is good to know. Because if I wanted to find a topic from the ones I remember, or was directing someone to any of those topics, I know where to start looking.
3. Trying Something New Every so Often
While there is nothing wrong with sticking to genres and/or authors you enjoy, I do think trying something new every now and then is a good thing. Like for me, I personally tend to lean towards fantasy, historical fiction, the occasional nonfiction and biography, graphic novels/comics, manga on occasion, and general fiction. Someone else might prefer romance, and the next person might like mysteries and horror. It all depends.
I doubt I am the only one who does, but every now and then I may want to read something new, like a genre I don’t typically read or a single book from a genre that catches my eye. When that happens, I’ll try to find something that interests me, if it hasn’t already crossed my radar. Some I like, some I don’t. For instance, I was never a big fan of westerns, but I ended up watching the 2021 Netflix adaptation of The Power of the Dog by Thomas Savage, enjoyed it, and then read the book, which I also enjoyed. Or Patricia Briggs’ Alpha and Omega series, an urban fantasy series I tried that has since become my guilty pleasure read. An instance of me trying something new and disliking it would probably have to be P.C. Doherty’s Ancient Egypt Mysteries/Amerotke series. It’s not that the series is necessarily bad per say, I’ve just tried picking the series up two or three times and could not being myself to finish it. The farthest I think I got was book four and it’s a seven book long series.
But yeah, trying new books on occasion is something I feel like I’m good at. I know what I like and am at least willing to try other things. I don’t see it as a requirement for reader and I think it’s perfectly fine if someone wants to stick to what they like. Trying something new every now and then is just something I feel good doing, even if I don’t always enjoy it.
4. Trying to Find That One Good Thing About a Book I Dislike or a Flawed Book. Fiction Specifically.
I’m going to try and avoid using “bad books” because while I do believe there are things that can make a book bad objectively (ex. grammar, story telling, and characterization), objectivity and subjectivity of what makes a book bad may get confusing. So for the sake of discussion, I’m approaching this as books that I disliked that either had good or average reviews, or books that I’ve read and disliked that have generally bad review scores. This is also strictly for fiction as a whole. Nonfiction is a different playing field. Especially since things like accuracy and research is crucial with the topic a nonfiction book is discussing, regardless of whether it’s an informative piece or an opinion based one.
Essentially, when I read a book that I don’t end up enjoying, I try to find at least one good thing about that book. Granted, not every book I dislike will have one good thing, but I do try to find something. Whether it be a concept that had potential, a scene, or a character, if I can find one good thing, I’ll mention it. It may not make the book anymore enjoyable for me, and I may be woefully optimistic, especially if it’s a poorly received book, but it’s a way for me to try to see if there is one good thing in an otherwise unenjoyable story.
Two examples of this are Sun Sister by Lucinda Riley and The Draco by Chuck Austen. In the case of Sun Sister, it was my least favorite book from the Seven Sisters series. I think I rated this a (low) three out of five stars. I didn’t dislike it enough to give it anything lower, but I did think it was the weaker book of the series. For this book, the one good thing I gave to it was that the story was there, even if I thought it could have been better. I could see what they were going for and appreciated the character growth for Electra, though the execution felt a little rushed in some areas and could have used something more in others.
For Chuck Austen’s The Draco, it would be Azazel. This story was for all intensive purposes, bad. Characterization was bad with characters feeling poorly written and/or not in character, it had one or two major plot holes like when it came to how Azazel could get out of the Brimstone Dimension, and the story itself wasn’t that well executed. There’s also the art, though I doubt better art would have helped much, and the reception of Azazel was not that great. That said, I do think that Azazel is the only good concept from this story. I know him being a demon (or the mutant equivalent) doesn’t sit well with some people and the initial plan for Mystique and Destiny is what some would have preferred happening. I don’t think they’re wrong in thinking that. I just think that given what they were able to do in 2004 and not being as bothered by the demon bit, that Azazel isn’t necessarily a bad character in practice nor is his concept as Nightcrawler’s father.
If I can, I will try to find one good thing about a story I didn’t enjoy. Not every book I dislike will, and I wouldn’t want to say that is the case. However, if I do find something good, I will note it.
5. Marry-Go-Round of Reading Interests
I’m the type of person who will get interested in a subject or topic for a while. This can include things like a character, a series, a concept, a location, a theme, and an animal, among other topics. For instance, I recently started getting into Marvel, mainly X-Men, and it’s been one of my bigger interests as of late. And every now and then, they will change. Sometimes it is something new entirely, other times it an already existing interest of mine.
This cycle of interests also works it’s way into what I read. In some ways, it’s weeded into what I read. For instance, the aforementioned X-Men interest. Wanted to read up on Nightcrawler and have been reading quite a few comics with him as well as X-Men and Wolverine comics in general. Alternatively, psychology is an interest of mine and recently I’ve been interested in learning about Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). The reason for it has to do with curiosity and me wanting to learn more/educate myself on it.
That said, not all of my reading interests will align with my other interests. For instance, every now and then I may want to read a specific genre because I’m looking for something new. Sometimes I’ll want to read that genre for the month or throughout the year. An example would be biographies. Most times it’s on someone I know, but every now and then a biography that I might not consider crosses my radar and I decide to read it. This year, I ended up reading five biographies and memoirs in total, with a few on my to read list going into next year.
Those are my five eccentricities I’ve noticed when it comes to reading. Little things that I’ve either noticed I do or have memorized. Do you have any little tricks or habits that you notice when you read? If so, what are they?