A few weeks ago, I met some friends at our local Bahama Breeze for drinks and a rousing game of “keep the toddler from climbing over the tops of the benches and pulling the hair of the patron behind us.” It was some unexpected cardio and a really good time, because I’ve missed this particular family since they moved to Florida.
“So,” my friend S says to me. “I have questions. You read a lot. What’s that about?”
I laughed, because I can only imagine what it looks like to people who follow me on twitter or Facebook. I don’t party, I rarely eat out, I don’t drink. I don’t wax on about the latest vampire show or singing competition (except for Criminal Minds or Golden Girls. I stan for both of those shows!). What I do is read. I read incessantly. I’m kind of addicted to getting lost in a fictional world, fictional characters for 300-500 pages at a time. I am a member at Goodreads, and when I stop for the moment or the day, I record my progress. If I don’t tweet anything else, it looks like I haven’t been doing anything but reading all day. And on the weekends, you’re probably right, on that one.
Over time I have developed the skill of reading quickly (okay and sometimes if there’s 7 pages of description, I skim. SHHHHHH don’t tell anyone!). So yes, I read a lot. A few books at a time, especially if one is particularly heavy. I need something light to detract from that.
I read all the time. In the morning, I’ve been listening to audio books as I get ready instead of watching television. CNN just ticks me off right now, anyway. I keep it going as I get in the car and drive the usual 45– but sometimes 60– minute drive to work. At lunch, I pull out my eReader and feast on something else that I’ve got going, that I ONLY read on my lunch break, so I have something to look forward to. When I leave, I cue up the audiobook where I left it that morning and get in another good hour.
You’d think I’d be tired by the time I got home, but you’re wrong there! After dinner a few nights a week, I snuggle into bed with Nookie (my name for my Nook Color) or a print book and dig in. I’ve been known to be up way too late just trying to finish something or get to the end of a chapter.
So yes. I read a lot. But why?
People ask me this all the time. I guess not why I read, but why I read so much. And I figure… why not read so much? What else should I be doing? Another reason is because it helps my writing. I’m a big proponent of Stephen King’s adage that writers read. And read and read and read. The more I read, the better I write. In fact, I’ve started reading “Reading Like a Writer” by Francine Prose. A lot of things I have been doing by rote… watching how an author skips over time, opens a new scene, pulls back on descriptions, makes the mundane seem important to the story. My brain tucks these things away, and when I go to write a scene, I remember that Eric J Dickey wrote this scene about two friends at a club and it was really casual but told so much, or that Stieg Larsson was too descriptive, so watch that.
So what am I feasting on this week? Well, I’ve had an itch for the classics lately for some reason. I listened to 1984 and The Crucible via audiobook– both great. I have a thing for the Salem Witch Trials, so the Crucible in particular was great. I also listened to Betty White’s If You Ask Me… which was another great but short read. I knocked it out in two commutes!
I just started John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath because I have never read it. YES I have been warned against this book, but everytime I read the synopsis, it sounds interesting to me. Then again, I enjoyed 1984 and The Crucible. I might be weird.
I’m going to pick up something light and fun this weekend and read that, probably tomorrow. Don’t know what it’ll be yet, but it’ll be great.