Reading Habits of the Highly Quirky

I’d like to use this blog more to talk about books I’m reading and enjoying than I have been lately. This is something I used to do quite often, to the point of getting free books from publishers and agents and stuff. But then I dropped that. I think there are a few reasons. First, I stopped blogging almost entirely and when I did come back the few brief times it was mostly to pimp my own stuff or my family or whatever. But one of the biggest reasons I haven’t done it since I came back blogging full force is because of my wonky reading habits. Now part of this is miscommunication (ie lying) about books I’ve told people I’ve read or will read and the books I’ve actually read or are reading. Some times it’s a true falsehood, but more often than not it’s a book I really planned on reading but something else got in the way. Case in point: the book I’m reading now.

I told a lot of people several months ago I was reading THE FINANCIAL LIVES OF THE POETS by Jess Walter. At the time I was reading it and quite enjoying it. But then, 30 pages in, I switched to writing short stories and decided all I wanted to read was short stories. So I abandoned POETS and then it came due back at the library so I took it back then forgot about it. Eventually my reading habits returned back normalishness and I was itching to read POETS again. Now I have it back from the library and I’m about 50 pages in and enjoying it quite immensely. Expect a full review when I’m done.

But this book is not the first sidelined by my reading patterns. My reading is very much influenced by not only my personal mood, but the mood of what I’m writing. Unlike most authors who say they don’t like to read what they’re writing, I have to. If I’m writing noir short stories I need to be reading noir short stories. When I was writing PI novels, almost all I read during the draft of a book was PI novels. When I was doing the first draft of MURDER BOY, all I read were caper-type crime novels or some variation on a theme.

I’m like this in other areas too. I’m an immersion sort of guy. When I was learning to play guitar, all I listened to was guitar centered music. Any time I’m attempting something new, I read or watch anything about the subject and as many examples of the form as I can find. I like to immerse myself in something and then figure out what my unique contribution to it can be. Many times I find I can’t bring anything unique to the table and I quickly move on to something else (see previously mentioned guitar learning). But my reading and writing have always been closely entwined.

Now there’s another reason I don’t always end up reading the books I tell people I am and that’s my own personal quirks about books. For example, the book I was reading prior to POETS was Stephen King’s UNDER THE DOME. I was a little more than 100 pages in to it and it was very enjoyable. But the logistics of carrying around a book that big back and forth to work where I do most of my reading made me give up on the book. If I owned the book (I got this one from the library too—which is where I get most of my books these days, a blog post for later I’m sure) and ever had a couple of free days at home to read it without having to take it anywhere I’d jump at the chance. But for now, it’s just one more book I said I was reading that I’m not.

Another example of this is BEAUTIFUL CHILDREN by Charles Bock. I’ve wanted to read this book since it first came out. I checked it out a couple of times from the library but for some reason, something about the hardcover version seemed awkward to me and I never quite enjoyed picking it up. Eventually a beautiful trade paperback edition came out that I was very excited about, so much so that I paid money to purchase it. Then, when I started reading it, I enjoyed it, but it’s written in a way where you have to really focus to take it all in. I don’t have a lot of focus these days so it keeps falling by the wayside. I’m hoping eventually to get a good couple hours to myself to get deep enough into it where I don’t mind putting it down and coming back to it.

How about youse all? What kind of stupid stuff causes you to put a book down you’d otherwise look forward to reading?.