I’ve been a book nerd ever since I learnt to read. Even before I learnt to read, as my mother read to me from the time I was six months old, so it’s all her fault.
As a child, my favourite activity was to curl up on the couch with my head in a book, while my peers were outside playing football and riding bikes. (I did that as well, when I ran out of books). And it’s still my favourite activity, although it now has to share top billing with writing books. Like most authors, my passion for writing evolved from my love of reading.
When you’ve been doing something for well over 50 years, you invariably develop some habits or routines around it. So for the first time in public, I’m confessing to my book nerdy quirks and practices. Some of you may think them strange, others will nod your heads knowingly.
I don’t finish a book if it doesn’t grab me in the first couple of chapters.
This is not such a strange habit, because I know plenty of readers who do the same. But I know equally as many who plough their way through a book until the end, grumbling all the while because they’re hating it. Life’s too short to spend reading a book I’m not enjoying, when there are so many books on my WTR (want to read) list.
Sometimes, though, I will give a book more than one chance, allowing for the fact that I may not have been in the right frame of mind when I tried to read it the first time, particularly if it’s a book that has attracted rave reviews from other readers.
An example of this is Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I have started it at least three times; have read probably the first two chapters, but find it so dull and the characters so uninspiring that I can’t bring myself to continue.
On the other hand, I loved Lord of the Rings and that takes more than two chapters to get into the story. Oh well, I’ve never claimed to be rational.
I have a photographic memory when it comes to books and authors.
My brain sops up information on books and authors like a sponge, even if the author is one whose books I haven’t read and am not likely to. Regardless of what era they’re from, I’m interested in authors’ lives, their writing processes, the books they’ve written and what inspired them. So my brain retains all that information and buries all the less important stuff, such as the PIN number for my bank account or the name of the person I was introduced to three minutes ago (unless they’re a famous author).
Consequently, I’m a great person to have on your team on trivia nights for the literary questions, but as for the rest… I’ll go and get the drinks. Years ago, when playing Trivial Pursuit I always gave a holler of delight when I landed on the brown square (Arts and Literature in the original game) because it was almost a guarantee for a brown wedge (or piece of cake, as we called them). As an aside, whatever happened to Trivial Pursuit? Did it live up to its name and become too trivial?
I love going to appointments at the doctor or dentist.
In fact any appointment where you’re sitting in a waiting room. Because instead of thumbing through dog-eared Readers Digests from the Paleolithic era or trashy gossip magazines, I can while away the time reading my book, which of course I have packed in my handbag.
Reading during the day when I’m supposed to be writing is a guilty pleasure for me and I especially enjoy my doctor’s appointments, as she is invariably running behind schedule and I can usually count on at least 45 minutes reading time.
My dentist, on the other hand is annoyingly prompt with his appointment times and I’m usually only a couple of pages into the book when he calls me in. I once turned up half an hour early so I could sit on his comfy lounge in the waiting room with ocean views to read my book, only to have him call me in after five minutes!
I thought he probably wouldn’t take too kindly to my asking, ‘Can I just finish this chapter?’
I am a book sniffer.
This is how I get high. I came out of the closet as a book sniffer about five years ago on my previous blog All Writers Are Crazy, and here’s an excerpt from it:
The words on the page are only part of the story. For me, reading is also a tactile and olfactory experience. I love the feel of a book in my hand, its reassuring solidity and the texture of the pages as I turn them – sometimes new and starched, other times soft and pliable from the hands that have turned them before me.
But the real pleasure is the smell. Like a wine connoisseur who inhales the bouquet of the wine before tasting it, I’m compelled to breathe in the pages of a book before I read it. The best way to smell a book, in case you’re wondering, is to hold it up to your nose and flip through the pages.
Like wines, each book has its own distinctive aroma depending on where it’s from. Fresh and crisp with a hint of woodiness if straight from the bookshop, (sometimes you can still smell the print), stale and musty if from the library, add a strong suggestion of mildew if from the second-hand bookshop.
Since I wrote that, many other readers have admitted to sniffing books, so now I don’t feel so much of a freak. Here’s a blog post on 3 Reasons Why Book Nerds Love the Smell of Books.
I don’t read short stories in order.
I’ve left this one till last because it’s the most shocking. Yes, dear reader, it’s true. In anthologies of short stories, I don’t read them in order. I jump all over the book, picking and choosing stories according to my mood and how much time I have. That’s the beauty of having a variety of stories in the one book – some will appeal more than others, and some I don’t read at all.
My partner, however, starts at the first story and keeps reading till he gets to the end. And I’m sure there must be many others who do the same. It’s a logical way to read, but to my mind, logic doesn’t come into it. It’s more fun doing it my way, like a lucky dip.
Do you have any strange reading habits you’d like to confess to? Please reveal all in the comments box below – I promise I won’t tell a soul.
Robin Storey is an Australian author from the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. She is a certified book nerd and has no weird hobbies or unusual pets.