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31Things | Day Three: Read

Real life = messy bookshelves.


I've always loved reading. And so far as I know, I've always been really good at it.

My first favorite book was Cinderella. According to my mother, when I was 4 years old, she and I were somewhere out in public, maybe in the waiting room at the pediatrician's office, and I had my book in my lap. I was telling the story to another child, speaking verbatim the words on the page. The other child's mother was very surprised that I was actually reading the book so well. Well, no, not really... I'd simply heard the story so many times that I had the entire thing memorized, word for word, and knew exactly where each page turn fell. As an adult and a parent myself, I now know that that is one of the early reading skills.

Sometime shortly after I had started reading, our family was driving in the car and we passed a movie theater. "Snow White!" I read on the marquee. "I want to go see Snow White!" I remember my mother making a comment that I was going to be a problem, now that I could read... Again, as a parent myself now, I understand perfectly what she meant... lol

My reading skills developed rapidly as I grew up. In 5th grade I read my first adult novel, The Eyes of the Dragon, by Stephen King. In high school I read Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment.

I've always been a very fast reader; by the time I was in high school I could devour a typical mass-market paperback in a couple of days.


When I first started reading prolifically, I read for entertainment. I wasn't allowed to watch TV growing up, so reading books was my way to enjoy some downtime. I'm actually grateful for all the hours I spent my youth reading, and I remember many of those books with fondness.

I definitely read for escape. I love submerging myself in the world created by a good book, and losing touch with my own reality for a little while.

I read to learn. And I don't mean the textbooks of my student days, although there was certainly plenty of that. I knew I was really a grown-up when I started checking out the nonfiction section at the library, and reading about different topics because they looked interesting. I love to learn... and I love to share what I've learned with other people.

I read to connect with others. Sometimes after I read a really good book I feel a connection to the author, and I will seek out his/her other books, maybe search for a website or forum where I can learn even more and discuss with other fans. I've also been privileged to be a part of two really fantastic book clubs over the years. I love the connection that reading and discussing a good book that can form between friends. I love hearing different perspectives, and how a good thorough discussion can open my eyes to a new way of seeing the world. I also really, really love that being part of a book club induces me to read things I never would have read otherwise. Expanding my horizons.


In theory, I love e-readers. The environmental impact appeals to me, as does the idea of being able to store hundreds (thousands?) of books on a slim 5x7 tablet rather than taking up valuable floor and wall space in my home with towering bookshelves. I think it would be awesome to be able to carry my entire library with me wherever I go, and the instant gratification must be really nice: the ability to buy and download a book right then and there, with no trips to the store or waiting for online shipping, no backorders, no request queue at the library.

All that said, I am definitely a traditional paper-and-ink kind of girl when it comes to my preferred reading format. I like being able to curl up with a book on the sofa, and for some reason an electronic device just doesn't have the same sort of cuddle appeal. I like the feel of the paper under my fingers, and I love the smell of old libraries. I like being able to flip through physical pages, to see how far I've gotten or to dread how little I have left. I like the weight of a full-size hardback on my lap.

I went through a short phase where I was buying most of the books I read (I shop at Barnes & Noble and Half-Price Books) - an expensive habit for someone that consumes books at the rate I can. These days I try to use the library as much as possible, even when it means waiting for an interlibrary loan or checking out an e-book to read on my Kindle app... on my iPhone (thankfully I've only had to do that once!).

I used to read strictly fiction, and mostly horror at that. Dean Koontz has for year been one of my all-time favorite authors - that started because my dad liked his books and it was something we could connect over. Like I said above, over the years my interests have broadened substantially, largely due to the influence of my book clubs, and today I will read pretty much anything if it looks interesting enough.

Outlander books by Diana GabaldonI've come to realize lately that my very favorite stories are epic novels: the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, Pillars of the Earth and World Without End by Ken Follett, The Lord of the Rings writings by Tolkien (much more than just the famous trilogy), Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell... and many others of similar ponderous length. I love being able to really sink my teeth into a story, and I love the depth of character and the intricacy of plot that the authors are able to achieve. I hate finishing a shorter novel and being left wanting, wishing that there was more. (A reason I think I also prefer TV series over movies.) My ability to read really fast makes the sheer size of these big books not so intimidating.

I enjoy reading my favorite books over and over again. The one downside to my speedy reading that I've noticed is that I often miss details. So for me, the reading of a book has the potential to be a different experience, as I pick up more (and different) details each time I read it. And as my life gets busier, and I have more things taking up space in my head, I often forget things quickly - so if I let enough time go by, I'll forget enough details that it's almost like reading a book for the first time, albeit with a vague feeling of familiarity - or better yet, like re-connecting with an old friend I haven't seen for many years.

As much as I love books, I am not as big a fan of magazines. I guess maybe the content isn't as deep as I'd like. And there's definitely too many ads. I do have two current subscriptions, one to Real Simple (which I plan to let expire, since I never read it), and a lingering attachment to Creating Keepsakes - in spite of my disappointment over everything they've lost in the last 5 years.

As far as online content goes, I haven't done a ton of reading in the past but that is slowly changing. I have a small list of blogs that I follow (linked in the right sidebar). I am trying to get better about commenting on their posts and joining in the communities that get built around them. Mostly I read online about scrapbooking and photography, with some odd music and interior design topics thrown in. Occasionally I will decide that I need to know all I can about some topic and I will spend hours and days researching online. It's at those times that I struggle to remember how I ever functioned without Google.

reading spot with cat
My reading spot, complete with cat.


I have a favorite spot on the couch where I prefer to cuddle up with my books. I like to sit sideways, with my back against the arm of the couch, and my knees pulled up to support the book. Occasionally I will read in bed if it's very late, or the kids are being too noisy, or I'm not feeling well, but the lighting in there is less than ideal, and I can never seem to find the position that is perfectly comfortable. And then of course there is the possibility that I might fall asleep. ;)


Obviously, since reading has been such a huge part of my life, I am keen to instill an appreciation for it in my children. We sowed that seed when they were very young, reading to them every night before bed, even before they were old enough to understand what was being said. I am happy that I have never had to say "no" when my child asked me to read a book, at any time of day. Now that Hannah is an independent reader (she started 4th grade this year!), I enjoy talking with her about the books she reads and her response to them. As she gets older, I hope that good books will be something that will connect us. Maybe we can even revive the old Mommy Track (a mother's group) Book Club in a mother/child format - wouldn't that be fun?

What about you, do you like to read? Maybe you should consider following me on GoodReads. What's your favorite book?


  1. I've always loved to read, too, and am a very fast reader as well. I have gotten so busy over the past years and have let too much TV watching and phone nonsense get in the way of reading good books. I really need to do something about that!

    1. Me too! I have really been stepping up the hours of practicing, as well as the production of scrapbook pages (not to mention the consumption of online classes lol), so my reading has also taken a backseat lately. A good friend of mine has offered to let me read her copy of the Sookie Stackhouse books though (the series that inspired the HBO show True Blood); I love the show and am looking forward to reading the books. :)


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