I was tagged by Dr Babus Ahmed over at Ajoobacats to share my reading habits. The teacher in me loves a good ‘getting to know you’ game, so here goes.
Do you have a certain place at home for reading?
Yes! I have a big leather reading chair next to our living room bookshelf, which is my favourite place to curl up. I also love reading in bed and in the bath. But I’ll read anywhere. I always carry my Kindle or a book with me.
Bookmark or random piece of paper?
I have HEAPS of bookmarks, mostly the kind they give out free at bookshops. I keep them in a book shaped box I found at a flea market in Melbourne a few years back. But I hardly ever remember to use them. If I’m reading a physical book, I usually end up marking my place with a shopping docket. Mostly though, I read on Kindle and only keep physical copies of the books I really love.
Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter/a certain amount of pages?
I can stop. I usually try to make it to the end of a paragraph. I actually don’t like stopping at the end of a chapter, which I think is a habit I’ve picked up as a writer: always stop in the middle of a scene so you’re excited to come back.
Do you eat or drink while reading?
Depends where I am. I’m not going to eat a bagel while reading in the bath, but if I’m settled down in my reading chair at night I usually have a cup of tea or a whisky.
Multitasking: Music or TV while reading?
I read in a cone of silence. Death to any who disturb me. Unless I’m on the train, or in a cafe or something. But I generally find it hard to concentrate when there’s other things going on. I always have my phone handy though, so that if I want to learn more about something in the book, I can Google it. For example, this week I reviewed Jo Walton’s My Real Children, which is an alternate history, so I did a bit of Googling to remind myself what actually happened and get a bit more context. I also take notes when I read, a hangover from my PhD days, which makes life much easier when it comes to writing reviews.
One book at a time or several at once?
I usually just read one book at a time for pleasure, but I also write Young Adult fiction, so I’m usually reading something else for research. For example, last year I was working on a manuscript titled Neverland, which was short listed for the 2015 Text Prize (!!!). The story is set on an island and my protagonist, Kit, loves sailing and pirate stories, so between reading for fun, I was also reading sailing encyclopaedias, watching sailing races and instructional videos on YouTube and revisiting Treasure Island, Peter Pan, The Odyssey, etc.
Reading at home or everywhere?
I prefer to read at home because it’s quiet, but I will read anywhere. A few years ago I went backpacking with a friend around the US and Europe. We spent a lot of time reading on that trip in airports, on trains, etc. We’re both huge bookworms and went to bookshops in every place we visited. It became a running joke for us to take photos of each other being really excited by something in our books, completely oblivious to the historical and cultural landmarks around us.
Reading out loud or silently in your head?
In my head. Unless I’m reading Bill Bryson, then I stop continuously to read points of interest to my husband. It annoys him greatly.
Do you read ahead or even skip pages?
No. Although I did always read the last page first as a kid and my favourite kind of stories are the ones where you know the ending from the beginning. I’m a big fan of tragedies. For me what happens isn’t half so interesting as how the author makes it happen. I don’t really like stories that hinge on a big twist.
Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?
I’m not too precious. If I have a physical copy of a book, it’s because I really love it and want to have it on hand to lend to friends. That said, I have a couple of ‘special editions’. I wrote about Donna Tartt’s The Secret History and John Green’s Looking for Alaska in my PhD thesis, and I got a little obsessed with both. I have ‘reading copies’ of each, but a very lovely friend also found me a signed first edition of The Secret History and John Green signed a copy of Looking for Alaska for me when I met him at a conference waaaaay back in 2009.
Do you write in your books?
…Maybe. I dog ear pages too. I see reading as an interactive process. Getting a Kindle was a good move for me, it makes it much easier to take notes and keep track of key passages.
I tag the following bibliophiles to answer the questions above (if they want to):
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