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A Review of My Reading Habits

Sunday, March 25, 2012

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A Review of My Reading Habits | Faith Permeating Life

Let's do a fun post today!

I am copying Gina and Melbourne on My Mind, who each recently answered a bunch of questions about books. In case it is not already clear how much I love books... I do. I read about 50-60 books a year. (Yes, I keep track.)

Here are the questions:

If you could live in a fictional world, where would that be?
I don't read a ton of fiction, and even less fantasy, so I don't have a lot of other worlds to choose from. I would probably have to go with the wizarding world of Harry Potter.

Do you read in noisy or quiet places?
Mostly quiet places. I read at lunch, when it's quiet, and I read on the train in the "quiet cars." However, I've noticed that it's far less distracting to read in a non-quiet car when there's a general murmur of conversation around me than to read in the quiet car when there's that one oblivious person talking loudly on their cell phone. Sigh.

What was the first book you ever read?
I don't know for sure -- my mom probably remembers -- but I know that when I first learned to read, I read the book Go, Dog, Go a lot.

If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I'm going to go with the stereotypical-Christian answer of the Bible, with the understanding that I probably wouldn't have given this answer six months ago. And also that the Bible isn't really a book so much as a collection of books (and poetry and letters and more). One of my goals this year was to read more of The Message //Remix, and I'm loving it. I had read most of the Bible previously through various Bible studies, but this is like reading it for the first time because it takes me out of the trees of individual verses and back to the forest of the message. So if I could literally only read one thing for the rest of my life, I think I'd choose The Message or another translation of the Bible.

Favorite author?
I can't pick just one. No way.

Here are my top 10 (maybe):
  • William Shakespeare
  • Agatha Christie
  • David Eddings
  • Bill Bryson
  • Barbara Kingsolver
  • John Green
  • J.K. Rowling
  • Malcolm Gladwell
  • C.S. Lewis
  • E.L. Konigsburg

Do reviews influence your choices of reads?
Rarely. For fiction, I try to avoid reviews of books I'm planning on reading because I can't stand even tiny spoilers. But if a book captivates me, then the first thing I do after finishing it is to seek out reviews to see if other people noticed and resonated with the same things I did. For nonfiction, I might read a book after reading a review, but more than likely I got the main points from the review and don't feel a need to read the book unless the topic utterly fascinates me.

On the other hand, recommendations have a big influence on me. Most of what I read is because someone or other recommended it to me. This means that many times I will pick up a book having no idea what it's about except that someone thought I would like it. I like reading all kinds of things, so that's fine with me.

Fiction or nonfiction?
Half and half. I would have guessed that I read more nonfiction, but when I counted up last year's books (see the aforementioned tracking of every book I read) it came out almost even.

Have you ever met your favorite author?
Of all the authors listed above, I've only met John Green. Mike and I rode in an elevator with him and his brother Hank on 8/8/08. That was awesome and nerve-wracking. I've met John twice since then. Unfortunately several of my favorite authors are dead, although I would have very much liked to have met them.

Audiobooks or paperback?
Both. I like to have one of each going at the same time, a book to read on the train and at lunch, and another to listen to on my walks to and from the train station. Unfortunately our library has a pretty crappy selection of audiobooks (despite having an amazing collection of paper books) and the last few I've checked out have been broken, so lately I've just been listening to podcasts on my walks. But I love audiobooks for long car trips.

Classic or modern novels?
I like to read a mix. I go through phases where I read a bunch of classics and then I go back to more recent books. I think there's a little bit of a fuzzy line about what's considered a classic.

Book groups or solitary reading?
Solitary reading. Other than Bible study, I think I've only done one book group, when a group of girls from my floor read Boy Meets Girl (see my recommendation here) and then had a discussion about it. I think we were supposed to discuss every chapter but only got through one or two chapters. Other than that, Mike and I have read a few books together, and I enjoy those discussions a lot because he and I have similar perspectives. But generally, I like just reading by myself and occasionally seeking out other readers if a book sincerely touched me in some way.

If you could invite three dead authors to a dinner for four, whom would you invite?
I don't know. I know I said I wanted to meet my favorite authors who are dead, but I can't imagine Agatha Christie and David Eddings having a lot to talk about with each other. C.S. Lewis and Eddings, maybe, since they both invented fantasy worlds. But I wouldn't want it to be all men. OK, we'll say Lewis, Eddings, and Christie.

Your turn! How would you answer? Feel free to link up in comments if you answer these on your own blog.


  1. Yay, I was hoping someone else would play along!! :) I'm kind of like you with the reviews - I finish a book and then go "Okay, what did other people think about it??". This happens a lot if I *don't* like it - it makes me feel better if I find out that half of Goodreads thought it was awful too!!

    Also, after you mentioned Agatha Christie and fantasy worlds in the same sentence, now I want to rewatch the episode of Doctor Who where they meet Agatha Christie!!

    1. Yeah, I do that sometimes with a book I didn't like if it's also a super popular book. Like I got really irritated with The Four-Hour Work Week because the author makes a whole bunch of assumptions about the kind of job you have, all while saying his process will work for anyone. Since it was a bestseller, I just had to go see if I was the only one who found the book annoying (I wasn't).

      I still haven't jumped on the Doctor Who bandwagon, but now that Jorah, Alice, and Emmy all have, I feel like it won't be long before I cave too :)

  2. Im interested in why you wouldn't have given the answer of The Bible 6 months ago? I have read it through, but I must say it was more of a duty than a vocation :)

    As a fellow voracious reader, I appreciated this post.


    1. Pretty much exactly what you said, that I felt like reading the Bible was more of a duty than something I would do by choice. Every time I read it I got this feeling like, "Sigh, I've read/heard these verses 100 times." But since I started reading The Message I've been reminded how many great stories there are in the Bible. I've been reading the Gospels at night and it's actually been hard for me to put it down and go to sleep, and the other night I finished and read right on through to Acts. Rather than simply revisiting the same verses and stories I hear people quote all the time, I'm getting a much broader picture of Jesus' ministry, and it's caused me to ask a ton of questions and re-think a lot of things. So while I couldn't previously imagine spending the rest of my life re-reading the Bible, now I think I would get more out of doing that than re-reading any other book.

      I'd love to know your responses to these questions!

  3. That is so awesome you got to meet John and Hank Green!

    1. Yeah, I was pretty excited. And Hank gave me a hug because I had been proofreading ecogeek for the previous year for free. Pretty much made my life :)

  4. I think the top 10 authors is a fun challenge, so here goes:

    Kurt Vonnegut

    Dorothy Day

    Neil Gaiman

    Dave Eggers

    Ernest Hemingway

    Mark Twain

    Gordon R. Dickson

    Margaret Weiss & Tracy Hickman (package deal)

    Aldous Huxley

    Ray Bradbury

    1. Cool, thanks for sharing! I am also a fan of Huxley and Bradbury. Brave New World was one of the first books Mike and I read together -- my choice; he hadn't read it before.


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