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    10 rituals and rules I read by

    Every avid reader has a favorite genre as well as a favorite reading spot for snuggling up with a book.

    Every avid reader likely also has a few personal (private, perhaps) rituals and rules by which they read. The following are mine — some of which I hope you won't hold against me.


    Printed books beat digital.
    I get the attraction of books you can download and read anytime, anywhere. I actually own a Nook and have Kindle apps (and downloaded books) on my various techy devices. Pages in hand, though, bound hardcover or paperback, are my preferred delivery system for all books, fiction or non. Printed books better decorate a room than digital devices. And they're far easier to share with friends and family whom I just know would love certain stories as much as I did.

    I won't read a book after seeing a movie based on it.
    I will, though, watch a movie based on a book I've read. Not sure why this is. But it is.

    I resist reading "popular" books.
    The Harry Potter series? Sheesh. I so avoided that once it became a phenomenon. Gone Girl? I stood firm, refused to read it when everyone else was. Sometimes I'll eventually give such books a shot and pride myself on having not fallen prey to the popularity (ahem, Harry Potter never worked for me). Or, more often, I'll slap myself for resisting awesomeness (yep, the case with Gone Girl... and many others). Then there are those popular books, I must add, for which there's no question at all I'd consider such idiocy and poorly written pap — per respected critics — regardless of feverish fawning by international masses (gah, such Fifty Shades of Grey goofiness).

    Bending pages to mark stopping/starting spots is forbidden/verboten/just plain wrong.
    That's what bookmarks are for, if even just a sliver of paper, a business card, a square of toilet tissue at the very least. I collect bookmarks. And use them. Always.

    Marking books is not verboten.
    I underline, highlight, circle, scribble parts I want to remember, prose that rocked my heart. "Active reading," I'm told it's called. Which keeps me from being a liar — to myself or others — when considering myself an active sort of gal. In at least one way. (Of course, I don't do much marking in books I plan to pass along. Most underlines, circles, scribbles are rather private affairs... and can be distracting for those who read after me and hope to read between the lines on why such a passage mattered to me.)

    I do not finish every book I start.
    Authors are supposed to capture readers from the get-go. If one isn't doing his or her job and hasn't managed to make me want to continue in the first 50 or so pages, I no longer feel obligated to do so. There are far too many books idling on my bookshelf... or Kindle queue or Goodreads "to read" list to waste my time on groaners.

    When I finish a book, I emboss it with my name.
    I have a nifty gadget similar to a notary stamp for squishing up the title page of books I complete. Not because I worry someone will nab my book and I have obsessive possessive tendencies. I do so because I have forgetful tendencies, and I have pulled far too many books from my many shelves, settled in for story time, only to realize thirty or so pages into it that I read it before. Sometimes years before, sometimes months. Stamping books I plan to keep once read has proven the perfect solution. And proven to be one of life's little delights.

    I'm a slow reader.
    I once envied — and tried to emulate — friends, family, strangers who could knock out books by the handful in a week's time. I attempted speed reading, scan reading, skipping sections here in there in hopes of racking up the count like speedy readers I admired. I've given up on such, choosing instead to slowly savor each and every word writers slaved over. I know what it's like picking this word over that, imagining how my witty word choice might matter to those who read them. Not skim past them. I consciously try to read courteously. For the writer's sake. And for my sake, as I savor — and remember — far more when I devour slowly.

    I read every night. Or try to.
    Regardless of how tired I may be, I attempt reading a few pages in bed. Attempt being the operative word. The "few pages" often ends up being just a few paragraphs. Or sentences. Depending on how sleepy I am.

    I feel guilty if I read during the day on weekdays.
    I know, I know. That's stupid. And a habit I'm trying to break. To me, reading is pleasure. Business hours are meant for work, not play. So I feel guilty playing reading when I should be working. I'm getting better at convincing myself that as I'm a writer and writers must be readers, I can relax, nay, banish the rule. Reading, for me, is work. Pleasurable work. Work that still — when done often — makes me feel guilty.


    What rituals and rules do YOU read by?

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    Reader Comments (11)

    Lisa, I love this post! Reading has always been my favorite pastime. Libraries and bookstores have a strange, magical pull in my life. Until recently, I would have agreed completely with number one on your list. I resisted the reading technology for years until I started having a hard time reading the "small" print in most books. And you can't find everything you want in large print, so my Kindle goes with me almost everywhere now. I love that I can change the font and the contrast to make reading more comfortable. But I still love the feel and smell of a real book in my hands.

    August 24, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJacki G.

    I resist anything on Oprah's list.
    I give a book the first page or two. If I'm not hooked, I put it down.
    My personal library is shelved according to the Dewey Decimal Sydtem - I know where everything is...
    I only loan books I'm not interested in having returned. If it's something I truly care about, I purchase a second copy and loan it out.

    August 24, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSherry

    Love this post! #7 is BRILLIANT! I keep a log of my reading so I don't buy the same books more than once. #7 is way cooler.

    August 24, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterVicki Valenta

    When I read during the day, it's always with a cup of tea. I don't know when this started, but that's how it is.
    I will stay up all night to finish a good book, but I pay for it the next day!
    I judge books by the cover! I'm more likely to pick it up and see what it's about if the cover grabs my attention.
    I don't like listening to audible books. I'm distracted too easily for that.

    August 24, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAnnette

    You would hate my books! Unless it is first edition or author signed, my pages are dog eared and worn out. I read every day, and have found my Kindle to be invaluable.

    August 24, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterTam Warner Minton

    I love this and it so could have been my list too!
    I've been trying to make more time for reading,
    during the day.

    August 24, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterDoreen McGettigan

    This has to be one of my favorite of your posts. I really enjoyed reading about your reading habits, and marking up and passing along.... and then thinking about my own!

    August 24, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCarol Cassara

    I love reading - nothing beats finding a great novel or an author you can't get enough of. I am guilty of reading everything Nora Roberts writes (and I love her as JD Robb) I'm a big fan of reading for the sheer joy of it - nothing too highbrow because it takes too much effort. I love that you don't dogear your pages and I've been known to highlight passages when i'm reading a great book.

    August 24, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterLeanne

    I love this! I've never thought about my "Rules for Reading," but most of them are the same as yours. I will sometimes read something "hot," I liked "Gone Girl." Like you though, I've pretty much always been disappointed when I tried a book after the movie,but not the other way around. These rules have been fun to think about. Thanks Lisa.

    August 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBob (aka Axiesdad)

    I agree with your list except for a couple because I only read books from my library and they frown on me writing in or on them. :-) When we downsized thirteen years ago and moved across country we decided that we didn't need to accumulate books any more and decided to become frequent flyers at the library and have loved every moment of it. They have every book I could possibly want to read and if they don't I submit a request to purchase and so far they always approve it. But everyone to their own desires. :-)

    I used to be one of those people who thought if I started a book I was required to finish it. I'm already going to miss out on so many great books why make it worse? I think the first book I didn't finish was "It" and it almost felt sacrilegious !

    As for your number one - only paper books. Jenna and I were just discussing this and the wonderful thing about the Kindle is that no matter how many pages there are in that book you won't get a terrible hand cramp while reading it!

    August 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGrandma Kc
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