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?