There are writers who write within a genre and those who write outside of them, too. But what about the readers? How do you read? What do you read? Why do you read?
Now, don’t laugh, but I started to become aware that I like to read everything like cereal boxes and shampoo bottles when I was a teen. Perhaps this is part of the growing up experience, showing interest in the world or perhaps I was just beginning to flex my reading muscles. The odd thing is I don’t remember learning to read – at all.
And even though I’m from a working class family and was never read bedtime stories, books found their way into my imagination’s heart. When I was around five or six, I remember looking through my dead father’s books carefully, trying to connect to who he was and taking the books I found interesting back to my room.
He read to learn. All of his books were textbooks or non-fiction. From dream dictionaries to engineering tomes, he had a fascinating collection that spoke volumes to me for many years.
My mother, on the other hand, read Thai soap opera and movie star magazines. She religiously poured over newspapers from back home, always sitting on the floor (Thai style) and usually with one leg out in front of her. Later, and after much denial, she finally reads with her reading glasses and has started to branch out like many Thais these days, reading novels that have been translated from English.
My mom’s boyfriend, or step-dad as I call him out of convenience, was the one who read fiction. At this time, I was reading Nancy Drew mysteries and series like Cheerleaders, Sweet Valley High and my favorite, Sunfire. He was the one who suggested adult fiction like Charlie Mike, a book about the Vietnam War and The Blooding, a crime thriller centered on a murdering rapist. Then we’d talk about the issues raised or just about the author’s perspective in general.
As a result, I read for knowledge and escapism. When I was younger, escapism seemed to be what I wanted. I read a lot of historical fiction, fantasy and Sidney Sheldon. But somewhere in my 30s, I started to really turn more towards non-fiction in the form of true stories, the craft of writing, education and spirituality. My blog reader also reflects my diverse tastes and varied reading preferences.
This is because I am a firm believer in the interconnectedness between disciplines and I greatly enjoy learning about how seemingly different subjects collide to make matter.
Recently, I finished WEEKEND BOOK: How to Write a Book Over a Weekend by John Allen, Rework by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson and Amy Poehler’s memoir, Yes, Please! I read a lot of blogs and articles, too. Sometimes I have so many tabs open, I open another browser to help me organize and still search.
Although the author that spans time and place, and who I always inevitably return to, is Agatha Christie. One day I’ll have to sit down and really analyze why I adore her so much.
I’m also a slow reader. I used to read fast and returned to my favorites over and again. But when I slowed down I realized how much I was missing, the way a writer put a sentence together, the words chosen and so I began to savor words.
What this means is you can never ask me to be a part of those crazy “read a book in a week or in a month” challenges! Unless all the books are fiction and are sooo good that I refuse to go to sleep until I have finished it!
When I read, I like to take notes. Sometimes I get inspired and jot down quotes, words or ideas that I gain from a passage. I used to underline and write little notes in the book, but I’ve gotten out of this habit because expats recycle books heavily. So now everything gets written down in my journal. But notes are essential because inspiration sometimes needs a reminder to come out and play.