This Book Riot post about reading rules and personality inspired me to think about my own “reading rules.”
At first I didn’t think I had any, and the whole idea sounded a little too formal to me. But the more I thought about it I realized that I do I have rules, or maybe just how I do things, I just never codified it.
So here we go:
- Always finish a book you start. I’ve only made exception to this about twice when the book was just so bad and going absolutely nowhere that I just couldn’t take it anymore! Even if I’m not loving it, I have to finish it just in case it gets better and I would miss the “better” by quitting. Also, not knowing how a book ends would drive me a crazy, even a bad book. Note: I’ve softened a little on this the last few years, concerned that there are so many great books to read I shouldn’t waste my time on a so-so book. I still can’t bring myself to just quit though.
- Give a book 100 pages before deciding if you’re into it or not. Anything less than 100 pages might be too soon. But certainly after 100 pages an author should have reeled me in. If it hasn’t happened by 100, probably not going to happen at all.
- Read more than one book at once. Sometimes I have several books going — one that’s serious, one that’s frivolous, one that’s deep, one on audio for when I’m driving, etc. — and that’s OK. Sometimes I don’t have a lot of time or I’m not in the mood for a real involved read so I keep a light and easy read going and save my deeper book for longer stretches of reading. Friends ask how do you keep the plot lines and characters straight when reading more than one book at time? The same way I keep TV characters separate on two different TV shows.
- Read the book before the movie. Otherwise the movie actors become the book characters in your mind and you’ll never have the opportunity to see what your imagination would have come up with on its own.
- If buying a series, buy all hardback or all paperback; don’t mix and match. This has more to do with bookshelf aesthetics than anything else but it’s still my personal rule.
- Never buy the movie cover. The original covers are so much prettier!
- Always underline and dog-ear favorite passages. Books impact our worldview, and if a story or description stands out to you mark it in some way so you can come back to it at a later time and see if it stands out to you still or if you think differently about it after you finish the book, if/when you the read book again or years down the road if you just pick it up off the shelf and thumb through.
- Loan your books! To trustworthy friends who will return and take care of them of course. Books are meant to be shared. Share them!
- Write your name in your books. I have fancy little “from the library of” stickers and I have a stamp with my name on it because that’s my style. Another idea is an embosser or maybe you just pencil your name or initials in the front cover. This serves two purposes: One, when you loan your books, your friends know who to return it to; and two, someday, if your books end up in a used bookstore or a thrift store, a buyer will know the name of the person who used to own it. I love buying used books with the former owner’s name and imagining who they were, did they like book, why did they get rid of it, etc.
- Document the year you read a book in the inside cover. Sounds silly but it’s kinda fun if you go to loan out a book or pick it up again for yourself to see what year you last read a book, recall what was going on at the time you last read it, and compare it to what’s going on now, noting changes in life and sometimes reading interests.