5 Rules of Reading

January 26, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Posted in Book Blather | 7 Comments

I saw this on Rob Around Books and thought I would try to turn it into a meme.  Most likely we each have our own particular reading rules, and I’m sure we’ll all learn from each other’s habits as they unfold in their glorious idiosyncracy.  Without further ado, here are my personal rules of reading, the rules that allowed me to read 500 books in a year without losing my mind.  (Or…?)

  1. ABAB – Always Bring A Book.  It’s important to bring a book everywhere, and also to make sure there’s enough left of it to last in case of unplanned delays.  Naturally one would never put oneself in the position of going about bookless, not voluntarily at any rate.  One might sooner go without clothes than without something to read.  In a pinch, one can use the book to cover up anything that might raise objections from the populace.
  2. No Spoilers.  The delight to be gained from encountering a book completely free of expectations, with no foreknowledge of the plot or characters, can hardly be overstated.  Book jackets must be shunned.  Book reviews must be skimmed with care to blur past anything that would indicate any spoiling details.  Above all, one must avoid standing within earshot of any 14-year-old who blurts out the major plot point of the fourth Harry Potter novel before one has read that far.
  3. Be Realistic.  One must accept one’s schedule for what it is, acknowledging that it is scarcely possible to read more than 30 hours during the work week and unlikely that more than 20 will be available over the weekend.  It is possible to develop a fairly accurate estimate of how many pages or books one may read over a day, a week, and so on.  The realism comes into play as one gazes at one’s TBR stack and yields to the insight that it represents several years of work – assuming no new book ever flaps an enticing page in one’s direction.
  4. Keep Records.  Once one has recovered from the violent fits of weeping occasioned by the realization that only a scant few thousand books can be enjoyed properly in one lifetime, the necessity of record-keeping becomes obvious.  A list of Books to Be Read must be maintained, and one must adhere to it tenaciously, ruthlessly.  Life is too short to waste on second-rate books!  If, on some blessed day, a book should be published that appears more attractive than another on one’s list, one must sigh and cross off the less worthy book.  Or simply sleep less and read both.
  5. Exploit a Local Library.  A library does more than house thousands of delectable books.  One may place requests for books that others are reading, and it is even possible to request books from other libraries near and far.  Most likely one can choose out-of-print books, or volumes that would exceed one’s budget – a much more practicable method than selling plasma whenever one needs something to read.


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  1. I love this! I will have to do this very soon!

  2. I agree with all of your rules (except for #5 – I travel for work and the library isn’t a huge fan of taking the books out of country), especially number 1! Most important rule of life = always bring a book because really, you just never know when you might need one, right?

    • Don’t tell my librarian, but I’ve taken library books to Mexico, Hawaii, and Canada. It just goes to show that when you check out a book, you never know where it’s been. 😉

      • Hmm… interesting idea 😉

  3. I took 2 books from my hometown library back to Korea in the summer of 2007 then returned them by mail shortly before Christmas.

    • …Mail! I never thought of that! That must have cost nearly as much in shipping as just buying them.

      I wonder if libraries will ever start to carry e-books. That would tend to solve this sort of problem.

  4. I never let myself carry library books along when I travel. I’m always too afraid something will happen to it.

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