What are Your Reading Rules?

BlogHer Original Post

I've been thinking a lot about reading rules lately. I don't like to think about reading having rules. It seems opposite to how I approach reading. Reading should be enjoyable. That isn't to say it's always fun because let's be honest, even good books sometimes have sections you find yourself slogging through. But overall the experience should be enjoyable and adding in a bunch of rules just sullies that up for me. So why am I thinking about reading rules?

It's simple, I keep seeing discussions about reading rule pop up around the internet and people are making me think. First I'm going to point Rita because in her post about how life is too short to sit through bad movies she said this:

"I used to be a compulsive book-finisher. If I started reading something, no matter how bad it was, I would finish it. At some point I realized a) this was stopping me from taking chances on new writers and b) there isn't enough time in my life to read all the good books in the world, let alone some bad ones."

I am not a book finisher. I've never really been unless I've had to for assignments or there were really no other books around and reading a book that I didn't really like was better than having no book to at all to read. I don't read a minimum number of pages or chapters. I really didn't think I had any rules about finishing a book but after thinking about it I realized I sort of do. A book has to make me want to finish it. If I can set the book down and not care even a little bit about knowing how it ends? It's not doing it's job and I will end up picking up another book. I really thought that this my oly real reading rule. I was wrong.

Jeanette Solomon shared her personal reading rules on Book Riot. Her very first rule made me laugh. "Always stop at the end of a chapter. Always." I am not laughing because I think it's a bad rule. No, I'm laughing because I am so very, very bad at this. If it's a particularly engrossing work of fiction I often don't even notice I've hit the end of the chapter. My brain just skips over the fact it's supposed to take a little break and I just keep trucking along. If I really need to stop reading at the end of a chapter -- most often when it's after midnight and I have to get up and work in the morning -- I do have some measure of success if I place a bookmark at the end of the chapter and read until I reach the bookmark.

dogeared book page

Credit: quinn.anya

In response to the piece on BookRiot, Leila at Bookshelves of Doom wrote about her own reading rules. And she kind of made me squirm with this one:

"I'm a note taker. If I don't have pencil and paper at hand—or am too lazy to get up and go find pencil and paper—I will dog ear pages. Yes, that's right, I AM AN UNREPENTANT DOGEAR-ER."

I will confess that when I was younger I was a frequent dogear-er. When I was a student I dogeared as well as highlighting and writing in my textbooks. (I often did this to point of excess -- sometimes it was the only way to make sure I didn't fall asleep while reading.) It should not make me squirm but at some point I stopped dogearing pages and just the thought of doing it makes me cringe.

Yet I know I do things that would make other book owners squirm. I leave books open and facedown all the time. I'll place something that has no excuse being a bookmark (often pens) in a book to mark my place, close it and then let things pile up on top of it. I will be very careful when reading paperbacks because I don't want to break the spines but if it's a really thick paperback and the only way to hold it open comfortably is to crack the spine? I do so with an excessive amount of enthusiasm. I take the book jacket off hardcovers when I'm reading them because they usually annoy me (so slippery!) but then I just toss them aside and they probably end up in worse shape then if I just kept them on.

So yes, I have rules. They aren't written in stone but I have them and I believe we all do, even if we don't like to admit it.

What are your reading rules?

Books Section Editor Karen Ballum also blogs at Sassymonkey and Sassymonkey Reads.

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