Very Bad Reading Habits

I have a confession to make … I have some very bad reading habits. In a perfect world, I would be a perfect reader – the kind of reader who buys a book, dutifully reads it from cover-to-cover and reads in total silence. I am not such a reader.

My Bad Reading Habits are as follows:

I’m a skipper: I regularly take peeks at the pages ahead of where I am at in a book. I do this for several reasons:
• to see if a slow book is going to get any more interesting
• because I like to pre-empt where the plot is taking me and want to confirm my suspicions (I do this a lot when I’m reading crime or mystery books)
• if I am really enjoying a book where the heroine has a couple of choices for love interests (because I like to know which love interest I should be supporting from the start)
• because life is too short to waste on a book that isn’t reeling me in. If it starts getting better mid-way, I know to persevere and keep going.

Note: If I love a book, I usually refrain from doing this and will let the author take me on a journey where the destination is unknown. Even though I can barely stand the surprise!

I’m an abandoner: I buy the book. I start it. And if it doesn’t suck me in, I abandon it. This makes me feel incredibly guilty. It’s like buying an item of clothing that you never wear. Some women have a shoe habit, I have a book habit. The abandoned book sits beside my bed, looking at me reproachfully. Then it gets exiled to my bookshelf when another book takes its place in my heart. I think to myself that ‘one day’ I will pick it up again and read it. I seldom do. It sits there and eventually ends up being donated to a charity shop in pristine condition. I like to think that someone else will give it the attention I never gave it.

Books I have abandoned and should have read include: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts and A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin.

I’m a devourer: I read books like I eat cake – too quick for my own good. I should take more time to savour the words instead of gobbling them up so fast I forget what I’ve just read. Just think of how long some poor author has slaved away over one sentence and I’ve probably missed its beauty because I’m whizzing by.

I’m a judger: I tend to turn my nose up at snobbish books. You know the ones that are published dripping with literary praise and are accompanied by reviews that use words you’ve never heard before. If I can’t even decipher the review, I know the book will give me trouble. These books scare me. I fear that I will need a dictionary, thesaurus and a PhD to get through each sentence. They also stop me from doing my usual speed reading which then causes me to abandon them. I distrust books or authors who place themselves above the teeming reading masses.

But I feel I need to read more of these books. I need to get outside of my comfort zone and find out why the literati are raving about the kind of books you will never find for sale in Target. As long as it’s not a case of ‘The Emperor’s New Book’ where people think it’s cool to like something because no one wants to admit they have no idea what it’s about.

I’m a non-sharer: It’s MY book! All mine! My precious! No, you can’t lend my book because 9 times out of 10 you’re not going to return it … I don’t like to lend books unless you’re family and I can raid your shelf afterwards to get my book back. But if I am moving and need to offload 6 boxes of books then you’re welcome to take your pick!

I’m a multi-tasker: I admit to reading two books at the same time. I usually do this if the current book I am reading is in danger of becoming abandoned and there’s another exciting book waiting behind it, ready to prove its worth. I also have a nasty habit of reading whilst performing other tasks. I read on public transport and listen to music at the same time – usually to block out noisy commuters. I read during TV ad breaks so I can get in some reading time. (It’s difficult to find time to read.) And I read whilst eating lunch or dinner (often to the poor book’s detriment).

I’m a follower: I happily admit to jumping on many book bandwagons. Sometimes books are bestsellers and hugely popular for a reason – ‘cause they’re so good! I don’t mind being sucked into a massive marketing vortex and spat out the other side. Hell, I’ve even worked on book marketing campaigns and believed my own hype. While there’s something nice about discovering a good book or author before the masses and declaring ‘I liked them before they were popular’, as long as you enjoy the book, who really cares how you came by it.

Last confession … sometimes, very, very occasionally, I dog-ear the pages. And it makes me feel very, very bad.

What are your bad reading habits?

The No. 1 crime against books

37 thoughts on “Very Bad Reading Habits

  1. Tundun Adeyemo May 27, 2012 / 4:14 pm

    Written very well! You have described thousands of readers. And possibly even me!


  2. Musha Slater May 27, 2012 / 4:45 pm

    Wow, a couple of those qualities describe me. I’m not a multi-tasker and I certainly DON’T dog ear by books. That is bad. Another bad habit I have is buying books that I know I will never read. I just them because they’re cheap, like less than a dollar cheap. I do that because I call myself a book collector and say that its to expend my book collection. Some days, I look at those books I will never read and hear them silently cursing me. It haunts me in my dreams. Great post, by the way.


    • janereads May 27, 2012 / 4:52 pm

      Thanks for your reply. I also have a habit of buying cheap books and then not reading them.


      • Musha Slater May 27, 2012 / 10:33 pm

        Thank god I’m not the only one who does it. A friend to share my bad habits. Hahaha…


  3. sherrie May 27, 2012 / 4:52 pm

    I’m a judger too. I have to confess I didn’t read any of Oprah’s book club picks because I had no idea what they were talking about during the shows about the books. They’d always say how the book changed their lives in some way and how such and such had a hidden meaning. Let’s say a book says, ‘he looked up at the clouds and then took a bite of his apple’, someone would say, “Oprah, when he bit that apple you just knew it meant he was going to go get a rescue dog.” Why couldn’t he have just been hungry?

    Another bad reading habit I have is staying up all night reading. If a book sucks me in it’s like I’ve drank gallons of coffee. I’ll walk around all the next day feeling like a slug but still want to tell anyone who will listen how good the book was and what happened. Maybe this counts as two bad habits!


    • janereads May 27, 2012 / 4:56 pm

      You made some great points! I just realised I have even more bad reading habits. I’ve definitely stayed up too late to finish a book and felt like a zombie at work the next day. I also liked your comment about ‘profound’ Oprah book club moments – or ‘aha’ moments as Oprah liked to call them. 🙂


  4. Ashley May 27, 2012 / 5:35 pm

    Wow all of these are pretty spot on for me too! One of my bad reading habits is rereading my favorite books over and over again when I have a huge stack of unread books to get through!


    • janereads May 27, 2012 / 5:40 pm

      Oh, that’s an interesting reading habit. I used to do that but not so much these days.


  5. northmum May 27, 2012 / 5:51 pm

    How interesting – in some ways I’m very similar to you but in others I’m completely different. I started leaving a comment here but it got so long I think I’m going to blog my own habits in response! Loving your blog, by the way, since I first saw it last week 🙂


    • janereads May 27, 2012 / 5:54 pm

      Thanks very much! I’m looking forward to reading about your habits.


      • northmum June 2, 2012 / 6:45 pm

        I’ve posted now – it’s been a manic week so I’ve only finished it today – hope you enjoy!


        • janereads June 2, 2012 / 8:06 pm

          I’ve been waiting to see what you would write. Great post!


  6. mary May 27, 2012 / 6:27 pm

    I may not dog-ear the books, but for really interesting books, I read the ending before I begin the book! I know, it sucks!! If I don’t do so, I end up reading too quickly and skipping stuff. It happened with The count of Montecristo.


    • janereads May 27, 2012 / 6:29 pm

      Ooh, that’s bad! 🙂


  7. amandameetsbook May 27, 2012 / 7:08 pm

    I hate dog-eared pages! I hate doing it, but sometimes I do, too! What helps is to buy used books and then you don’t feel quite so bad because the book is already slightly worn in.

    What drove me crazy was when I took my very first upper-division literature class and there was no way around it: I had to write on the pages because there were so many notes to remember.

    What I’ve learned, and this may seem silly, is that folding the pages, writing on the pages, all of that brings you closer to the book and makes the act of reading more intimate. Fold those pages!


    • janereads May 27, 2012 / 8:18 pm

      I like your philosophy that folding the pages and writing on them brings you closer to the book. I sometimes dog-ear the page of a book if it has a really good passage that I want to use in a review. But I have to admit that when I dog-eared the book in the photo it just felt really wrong.


  8. easyondeyes May 27, 2012 / 7:10 pm

    I hate giving my books away too. It definitely doesn’t come back in the same condition I gave it. Very well written! 🙂


    • janereads May 27, 2012 / 8:11 pm

      Thanks! I am glad to hear that I’m not the only non-sharer out there. 🙂


  9. 1 book 1 movie May 27, 2012 / 9:03 pm

    Very interesting post! I’m am an abandoner with: eat, pray, love and white oleander. I only had a few chapters left, but just couldn’t get through them for some reason…might have to finish them some day.


    • janereads May 27, 2012 / 9:41 pm

      I wonder if ‘some day’ will ever come? Thanks for stopping by.


  10. Lea Jurock May 28, 2012 / 5:26 am

    I do most of these things as well! I also abandoned Game of Thrones. I’ve abandoned a few other books and I dog ear pages sometimes. My big issue is that I pile a bunch of books everywhere instead of putting them back on the shelf. 😛


    • janereads May 28, 2012 / 7:35 am

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who abandoned Game of Thrones. I love the TV show though!


  11. shelleyrae @ Book'd Out May 28, 2012 / 1:43 pm

    I dog ear pages and I’m a reluctant sharer, I far too often read til 4 in the morning even though I have to get up at 7, I read on the loo (and during ad breaks, while eating, cooking, cleaning and walking anywhere), I buy more books that anyone could possibly need and I read a little obsessively 🙂


    • janereads May 28, 2012 / 5:43 pm

      You sound like a dedicated reader. No wonder you get through so many books in a week! 🙂


  12. hippieonthegrid May 29, 2012 / 1:50 pm

    There are so many books I want to read I tend to force myself to read the ones I “should” while I longingly look at the ones I really want to be reading at the time. Love the post!


  13. eshy June 1, 2012 / 7:00 am

    THIS IS AN AMAZING POST! I love it. Thank you. Keep writing.


  14. moi du toi photography July 25, 2012 / 12:27 am

    Oh my gosh! I can’t believe I have so many of the same habits, especially the one about abandoning a book that doesn’t grip me, I’m amazed at how many people soldier on to the bitter end even though they are not enjoying the book. Thanks so much for stopping by my place, following and taking the trouble to leave a comment. ♥ moi
    PS I love the garden and house on your blog background


    • janereads July 25, 2012 / 7:08 am

      Thanks for returning the favour and stopping by my place 🙂 BTW, the garden photo was taken at Hampton Court in the UK.


  15. Ms Lapping August 7, 2012 / 12:32 am

    I have ALL the same ‘bad’ habits -seriously! And have also abandoned the same three novels you mention, plus others like ‘Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit.’ for starters…oh dear!


  16. booksonthetube August 24, 2012 / 9:46 pm

    I recognise so many of these habits! Except for skipping, I never ever do that. Sometimes I look to the end so I can work out the percentage of pages I have left but I always do it carefully so I won’t see any of the words.

    The dog earing I do though and I like it when I find a secondhand book that has bent corners because it’s nice to know someone else loved it before me. As for multitasking; I have my out and about book, my morning book (for reading during breakfast) and quite often another one or two as well…


    • janereads August 24, 2012 / 10:12 pm

      I like the idea of a book you only read at breakfast. This time of day is usually rushed for me. I like reading on the bus on the way to work. It’s one of my favourite times of day.


  17. cricketmuse April 13, 2013 / 12:40 pm

    You might have to check out my Book Boosters page. Bad reader or not, it’s clear you love books.

    Muchly enjoyed this post!


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