Very Bad Reading Habits: Kindle edition

Back in May I made a confession about my very bad reading habits. Not wanting to toot my own horn, but it remains my one of my most read blog posts. Now that I have recently become the owner of a kindle, I have entered a whole new reading experience. I thought it might be interesting* to repost my original blog post and update it for the e-reader. My kindle touch observations are below in blue (*It is entirely possible that I might be the only one interested in this.)


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); and
    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!

Kindle POV: I am doing this less with my kindle – if at all. The reason being that I still don’t know how to work it properly and the couple of times I have tried to look ahead, I ended up losing my place and having to flick through the electronic pages trying to remember where I was. Skipping is so much quicker with a real book!

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.

Kindle POV: Maybe it’s the novelty of downloading an electronic book but so far I haven’t abandoned any of my e-books (though I cheated my way through Jane Eyre Laid Bare by skipping ahead –  just to get the book over and done with). I don’t think there is the same amount of guilt associated with abandoning an e-book. Perhaps because it is but a line on a menu screen, unlike the big chunky book that sits beside your bed, staring you in the face.

Also, e-books are mostly cheaper so it’s a bit easier to abandon. But if you decide not to read it, you can’t re-gift it, pass it on to a friend or give it to charity. And that is a great shame.

I’m a devourer: I read books like I eat cake – too quickly 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.

Kindle POV: kindle is making me more a devourer than ever. Maybe because I like smacking the screen with a finger to turn the page. A quick scan read – next page. Hmm … don’t think this is a good thing. Could it be that my ownership of an e-reader is making me an even worse reader? Perhaps a prolific reader but that’s no good if I can’t remember the plot of the book I just read.

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.

Kindle POV: kindle was made for the mass-market reader. Just look at how cheap all the ‘paperback’ e-books are on Amazon. Yes, I am trying to read snobbish books but I don’t want to spend over a certain amount for e-books as I think I might as well buy the physical book for that price. And is it just me or are the ‘literary’ books super expensive as e-books?

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!

Kindle POV: Hee..hee… well the kindle is perfect for a non-sharer like me because you can’t share. But I’ve gotten better with my sharing since writing my original post so it is a bit sad not to be able to pass a story on.

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).

Kindle POV: It’s so easy to have multiple books on the go with kindle – and to carry them all around at the same time. Geez, I really do have terrible reading habits. Not to mention sounding like a walking advertisement for Amazon.

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.

Kindle POV: An e-reader is great for jumping immediately on a reading trend. I can download a book in less than a minute. But it doesn’t always work that way. I recently saw a book in the bookstore that I really wanted to read. I went online to Amazon only to discover that the e-book version wasn’t going to be available until next year. But I wanted it now! So I bought the book. When I want to read something, I will read whatever edition I can get my hands on.

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

Kindle POV: Can’t do that on this device but I am managing to smear all sorts of things on the touch screen. Still, that is not as bad as dog-earring a book.

Conclusion: It seems that my kindle may be giving me a whole new set of bad reading habits. But it doesn’t seem to matter as much when you are using an electronic device. I feel much worse mistreating and disrespecting a physical book.