Reading quirks are those little idiosyncrasies that we have which help us to get through a book. Whether they have been cultivated over the years like a fine wine, or dropped in our laps due to a negative or positive reading experience, we have them and they aren’t going away. They may not always be fair to the books, but they are ours.
I thought that it would be fun to poll the other Bookpushers about the reading peculiarities that bring us all together.
What are your reading quirks? Have they always been this way since you started reading, or have some quirks developed over time?
Meka: I have several quirks, some fun, and some just downright annoying. I am a notorious end reader and have been for a long time. If I become too worried about a character’s fate, I have no qualms about going to the end of a book and reading the last chapter. Sometimes I start just a few lines from the end and then work my way backward. I end up getting sucked in and often find myself backtracking until I’m in the middle of the story. I sometimes tell people that I have read the book when I can’t be bothered to read from front to back after having picked it apart on my backward trail to glory. Note, when I was reading hardcopy Braille books and Epub files that I can access on my computer, this process was a lot easier. It’s impossible with a kindle app, though! Spoilers, I needs them!
Unlike the rest of the Bookpushers, I am totally okay with not reading a series in order. I can pick up books eight or nine, and then backtrack. Of course, this doesn’t let me get to fangirl and anticipate the team in the next book, but this method works for me.
While I am on the topic of series, I cannot seem to read a complete series at all. I start off well, reading books one, two, three, maybe even four. But usually by book five, I’ve binged too much, or I’m too afraid of what is going to happen. I get anxious for the characters or I don’t want a certain plot line to end. What better way of dealing with that than to just stop? Mercy Thompson, The Psy-Changelings, the BDB, the Hearts of the South, the Mistborn trilogy, and a Sharon Shinn series are victims of my fickle nature.
E: The fastest way to get me to look at a book is to mention it has Dragons in it. I blame Anne McCaffrey’s The White Dragon, my introduction to reading Adult SF/F and I still love it to this day.
I have to read series in order. I blame my mother who bought me The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis for a birthday present when I was in 4th grade I think. The book store was back ordered on 3 and 4 so she gave me 1 and 2 then I had to wait to get the others to read until she was able to pick up 3 and 4.
While I can sometimes get around this with a review book, there have been a few instances involving my purchasing the previous books in the series so I could satisfy my OCD.
I am an end reader by choice. I miss paper books for that reason and while I know you can end read in a digital book it isn’t as easy or the same. I think I started this when I was reading a mystery and HAD to find who survived. I will still do this in bookstores if I am concerned about the ending of a coveted story.
MinnChica: I don’t know that I have any weird reading quirks, other than the fact that I have to read series books in order, and I refuse to skip around. Even if the books are almost completely independent from one another, I always worry that I’ll miss something if I don’t read in order.
Cass: When I get totally into a book, I just CAN’T WAIT TO SEE WHAT IS HAPPENING, and so I start skimming ahead. Just through the boring parts. Sex scene (yawn), exposition dump (yawn), flowery descriptions of scenery (yawn), in order to get to the good/important stuff that much faster.
After I finish I immediately go back and re-read the entire book from cover to cover, word by word.
Back in ye olden times, when I was a wee baby booklover, I didn’t skim to get to the end – I would just skip right to it. Read the first chapter, then the last chapter. Then possibly the second chapter and second to last chapter (in case I didn’t feel I had enough grasp of the plot), before I’d go back and read the entire thing through.
Until my mom caught me doing this and started threatening to defile my precious babies by removing the last two chapters of every book I brought into the house – and making me prove I’d read the rest of it before she’d give them back!!!! I believed she’d actually do it because she did it once (admittedly, with a beat up paperback she got at a garage sale. Stephen King’s The Stand if I recall correctly. To be honest she did me a favor, talk about a shitty ending.). That one time – plus the goddamn book reports some busybody twit alleged educator convinced her to demand the summer between 2nd and 3rd grade upon the assumption that I was just “pretending” to read so much – were enough to convince me the threat was verifiable and very real. (For the curious: that little adventure in mandatory book reports stopped as soon as I realized she wasn’t actually aware of the contents of the books I was reading, so I could write whatever the fuck I wanted to).
Anyways, this threat instilled enough fear in me that I stopped peeking at the end. (I also exclusively read library books for the next year. As a stopgap measure. Just in case.)
Joy: I won’t allow myself to end-read cuz it’s against “The Rules.” (I don’t know whose “Rules.”) If I do, on the rare occasion, peek at the ending, I feel like I cheated which makes me feel bad for the rest of the story.
I do get irritable if someone tries to interrupt me when I’m thoroughly engrossed, but not sure that counts as a quirk.
I have a really REALLY hard time starting a new book. Unless the book grabs me from page 1, I fidget for a good 20%, sometimes more, of the story. Exceptions for continuations of beloved series where I’m already invested in the characters and their world. But that doesn’t include new MC’s placed within a familiar setting.
Marlene: First quirk, and possibly the biggest, or most annoying to other people–I read at meals. (Lucky for me, my husband does, too) One of the things I enjoyed most about leaving my parents’ house for college is that I was finally allowed to read at the table. This is now decades in the past, and I still remember what a relief it was to be able to read at lunch and dinner. It drives me crazy not to be able to read a series from the very beginning. I hate the feeling that I’m missing something.
I also like to have LOTS of choices of what to read, which is why I request so many books from NetGalley and Edelweiss. Even when I have to read something for a review, I have this need to know that I have oodles of choices for a time when I can read whatever I feel like. The quirk I have that may give my husband the most fits is that when I read, I’m simply gone. I shut out the entire universe and I’m lost to everything around me.
Lou: One reading quirk that’s always been with me is sneak-peaking endings outside of the romance genre. I didn’t start out a HEA lover. I read some books where characters died (mostly Fantasy) and I kept on taking the chance on reading these books. But I was finding it depressing. I thought to myself why do I keep reading these books? How can I know there will be some sort of HEA? The ending of the Trudi Canavan’s Black Magician Trilogy wrecked me.
Then I thought to myself, why don’t I peak to the end of the book? It reminded me of when I was a kid when I sneakily looked at the answers at the end of puzzle books. It somehow felt wrong but also satisfying.
Once I made my decision to sneak-peak at the end of non-romance books, I haven’t looked back since.
Has: I have a confession to make: I am one of those readers who reads the last page of a book. I use to do this a lot (almost every book when I was younger) and I would always feel conflicted–but not guilty–about reading the ending. I would try to read a much anticipated book without reading the ending because I would love to be surprised. But for other books, I would succumb to temptation. But nowadays I tend to read the ending if I am unsure of a book, especially if I hear there’s something bad or it had mixed reviews over something I was wary of in the plot or with characters doing something that I may hate.
This is related with my other quirk. I do look out for spoilers, but recently, like reading the last page of books, I have not searched out spoilers as much for must reads although the exception is for books which I want to be pre-warned about something bad so that I can prepare for it. Another quirk that I use to have that I tended to read two books at the same time. I would alternate reading a couple of chapters and then switch books, unless it was really good then I would finish the book. Now the idea of reading two books at the same time is just wrong because I cant focus on following two books at the same time.
However, I have found that I do dnf books more often. I use to try to finish books in the past, even though I found that I was not enjoying the book as much as I would like. Now I don’t have any patience if I am bored or feeling meh. I do tend to finish books if I find myself getting pissed or angry with the characters or plot, just to see if it improves or not. I do find it interesting my old habits have changed over the years, and I suspect it will evolve again over time.
End of part one. Look out for part two tomorrow for more reading quirks!