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What kind of a reader are you? 
Posted: 20 December 2016 02:15 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I don’t, thank goodness, have to earn my living by reading what I don’t like, so I take my hat off to the copy editors, students, teachers et al of this world who have to read books they may not otherwise choose to read.

My reading habits have changed.  From a “I started so I’ll finish” kind of reader, I’m now much less tolerant.  I stop reading when a book stops making me read, at whatever point that may be - the beginning, the middle or near the end.  I used to doggedly read cover to cover, just to say I’d read it, but that doesn’t happen any more, possibly because I read a huge range of books and I don’t like wasting my time.  Are most people like the new me or are most people more dogged (yes, from dog) readers?

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Posted: 20 December 2016 04:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I will put a book down if it really doesn’t interest me, but I tend to stick with it until well past the point that I realize I’m wasting my time. I made it all the way through The Da Vinci Code, but I’m not proud of that fact. I’ll sometimes abandon a book not because I don’t like it, but because I just don’t have time at the moment. In such cases, I tend to go back to it eventually. I usually have one or two such books sitting on my bed-side table at any given time. The one at the moment is The Grapes of Wrath, which I’ve been picking up and putting down for two years now.

I am, however, more likely to put a book down than abandon a movie or TV show. I’ll abandon a TV series if I realize after an episode or two that it’s not for me, but if I’m several seasons in, I’ll stick with it to the bitter end no matter how much I don’t enjoy it. HBO’s Big Love is a good example. I enjoyed the passive-aggressive interplay of the characters for a while, but was bored with it by the third season, but didn’t stop watching until I cancelled my cable subscription. I recently got HBO’s streaming service and went back and forced myself to finish it.

I’ve never walked out of a movie theater. I did really want to once, The Crow, 1994, but I was waiting for my car to be repaired, so I was kind of trapped. But I’m more willing to abandon a Netflix movie. I stopped watching Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby fairly early on, but probably would have stuck with it had I been in a theater. (I just don’t understand why they thought it was a good idea to substitute the screenwriter’s narration for Fitzgerald’s.) But I did make it through all three installments of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit as they got progressively worse, but it was my love for the book that sustained me. But I streamed the last one; I didn’t bother to go to the theater. Good decision on my part.

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Posted: 20 December 2016 06:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I’m like Dave when it comes to books—it’s hard for me to abandon one, though I do it more frequently now than when I was younger—but I can’t imagine taking his approach to movies and TV, especially the latter.  Life is too short to waste hours and hours of it on crappy shows!  (I haven’t watched new Simpsons shows in years, for example, though I worship the early seasons.) But then I hardly watch TV at all (except for the World Series, World Cup, and the usual BBC imports), because I need that time for omnivorous reading.

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Posted: 20 December 2016 06:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I haven’t watched new Simpsons shows in years, for example, though I worship the early seasons.

Non-serialized shows are easy for me to abandon, too. I haven’t watched The Simpsons in years, either. But that’s mainly due to not having cable. If I did, I’m sure I’d be DVRing it every week. (Maybe not, though, if it’s really gotten crappy.)

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Posted: 20 December 2016 07:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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A reading technique I’ve sometimes found useful, is to begin by reading the last 30 or 40 pages of a book first.  This way, I have saved myself thousands of pages of reading.  I gave up on detective novels, for instance, years ago.  And where books like The da Vinci Code are concerned, the technique works remarkably well, and has once or twice (I don’t care much for most best-sellers in the first place) saved me several hundred pages at one fell swoop. 
I find it goes against the grain, to walk out of the cinema in the middle of a movie that one’s actually paid to see. But there are alternative tactics; I remember my wife getting quite exasperated, when I fell fast sleep in the middle of Last Tango in Paris.

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Posted: 20 December 2016 08:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I read more non-fiction than I do fiction, nowadays.  Typically I am fairly selective, because life is short, so I vet the book before making the purchase. 

Books within my specialty of early baseball history I will likely buy so as to keep up with what people are saying, but even then I don’t promise to finish it, if it is utterly uninteresting or complete crap.  There are some truly spectacularly bad baseball history books out there.  Interestingly, the worst ones are by academics, often published by respected academic presses.  Amateurs crank out endless volumes of mediocrity, but it takes a professional to be craptastic.  Books outside my specialty I am actually more likely to finish, simply because I have a higher vetting standard for what is essentially recreational reading.  I am currently a book from a tip from languagehat:  “Through the eye of a Needle:  Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350-550 AD” by Peter Brown.  It is excellent, but not short. 

Fiction is another matter.  Almost all my fiction reading falls into the “light recreational reading” category.  If it turns out not to be recreational, why should I endure it?  I will make exceptions for usually reliable authors and occasionally for strong recommendations, because there are many excellent books that are a bit of a slog at first.  But I am far past the point of feeling any need to finish a book simply because I started it.  Working (and it was work indeed!) through all three volumes of the original Thomas Covenant trilogy as a teenager cured me of that.

On the other hand, I recently read, for the first time, “Elmer Gantry.” I did not classify it as light recreation reading, but as topical to today.  It was a bonus that I found myself enjoying it.

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Posted: 20 December 2016 08:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I’ve always read voraciously. At one time I’d have five or six books on the go, skipping from one to the other according to mood. Now, with the distractions of the internet, it’s just one or two. I also have a long-standing habit of reading as I walk, I’ve read many great books this way - the Roman and Greek historians, Rabelais, Montaigne, etc, which is why I liked the Everyman, World’s Classics, and Penguin editions so much, they’re portable. Heavier works I read at home as also light reading, sf, horror, novels, etc.

For certain reasons I’ve had much more time in my life to read than most people, as also to watch movies and TV when I feel like it, although I haven’t watched a TV in years, I get everything I want online.

Great question, Eliza.

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Posted: 20 December 2016 10:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I mostly read fiction, because I’m more interested in creative writing.  I also mostly read classics, but occasionally I will read a best seller or a detective/mystery for entertainment.

Philip Roth once said “If you read the novel in more than two weeks, you don’t read the novel really.” I tend to agree, especially when reading the classics. If one is reading The Brothers Karamazov and plods through it for a month or two, in between other lighter books, one tends to forget the characters, the names, and sometimes the plot. Let’s be honest, how many people anxiously rush home to read Joyce’s Ulysses or Mann’s The Magic Mountain, because they’re so enthralled with the story.

I read those kinds of novels because I enjoy and admire the genius of the writing and the effect of their indelibility. 

By the way, Roth also predicts that novels won’t be read twenty five years from now. He thinks “it’s the print” that’s the problem; the focus, the concentration is hard to come by. He says print couldn’t compete with the movie screen, and then the TV screen, and now the computer screen.

What say you?

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Posted: 20 December 2016 11:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Interesting question.  The dog ate my persistance recently.

I used to feel honor bound to slog through to the end of whatever I had begun to read.  No more.
I have taken an extended leave of absence from a Larry McMurtry tale, as well as works by two authors I generally admire, Arturo
Pérez-Reverte and Michael Chabon.  In the case of the former, the problem may be the translation, so I’ve bought the original
of La Carta Esférica and will try the final chapters in the author’s original.  Telegraph Hill by Chabon is a very nicely
crafted set of intercalated novels, but the constant shifts in pace were off-putting for this reader.

I will suffer badly written history and history of science books to the soporific end, if the subject matter is interesting.
Just read a history of the Beaufort Scale that qualified on both counts: fascinating topic and dreadful writing.

TV and movies are not a problem.  Don’t have the former, nor attend the latter.  Baseball is ok on the radio, live streamed on the interwebs.

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Posted: 20 December 2016 02:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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The dog ate my persistance recently.

What more can we expect from a pundit.

(Really sorry).

I’m with Lionello.  I always read the last few pages of a book first, then start at the beginning if the end’s good.  I can then relax into the book much more.  Mr D can’t understand that.  It upsets his finely tuned sense of logic and order.

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Posted: 20 December 2016 02:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I have great difficulty abandoning a book unfinished, although since I usually have a least a couple going, I may lay one aside for quite a while (I did that with Turn of the Screw several years ago; finally I put it back on the shelf, which counts as abandoning the attempt to read it, I suppose.)

Most of my reading is recreational, a clumpy mix of non-fiction and fiction.  Much of the latter is science fiction, as I’ve previously said, though every so often I take a fit to read “classics” (the “light popular fiction” of previous times).  For instance, I finished Hugo’s Notre-Dame de Paris, more usually (but less aptly) referred to in English as The Hunchback of Notre Dame (to be clear, I was reading an English translation that retained the original French title; I would not be capable of reading it in French).

I can give up on TV series pretty easily, even ones I like, just because I don’t have time (I stopped watching the new Poldark series, for instance, even though I enjoyed it.)

The only time I can recall walking out of a movie was The Rocky Horror Picture Show: I was young and relatively innocent and it was too decadent for me.  But that was at an sf convention and I hadn’t paid for a ticket.  Moreover, I steeled myself and came back and watched the second half the next night.

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Posted: 20 December 2016 04:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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There was a time in my life where I read about a book a week, and if it was good I’d immediately reread and then read again a few more times. These days I don’t feel I have time to do this, so I’ll just read a smidge of a book before sleep and it might take me a month or more to complete it.

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Posted: 21 December 2016 04:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I should add that a good chunk of my reading is professionally driven, so I don’t really have a choice. If I’m teaching a book in class, I have to read it. (Usually at least twice.) Fortunately, these tend to be good books. Even if a particular book isn’t my cup of tea, its other merits are such that reading it usually isn’t a chore. (Although I did once throw my copy of Pamela across the room in disgust.) The other category are academic monographs, which are all too often horrendous slogs. But these are also usually very amenable to skimming and using the index to find the sections that I really need to read.

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Posted: 22 December 2016 12:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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The only film I’ve ever walked out on was Lord Of The Rings.  I’ve given up the book on several attempts, too.  One man’s meat etc.

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Posted: 22 December 2016 04:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Tolkien is not a great writer. A highly imaginative storyteller, but not a particularly good writer. (If you think LOTR is bad, try reading his translation of Beowulf. It’s technically fine, but stylistically unreadable.)

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Posted: 22 December 2016 07:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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I mostly read for one of three reasons: entertainment, enlightenment, or technical.

Of those three categories I despise the technical, because there’s no getting out of it.  In other words, I’m reading out of necessity.  Fortunately there is not all that much of it.

When it comes to entertainment or enlightenment, like Eliza, I put it down when it stops grabbing me.  There are two books which I have started and stopped on numerous occasions throughout my life.  Each time I think, “Perhaps this time I will like it.” Nope.  The first is War and Peace.  I’m sorry.  I know that nearly everyone would disagree, but I think Tolstoy’s most famous novel is crap.  It is frustratingly boring.  I can never get past the first few chapters.  The second novel is Umberto Eco’s Baudolino.  The first half or so is quite interesting.  Then at some point it becomes so dull I just can’t bring myself to pick it up again.

I never thought I could enjoy doing that thing where one reads the end first.  My ex-wife used to do that, and I could never understand it, but judging from these responses, it is more common than I imagined.  Perhaps I should give it a try. :-)

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