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Sunday Salon: Reading Quirks

January 8, 2012


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Do y’all have any unusual reading habits? Here’s one of mine: when I begin a book, I flip to the last page. Not to read the ending, in fact I studiously avoid looking at any of the words, but to see how long the book is. Then I divide that number into even ‘chunks’ that are somewhere between 50 and 60 pages each so that I know how many pages I should be reading in each session (and how many sessions the book will last). I am especially thrilled if the chapter breaks correlate to my number. If they’re not exact but close, I’ll follow chapter breaks instead, otherwise I just look for a handy pause when I’ve hit that number. It’s not something I force myself to do, I just really enjoy numbers, so it’s my way of settling into a new book.

Does anyone else do this? If not, do you have any other reading quirks?

Only two one-sentence reviews this week! I’m right at the edge of finishing another couple of books, but I didn’t want to rush things for the sake of my blog. And I’ve already written up posts on three (one hasn’t been published yet), so there you have it!

Books I Would Have Loved, Except for One or Two Little Quibbles or Books I Really, Really Liked

Read Marriage: a History by Stephanie Coontz if…you’re curious about how the institution of marriage has been viewed by society throughout history, especially in the US & UK or you read a lot of older books and want to feel more informed when it comes to all of the marriage plots or you just enjoy learning quirky historical facts.

Read Cart and Cwidder by Diana Wynne Jones if…you enjoy fantasy books with resourceful child protagonists or you’re a DWJ fan working through her back list or you’re looking for a good read-a-loud book for your own children or students that you’ll like as well.

P.S. My new year of reading has started out wonderfully! Not a bad book yet. :) I hope yours is going as well!

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38 Comments leave one →
  1. January 8, 2012 12:35 pm

    I do very nearly the same thing when I start a book! I like having a sense of how much time a book will take. When I get to the end of the first “chunk,” I usually have a good idea of how quickly or slowly a book is going to “read” for me.

    Another quirk I have is that I like to store my bookmark at about the halfway point of the book as I’m reading, which also helps me gauge where I am. (If it’s a long ribbon bookmark, I keep it there all the time.) When I pass the halfway mark, I move the bookmark to the point that’s halfway between where I am and the end. I used to think this was completely bizarre until I was sitting next to someone on a airplane a couple of years ago who did the exact same thing!

  2. Heidenkind permalink
    January 8, 2012 12:44 pm

    I do the same thing! I like to break the spine of the book every 50 pages, too, I don’t know why.

  3. January 8, 2012 12:50 pm

    I do turn to the back of the book to see how many pages it has before I start, but I don’t divide it into chunks. I don’t know how quirky it is, but I hate having to stop reading in the middle of chapter, and if I have to stop in the middle of a chapter, I at least have to stop at the beginning of the first full paragraph on the new (left hand) page. Otherwise, I get all discombobulated. Also I find that as soon as I flip over a page, my hand is already on the next page to flip, toying with it like I always can’t wait to turn the next page even if I have 2 pages still to read!

  4. January 8, 2012 12:51 pm

    I think that is very interesting. I do know that I when I’ve had a book that I was “supposed” to read (book club or whatnot) and it wasn’t grabbing me, I divide it into 25 or 50 page chunks and read it that way. Sometimes I would hit a sweet spot and take off beyond the “daily chunk”. LOL

    As to looking at the end of the book, I’ll confess something. I sometimes read the ending. I know. Horrible, huh? My husband thinks that it is so, so wrong. But, especially with mysteries, I like to see the process as I read. I don’t usually do this right away or at the beginning, but sometimes when I get a glimmer of who the bad guy (or gal) is. OK, now you guys can tell me how awful this is. It’s OK. I can take it! :-)

  5. January 8, 2012 12:56 pm

    I always check to see how many pages a book is so I can figure out how long it will take me to read.

  6. January 8, 2012 1:05 pm

    I’m kind of a chunk reader, but in another way. I can only rarely justify reading for more than a few minutes at a time because of school and family responsibilities, but I can’t NOT read, so whenever I finish a chunk of my to-do list, I allow myself to read to a certain point. I have it down to an art — more than five pages but less than ten, preferable to read to a stopping point, but if it gets to ten I need to stop, etc.

  7. January 8, 2012 1:38 pm

    I also jump to the end of the book to see page count. It is one of the things I don’t enjoy about some ebooks. They tell you how long the chapter is and not how long the actual book is.

    Glad your reading year is off to a good start!

  8. January 8, 2012 2:03 pm

    I do the identical thing re the number of pages! I don’t get the chance very often to read 50 or 60 pages. More like ten.

  9. January 8, 2012 2:09 pm

    I do often check the last page to know how long the book is before I start reading it. I don’t divide the pages into chunks, though.

  10. January 8, 2012 2:23 pm

    I do the same thing. I want to know how many pages it is. Although once I was fooled. Jane Eyre was broken into 2 parts and both halves were separately numbered. It took me forever to realize that it was not a 200 page book!
    I liked Marriage: A History as well.

  11. January 8, 2012 2:40 pm

    I thought I was the only one who did that … it’s so nice to see I’m not alone! I always want to know how long a book is, and I always strive to read 50 pages per day although that’s not always possible. And like you, I like to stop at chapter breaks if it works out.

  12. January 8, 2012 2:50 pm

    A mad, funny thread. I also turn to the back to see the number of pages, I like to put my bookmark at the half way point. I read short stories collections chronologically, though I alway go back to the index to count how many stories I have left to read. I do the same with book chapters.

  13. January 8, 2012 2:55 pm

    I do look to see how long the book is and well, occasionally it is kind of like when I was a kid and watching a scary movie, fingers in front of my face, sneaking peeks. Sometimes I want to see if a favorite character has survived!

  14. January 8, 2012 3:00 pm

    I do it too! I don’t split the book into “chunks” or foresee any sort of reading schedule, but I HAVE to know how long a book is before I start it.

    Marriage: a History is on my wishlist :)

  15. brolee permalink
    January 8, 2012 3:13 pm

    I’m amazed at how many people do this because I was certain I was the only one! I decide what day I want to be finished by and then break the book into daily chunks to meet that goal (generally 50-70 pages a day). I often reader quicker than that, but it gives me something to strive towards.

  16. January 8, 2012 4:57 pm

    I think I have a weird quirk; in particular when I’m listening to audiobooks. I sometimes (unconsiously) act out what a character is doing. Like, a character flicks their hand, or waves, or opens their mouth a certain way – something – I will do it. I catch myself doing it all. the. time.

    I think it’s so weird, but what’s a girl to do? lol

  17. January 8, 2012 4:59 pm

    It would drive me crazy to do that with my books! I’m fascinated! I have the quirk of, you know, reading the end; but I think that’s common enough that it’s not a quirk, it’s like, an alternate lifestyle.

  18. January 8, 2012 5:12 pm

    I used to do that with school books! I don’t know that I really have any reading quirks. None that I can think of. Hmmm, I will have to pay attention next time I’m reading and see what I do. ;)

  19. January 8, 2012 5:30 pm

    I commit the ultimate sin of flipping forward and reading the ending, but only when I reach a certain point of emotional involvement. It’s like I can’t bear to wait to find out what happens to the characters! I know it’s super weird to lots of people, but I just can’t help it.

  20. January 8, 2012 5:45 pm

    Hehe. Great thread! I do “measure” my books when, as someone else mentioned, it’s a “should” read that I’m struggling with for one reason or another, or simply feeling pressed by time because it’s a book for discussion with others, but not all the time. It’s interesting to see that it’s not too uncommon though!

    I’m not sure if you’ve already touched on them on an earlier date, but I’m wondering if you’ve checked out Elizabeth Abbott’s trilogy of non-fiction on celibacy, marriage and mistresses; it might make for interesting companion reading for the book you mentioned above. (I’m not asking a direct question because I know you have to limit your typing, and this means you won’t have to reply!)

  21. January 8, 2012 6:43 pm

    Wow. I’m amazed at how many people do the same thing as you! I, sadly, am not one of them. I couldn’t even fathom a guess at the last time I even read 50 pages in a sitting. :( I count myself lucky if I manage 5. I know it’s really not an ideal to way read–I almost feel like I’m being unfair to the author and the book, but I don’t have a lot of choice. Someday though. Someday.

    And hooray for good reading starts in 2012!!! I think my start has been pretty good, too…quality-wise, not quantity-wise.

  22. January 8, 2012 9:41 pm

    I don’t always check the page numbers, but if there are photos or illustrations I always look at them all first. Even if it’s just little chapter header decorations. This doesn’t apply to picture books or graphic novels, of course.

  23. January 8, 2012 11:16 pm

    Haha…I used to do the same thing with my books :p I don’t divide into sections anymore but I STILL see how many pages are in the book so I know how much I have left :p

  24. January 9, 2012 2:28 am

    No reading quirks here. I don’t do anything like what you mentioned. I just read until I have to stop or I feel like stopping. Other quirks? Nope. I just read!

  25. January 9, 2012 5:00 am

    I HAVE to know how many pages are left in a book when I’m reading it. I don’t divide into sections in quite the way you do, but I do divide into 60s, working on the theory that I read a page a minute, so I know how many hours it will take me to read it…

  26. January 9, 2012 8:22 am

    I always check the page number when I flip the page. I’m not sure what I’m checking for- is it to be sure that it doesn’t skip a page? but I always do it. I rarely check to see how many pages the entire book has though.

  27. January 9, 2012 8:47 am

    I do the same thing! I divide my reading into roughly 50pg chunks (100pg for YA). Otherwise no one would get dinner or attention or anything. I’d just read!

  28. January 9, 2012 9:31 am

    I also check to see how long a book is and divide it into chunks. It’s one of the only things I don’t like about my Kindle–i can’t tell how far I’ve gone or need to go. I know it has that percentage-read bar, but it just seems meaningless to me!

  29. January 9, 2012 10:32 am

    I actually do the opposite ! I don’t like to know how long a book is, because I feel like I become too number-oriented then and sometimes push myself and rush through a book rather than reading it leisurely and just enjoying it at my own pace. To me, I want my reading to be about the story, not the number of pages it takes to tell, so I try to never look at the last page of a book until I’ve reached it by reading all the others that came before it.

    One weird quirk I have is that if I’ve bought a book that has a price sticker affixed to it, I never remove the sticker until I’ve read the book. Only then can I peel it off and discard it… I guess it’s not until I’ve read a book that I feel it’s truly mine!

  30. January 9, 2012 1:05 pm

    I do the same thing! Well, before flipping to the last page to see the number of pages, I read everything: the back cover, the inner jackets (for books who have them -love the little snippets about the author and plot) but never the preface. I never read a preface but love the dedications page, even if it’s only something like ‘For Sarah’.

  31. Ruthiella permalink
    January 9, 2012 1:08 pm

    Yes, absolutely. before beginning a book I look at the back and see how many pages it is and I try to read in 50 page chunks or by chapter, depending upon the chapter’s length, one or two chapters per reading session. I also monitor my progress as I go…only 400 pages to go, only 200 pages to go etc. Often, however, I will stop reading when I only have say the last 10 pages left and let the book sit for a while.

  32. January 9, 2012 2:07 pm

    I check the back of the book often to see how much I have left. :) I like seeing my book in chunks!

    I often follow chapters or volumes if the book has them. I can never stop in the middle of the chapter-I have to read to the end of a chapter before stopping. This is why I prefer books with shorter chapters (10-15 pages?). Long chapters drive me batty (the John Galt chapter in Atlas Shrugged made me go a bit stabby).

    Thanks for the recommendation on the Coontz title! I will definitely have to find a copy (my library doesn’t have it).

  33. January 9, 2012 2:24 pm

    I used to be able to stop anywhere in a book but my husband is OBSESSED with stopping only on chapter breaks and now it’s rubbing of on me. I have to get to a convenient place before stopping now…

  34. January 9, 2012 8:32 pm

    This is so funny, especially how many people do that too! When I stop reading a book for the day, etc. I do try to make my stopping point an end of a chapter. I don’t think that’s so unusual. However, I guess my one reading quirk is that I do like to have a bookmark that matches or goes with my book. I don’t always do this but I love it when feel like I find the perfect bookmark for a book. What a book geek ;)

  35. January 10, 2012 7:38 pm

    I check the page count only to figure out the half-way point of the book. That’s an important milestone for me because for some reason, no matter how long the first half of a book takes me to read, the second half never takes more than a day or two. I guess it’s just the level of involvement in the story or whatever but I always look forward to that half-way page, knowing that it will all speed along from there! The weirder part is that I get annoyed when a book has an odd number of pages because then it doesn’t divide nicely into two. Should I round up or down? I never know.

  36. January 11, 2012 3:21 pm

    My only real reading quirk is that I seem to have to finish a book once I’ve started it, even if I am not enjoying it. I have the darndest time abandoning a book!

  37. January 21, 2012 10:34 am

    I tend to read the last page first many times!. …but I do read the words because I like to see where huge bulky novels are going. Interesting, I realize I’m not doing that as much since now I have my nook…hmmm something to ponder.

  38. January 31, 2012 9:48 am

    I always check the last page to see how long it is but then try to read in chapters. So, as I think we’ve discussed before :), I often have various bookmarks at the next chapter marks.

Thank you for commenting! For a long while, my health precluded me replying to everyone. Yet I missed the conversation, so I'm now making an effort to reply again. It might take a few days though, and there will be times when I simply can't. Regardless, I always read and value what you say.

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