May 28, 2012

Continued Adventures in Reading

Sorry for the lack of posts. I have yet to get in the habit of regular blogging. Damn my leg!

To date I’ve read Treasure Island, A Princess of Mars, Warlord of Mars, The Gods of Mars, The Hobbit, The First Men in the Moon, Hunger Games, and Ender’s Game. Not bad for someone who went so long without reading a single book.

During the reading of these books I’ve noticed several things about myself:

  • It takes a lot of effort to get myself to begin another book. I want to read something fun, but I’m finding it challenging to identify a book that I may enjoy without having a plot line or idea spoiled by a recommendation. The less I know the more surprised I will be and the more I’ll enjoy the book.
  • I prefer to see movies based on books before I read the book. Most would disagree with me here, but those who know me know that I don’t watch movies I’ve already seen. When watching movies I tune everything out around me and get fully immersed into the story. When I know what is going on, I am critiquing the film, distracted, and generally bored.
  •  Given the previous two points I would have thought it would be difficult for me to read a book that I already knew the story of. But when I read the Hobbit and The Hunger Games after seeing the movie versions, I found that it was fun to see how the author originally presented the story and how Hollywood decided to present it in film. For me these books were still exciting and fun to read.
  • I’m clearly drawn to adventure books.
  • Reading inspires me to be creative and at the same time depresses me. Movies can do this to me as well, but on a much smaller level because they generally last several hours and by the next day I’ve forgotten about it. Books on the other hand last weeks, so I find myself having more time thinking about the story and the parallels with my life and current events.

I’ll go into greater detail on some of these points in separate posts.

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March 30, 2012

Picking My First Read

… the continued adventures of The Year I Started to Read Books.

So after my long hiatus from reading, I needed to find something to read. What to choose? Do I go with something current, classic, or unknown?  Given I have read so little my options were practically endless. Imagine walking into a bookstore and not having read a single book found in the store. Where do you start?

Being really cheap and not totally sure that I would be able to read on my Android phone, I began browsing the free ebook selection. Next I needed to decide what type of book. I already knew I wanted to read fiction, but did I want a story that took place in space? Some far away fantasy world? Vampires, ninjas, pirates? I didn’t know.

While all of the books are virtually unknown to me, I have heard friends talk about some of them, and I’ve seen many film adaptations. Note: There will be a future post about my first experience with having a beloved book get converted to a movie. While film adaptations are not the same as the book, I felt that I needed to find a story I knew nothing about and had no preconceived notions of. This quickly started to limit my options.

In reality the selection process didn’t take that long. It’s only in hindsight that I fully understand what drew me to choose Treasure Island. I knew it had pirates, a character named Long John Silver, and did I mention pirates? So this was the perfect book–a fresh story to re-energize my mind.

Next: I will discuss what it was like to read a book after my long hiatus, along with a really short review.

 

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March 18, 2012

The Year I Started to Read Books

I can’t claim that I’ve never read a single book, because I have. My earliest memories of reading are from elementary school when I read loads of Scholastic Book Club books. I remember being excited when the book catalog would come out, and I would go through and select a dozen or so books to purchase. I would create reading forts and spend hours upon hours in there reading things like Ralph and the Motorcycle, Encyclopedia Brown, Bunnicula, Wayside Stories from Wayside School, and The Finches Fabulous Furnace.

Book It!The prime motivation for reading during this time was Book IT! This is an awesome program which rewards reading with vouchers for a personal pan pizza at Pizza Hut. As a kid the idea of getting my own personal pizza, which today at my age is ridiculously small, was awesome–especially given my dad’s cooking.

Amiga 1000Then one day I discovered a magical device called the Amiga. Why read when I could be playing games, hundreds of games! Needless to say computers and video game consoles kept me busy for many years and got me out of the habit of reading.

Eventually I had to read books again. There was the required reading one has to do when in school. Titles like Call of the Wild, Where the Red Fern Grows, and To Kill a Mockingbird. Then there were the book reports where one gets to choose the book they want to read but is then forced to write about it. While many of these books I was forced to read were good, I wasn’t immersed in the story because I was focused on how to answer the homework questions. I suddenly found reading to be a punishment.

Fast forward to today: I’m 32, and as of a few months ago I could only recall maybe 10 books that I had read during my lifetime. Ninety percent of these were kids’ books, of which I have fond memories, particularly Roald Dahl. I have tried to read books many times over the years, but I have found the process very frustrating. I find holding books uncomfortable; I have a hard time tracking the lines with big blocks of text; and I am easily distracted, or I can read several pages without actually processing what I just read. So basically no matter how interesting the story is–the process of reading was frustrating and required too much work. So I just didn’t read.

Then I discovered a new magical device. App really. The Kindle App for my Android Phone. I don’t remember what motivated me to install this app and use it to try to read, but what most people dislike about reading on their phone turns out to be what makes it the perfect invention for me. It’s comfortable to hold, and the screen doesn’t display a lot of text, breaking up what traditionally is a huge block of text into a bite size readable chunk that I find much easier to process. Suddenly, the technology that lured me away from reading was luring me back.

In the past three months I have somehow managed to read 5 books. Crazy sauce! Going forward I will blog about my reading experiences as an adult suddenly discovering the joy of reading. The free personal size pizzas are gone, but there are 30 years of good reads to catch up with.

Up next my first read: It’s a classic.

 

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