Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I HEART YA #3: Work Zone, No Reading Allowed

Suze Reese writes:  "Neither of us can stop reading when we get our hands on a good book, even for things like food, water, exercise, sleep, work or school... I'm fine nibbling when the book doesn't really pull me in. But if it does, it's time to say goodbye to any real-life activities. Of course, there's no way to tell what the story will do to you until it does it.

So what about you? Are you a nibbler or a devourer? Or does it depend? And what's the worse thing you've blown off for the sake of a book?"

You are totally preaching to the choir here!  I've been jealous of my mother for a long time because she can read right before bed and put herself to sleep with it.  If I try to read before bed, I end up finishing the book.  The first time I noticed it happening was with Ender's Game in college.  I picked it up, just going to give it a shot, around 10 or so, and then suddenly it was 3 am and I was finishing it.  Afterwards, of course, I was still wired.

I really do appreciate the fact that I'm a fast reader.  If I'm into a book, I can speed through it, gulping each page in hardly any time at all.  If it's a book I've read before, but adore, I can reach speeds of 30s per page (I am not a speed-reader or any of that sort of thing).  But I am also someone who likes to have my lights out around 11:30.  If I don't get enough sleep I can be cranky and non-functional, so this is a real danger for me.

For a while I assumed fanfiction could be a solution.  It was usually shorter than a book, and often predictable enough that I could tell myself to stop and actually stop.

Unsurprisingly, this failed utterly.  One night I had started reading a fic, knowing that it was a series, but assuming that the series was finite.  I read and I read.  When was I going to get to a stopping place?  I wondered, but there were so many balls still up in the air, so I plunged onward.  I plunged and plunged until, to my surprise, I heard birds chirping outside my window.  Morning had come.

It was only a month or so later when I was reading Fingersmith.  It was a bit after 3 when I hit the middle, and the unbelievable twist.  But I had learned from my mistake.  Shocked and frantic to read on, I put my bookmark in, closed the book, and went to sleep.

I can't say I never slipped up again, because oh yes, I have.  But the only all-nighter I pulled in college had nothing to do with schoolwork.  I sometimes wish that i could pace myself, and come back to a story again and again.  But to some extent I'm glad that I devour books and that they excite me enough to keep me awake.  Having a bout of insomnia a few weeks ago, I said, no, I'm not going to get angry at myself for this.  I can't sleep, but if I don't sleep I won't be able to write tomorrow, and I'll have wasted so much time.  So i turned the light on, and got out the Doomsday Book.  I was halfway through the 600pp tome, and plunged on.  At 3:45 I finished it, and was asleep by 4.  (Yes, the next day was shot, but I felt accomplished.  I had finished that book, and it was awesome.)


  1. Love it! 30ssp sounds pretty fast to me! I think I must test myself. I'm sure you've got me beat. I've done the insomnia read too - makes for an odd feeling the next day. So much accomplished, so much wasted. Ah well, beats staring at the ceiling!

  2. Wow! 30s! I can't read that fast. But I do sometimes find my eyes moving faster than my brain can read... it's like they have a mind of their own and are so excited to read the story they can't wait for my brain to catch up!

  3. Oh I've been there! Once you reach that gasp moment it's hard to resist plunging on. I'm impressed by how fast you read also, and can't help but wonder how quickly you'd make it through my book... once it gets published, of course.