#BlogJune 3 – Reading!

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YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.

Confession time: I don’t read as much as I should.

I don’t mean that in a stereotypical librarian “woe is me, I only read 5 books a day, if only I had time to read 6!” kind of way. I really mean it. All you librarians out there know that boring question people ask you when you find out you’re a librarian: “oh, so do you like BOOKS?” And I do like them, in theory, but I am often presumed to be a savant of all classical, modern and contemporary literature based on the fact that I’m a professional information worker. It’s very flattering, but I can’t live up to that expectation.

I aim to read 20 books a year. I made this target 3 years ago. I have achieved it never. I came “close” in 2014 with a measly 15 books. But ever since I went back to uni last year (while working), my reading for leisure has gone down to pretty much zero.

To my immense shame, I’ve only read one book so far this year (this is a deep confession guys). It was Kenneth Cook’s Wake in Fright. It was awesome. I came across it after reading some article in a magazine in the lunch room calling Kenneth Cook a master of “Australian gothic”, and thought – hey, that’s a genre I can get behind. So I searched my library’s OverDrive collection and found this novel. Apparently the movie adaption is even more influential than the book, being regarded as one of the best and most important Australian films ever. Shame on me for not knowing that, I guess. It’s a thoroughly engaging and harrowing tale, and a pretty scathing critique on Australia’s alcohol and gambling culture, as well as the hidden menacing side of “mateship”. After reading it on the train into work, one of my colleagues said to me, “Hannah, are you ok? I thought you looked sad when you arrived.” It didn’t click until later, but I probably looked disturbed from reading the book. That’s how good it is.

So if anyone’s got any recommendations, please tell me. Maybe I can read the remaining 19 to fill my target before the end of the year… there’s still time…

Reading phone books

Fun fact: the primary way I read books is on my phone. Of the last 20 books I’ve read, 2 have been paperbacks, and the rest on my phone. That’s 90%.

I read all the A Song of Ice and Fire novels this way. That’s over 1.5 million words, read on a small glowing screen. Some might say that is a travesty. I thought it was highly convenient.

Here are my reasons for preferring smartphone compatible e-books over ‘real’ books.

Easier to hold
I’m so lazy, I feel inconvenienced by the need to hold a book open with my hands. It’s no good for reclining on my side or standing up on the train. Whereas a phone you can hold and click through the pages with one hand. I usually don’t even hold it; I just prop it up somewhere and occasionally press the edge of the screen to go to the next page.

Harder to damage
There is extreme danger associated with lugging a book around in the same bag as my water bottle. I have soaked too many books and other important paper-based documents that way.
I used to keep books on the same bedside table as my night time glass of water, which would inevitably get knocked over and spill all over the books frequently. When I was a kid I destroyed one of my brother’s beloved Deltora Quest books that I was borrowing from him. I still feel a bit guilty about that. One time I got on a train on a rainy day holding an umbrella and accidentally got a huge water droplet on someone’s book while they were just sitting there trying to read it. The guilt!
Plus most of my own books are wavy with water damage.
Spilling water on my phone isn’t ideal either, but it doesn’t seem to happen.

Instant access
When I finished A Clash of Kings on the train I immediately downloaded A Storm of Swords there and then and kept reading like a ravenous fiend. The idea of waiting until I can next physically attend a library before I can borrow a book is, thankfully, a thing of the past for me.

I’ve always got it
Smartphones have become an all-purpose device, and e-book reader seems like an appropriate addition to the list of functions we use them for everyday. No additional expensive hardware, no complicated and over-involved download process. Nothing extra to put in your bag. Just an app on your smartphone or tablet. I read more because of it.