At Book Riot, we read a lot. At Book Riot, we talk amongst ourselves about reading a lot. At Book Riot, we celebrate books and reading…a lot. You get the idea. To be perfectly honest, though, each of us engages in some secret bad behavior from time to time. You may identify with some of our most “toxic” book traits and bad reading habits.
As far as I’m concerned, I have two bad reading habits: I typically read about 100 books a year, though with the COVID-19 pandemic I’m at nearly double that number with more than a month to go before 2021. I also watch an absurd amount of TV and Netflix, especially with COVID brain. If I count all TV, including background watching while cooking, folding laundry, and other things that only require half my brain, I’d guess it’s at least 300 hours a year, most of it rewatches of series that just feel like cozy, soothing visits with old friends. If I cut that in half, even, I could add 20–30 books to my annual count.
My other bad habit? Even though I have approximately 23857082572 books at my disposal in print, on my Kindle, and on their sixth renewal from the library, I spend an hour or two (!) trying to decide what to read next every time I finish a book. There are just so many catalogs, book birthdays, friends’ reviews, and more to take into account! How do people just…pick up a book and start reading it without all that agonizing?
My colleagues have their own confessions to make:
I can never remember to be patient with NetGalley, so I always click to download 10–12 times and then they appear all at once, swoosh. I also do multiple library holds and ask for the same book from a PR person several times. Sometimes I’ll buy the book, request it as a library hold, and ask for a copy from PR, the author, the translator, and some random email I found on the publisher’s website. Just in case, I guess.
I have a personal rule that I must stress-download enough audiobooks to cover 2x the amount of time I will be on a flight. However, this stress-downloading can only (apparently) begin once I am on the plane and before takeoff. It adds to the stress of being on a plane overall, which is…part of the fun?
I’m starting to stress so much about my Goodreads book goals that it’s taking the joy out of reading, to the point where I probably won’t do it next year.
In the last few years I’ve been reading great books; I’ve become more active on bookish social media, and writing for Book Riot also means I end up with an unreasonable TBR, but I also get the best recommendations – and diverse ones – first hand. You’d think that, reading books to which I give away 5 stars so easily, the books would be imprinted on my mind with detail forever. Nope, not me. Basically, someone will mention one of the books I’ve read and loved, I will freak out with them about how much I LOVED that book, just to make a fool of myself when they ask things which, to be honest, aren’t even too specific, or buried too deep into the story. I swear I’ve read it, I claim. And, despite my forgetfulness, every time people say they believe me. Or, at least I think they do. I don’t really remember anymore.
BOOKS, I JUST CAN’T QUIT YOU. I know, I know, it’s ridiculous to keep reading a book you don’t like. Life’s too short! But once I start reading a book, I can’t quit until the end. What if it gets better halfway through? What if there’s some wild twist everyone will talk about? What if there’s one brilliant revelation that will change my life? While my TBR looms, you’ll still catch me sludging through a very “meh” book. But every once in a while, the ending is worth it.
I rarely finish series. Sometimes I don’t even make it past the first book. It’s funny, because I used to latch onto a series and glom the whole thing before even thinking about anything else. Original Vampire Chronicles? Didn’t breathe between them. Anita Blake? Read 20 books over winter break. Sookie Stackhouse? Didn’t stop until they did. (Okay, I realize those are all vampire series of decades before, but it’s been that long, y’all.) Now I read the first in a series, find out there are more, and maybe put the next one on the list to read. I might even buy it, wanting to immediately devour it after having read the first one. But no; it’ll just sit there for years, even decades, waiting for me to continue. There are, of course, some exceptions. But even in the case of some of my favorite authors, I’ll always have books of their to pick up, because I just never sat down to read the second and third books in that one post-apocalyptic romance trilogy. Or I keep walking by that final doorstopper in that witch/vampire contemporary/historical series, pretending there isn’t a signed hardcover waiting for me to just get it over with. It’s not that I don’t want to! But there are just…so many books.
I am a book finisher. This isn’t a problem if my brain is functioning and it’s a really great book, but if I end up stopping for any reason? Well, that means I can’t read any other book ever again. My sense of obligation to the original book is too strong to allow me to betray it. This causes a massive book pile-up (literally) because I still want to read more books, I just can’t. Which leads me to my second problem: book buying. The library is great and all, but have you ever felt the glorious satisfaction of opening up a shipment of books, caressing their covers, and smelling the paper? It’s the best and I never met a book I was interested in that I didn’t want to instantly buy and then neglect because THAT OTHER BOOK is still lying there unfinished, taunting me.
—Jen Zink, Book Riot Podcast Editor
I quit books for no good reason! Books I’m enjoying! Maybe because something else is about due back at the library and I want to hop over to that. Or I’m reading something in print, then packing for a trip (remember those?) and only want to take an ereader. When that happens, goodbye forever all print books, I guess? Most of the time, I can’t even find the reason. If I tell you I put a book down, that fact has no correlation to my opinion of the book. There are five star books on my shelves, ones I savored every word of, that inexplicably took me several attempts to read because of this toxic trait.
I read four books at a time usually—one fiction on audio, one fiction on paper, one nonfiction work-related, and one audiobook with my partner. In theory, that doesn’t sound bad. In reality, I consume the first two at 5x (or more) the rate of the other two. Even books by scholars I ADORE take most of a year. Right now, a signed copy of an incredible text by one of the most prolific education scholars of our time is GLARING at me from the spot it’s been moved to for the 20th time without being read. And the books with my partner? Ha! YEARS.