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Ritual

Musing Mondays2

This week’s musing asks:

What do you do with the book before you start reading it?

It seems the most trivial question but I’m so glad somebody brings this up. To begin a new book is a ritual for me. I usually skim through the blurb to get a feel for the story because I’m usually off a slow start. I cannot really explain, but let me put it this way: Beginning a new book is like arriving a new country on vacation. I feel displaced and lost, wanting to take it everything and gain my bearing. Skimming the blurb and author’s biography helps. Sometimes the writing style can be more challenging to become inured to. Virginia Woolf, Toni Morrison, and William Faulkner take a while getting used to. For each book I slip a couple pieces of scrap papers into the pages for notes. The reading notes contain my thoughts and comments, as well as page references and dates. These notes will be used for writing the review after I finish the book.

I started Barbara Pym’s Excellent Women this morning. The picture is a sample of what my reading notes look like. I’m indebted to JoAnn at Lakside Musing who sent me the copy. She and I share unbelievably similar reading taste.

5 Responses

  1. I’m the same; it always takes me a while to get used to the author’s writing style when starting a new book. I love the way you describe it as landing in a new country and trying to get your bearing! I suspect this is also part of the reason I don’t like reading multiple books at one time; it’s so hard to switch back and forth between the different styles/voices!

    • Yes I hardly read more than one book at a time unless it’s an ongoing non-fiction, which I read a chapter or two at the time. I have to focus on the author’s style to ensure a sense of coherence. That is why I’m so picky with vacation books. I want to be sure that I’ll at least enjoy them and not to worry about shopping for other books while I’m away from home.

  2. You are so thorough Matthew! I love the idea of inserting notepaper here and there in the book all ready for your comments. I generally scribble in the book itself (I’m a very carnal reader). When I was a kid, I used to cover a new book with a newspaper when I began to read it, so that it would stay all virginal, but I don’t do that anymore, because it feels so platonic and prudish.
    My only ritual now is to fluff my beanbag, and pour myself a huge mug of tea or a glass of wine, depending on the time of day.

    • I used to scribble on the margin until I just run out of room. I use a scrap of paper instead and keep the page references. It’s easier for me that way to write a review after I finish the book.

      As for my reading routine, I read over coffee for about 2 hours in the morning. I’m an early bird and I can get lots of reading done at that time of the day, before I’m burdened with work.

  3. You’ve summed up how I feel when starting a new book perfectly Matt.

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