Bookish Idiosyncracies

It will come as no surprise to anyone that I’m particular about things: the way I like things to be organized and the order in which I want things done. Through my many years as a reader, I’ve changed my methods somewhat to fit my lifestyle at the time, but they’re always a bit weird. Today, I want to highlight some of my weird reader-ly behaviors and talk about them with you. I’m also going to put polls in here to find out more about you guys!

Organizing Bookshelves

The way that a reader organizes their shelves says a lot about them. There are several really popular methods, and I’ve definitely seen votes about this on Twitter. I’m a classic bookshelf-organizer: alphabetical by author’s last name. Internally to the author, they’re organized by title of book or, if part of a series, by the series title, so those books stay together.

There’s one exception, which is that I broke out my non-fiction, short story collections, and plays to a separate shelf, due to space concerns of my shelving. I may re-integrate one day.

Series and Companion Novels

One thing I’m very particular about that even other bookish people side-eye me for is how particular I am about series order and companion order. Most people don’t really care about companions and think they can be read separately or in any order really, but I hate to do that, personally. On very rare occasions I have jumped around a series, usually by accident, but it makes me feel twitchy.

Ideally, I read everything in order. Of course, order can vary, as there can be a stark difference between narrative order and publication order, as exhibited by The Chronicles of Narnia. If there’s a definitive narrative order, I will follow that. If not, I will read the books in publication order, something which can burn me out with authors who have huge complicated worlds covered in tons of novels, like Anne McCaffrey or Terry Pratchett.

Recently, I completed my read through of all of Sarah Dessen’s novels. I’d read three of them years ago, but then I learned from Gaby that most (maybe all, but certainly all but the first couple if not all) of them are actually companions. At least by my definition, which means that characters from the other novels make cameos. They’re very subtle, often to the degree that, had I not read most of them in a row, I wouldn’t have recognized it was a cameo (sort of like the one in Landline I completely failed to notice). By that token, I totally get that they could be read as standalones and it would not hurt anyone’s enjoyment, but I also never would have noticed those details had I not read them in publication order.

My staunch determination to read in order can actually cause me real problems. If I want to read book five in a romance series, where they’re all companions essentially, I have to get through books one through four, even if they’re terrible. If I DNF any of those books, I will not read book five. This also means that I will suffer through books in the middle of a series of companions that I don’t like because I want to keep the series going. I know it’s illogical but at the same time my brain very much finds the other option illogical too.

Bookmarks

Over the years, I’ve developed a really strange bookmark habit. I’ve collected hundreds of bookmarks from various events over the years, and I now have a stack of them about four inches high. I rotate through the stack, grabbing the top five on the stack and picking the one that best matches the book in question. I told you it was strange.

Thus far, I’ve basically kept all bookmarks, except duplicates unless I really loved the book mark, but I’ve started thinking about culling out the ones for books that I don’t like. This is a big deal for me. >.>

When I was younger, I had a dog-ear phase and a phase where I eschewed actual bookmarks in favor of random objects I found lying around and a phase where I’d just leave my book upside down at the page I was on. Two of three of these now hurt my soul, but I did it.

Reading Spot

Most of my reading happens on my couch, because it’s big and cozy, and I like to switch between reading and television. However, I do read in bed a bit in the morning or in the evening before bed. Very rarely I’ll read on the floor.

I’m not too particular about reading locations, but I’m mostly not good at reading outside or in public. Having people around is distracting, and my introvert self just keeps wondering when I can leave. Sometimes I get the idea of going to read at a cafe, but I always end up leaving within an hour.

Picking What to Read

Another way I’m very weird is that I hate picking what to read. I get moody if I give myself too much control, so I use a random number generator to pick my reads. I’ve been doing this for several years, always picking a few books ahead of my reading, which allows me to set my expectations and time to acquire the book from the library if need be.

Multiple Books vs. Single Books

This year, I actually had the goal of going back to reading just one print book at a time, but I very rapidly gave that up. It doesn’t work for me anymore, especially given how stubbornly I will push myself through books I don’t like much in some circumstances (see series above). By having multiple titles to switch between, I am able to keep my interest in reading up, but obviously it does split your focus, and I know it wouldn’t be feasible if I didn’t read so much or so quickly.

At any given time, I’m reading from three to 8 books, though admittedly 8 is a bit much and I try to avoid that. I think 4-6 is the sweet spot, with one of them being an audiobook. Sometimes people ask me how I can keep the books straight when I’m constantly swapping between them, and I’m not really sure, considering I can’t remember a book a month later. But it works for me somehow.

I know I’m forgetting any number of odd bookish habits, but I suppose I can always do another one of these if you guys enjoyed this. Please do feel free to share your own habits with me!

10 responses to “Bookish Idiosyncracies”

  1. Michelle Roberts says:

    I have so many idiosyncrasies about books, and I am very weird so here we go. I shelve loosely by genre first and then by author’s last name. I keep series in pub order (except Anne and Narnia, which are both stupid and in series order), but unless it’s Robin Hobb’s or Richelle Mead’s series of series I don’t mind which series comes first.

    I have a multi-tab spreadsheet to keep track of what I’m reading next; and although I do try to keep up on new releases I want to read I don’t really deviate from the backlist order I’ve set. I am usually reading 3 books at once: one novel, one audio novel, and a nonfiction. Because I have different kinds of bookmarks, I rotate between small/metal ones, homemade shepherd’s crook ones, and regular ones (most homemade, tbh). Paper ones get thrown away when they bend because creases make me crazy.

    We may both be kind of nuts about systems, but at least we’re not alone. 😉

    • Christina Franke says:

      Genre’s a respectable way to organize, though I’ve never gone that route. The thought of splitting up an author who writes in multiple genres stresses me out, as do the books that are kinda sci fi but also kinda fantasy. I’d spend so long doing it and then not remember where I put stuff.

      Heeeeeyyyy kindred spirit. I also have a multi-tab spreadsheet to track what I’m reading next. It’s scaled down to just three tabs, though I used to have about five. I treat backlist and frontlist a bit differently. Often I discover an author when they’re already a few books in, so, if I love the book, I plan to go back for those in pub order, but I might keep up with new publications too. That depends a bit on accessibility of review copies too. Awesome that you also read multiple books at once. I really love having both audio and print going.

      Your bookmark collection sounds really awesome. I do have a homemade shepherd’s crook one somewhere, but it didn’t fit in my pile, so I need to just display it.

      Always good to not be alone in the weirdness. All of your systems make perfect sense to me. 😉

      • Michelle Roberts says:

        😀 I’m trying not to think about what I’ll do when I eventually collect all of V.E. Schwab’s.

  2. I do a lot of mood reading but my issue is, what happens when you’re not in the mood for anything? Then I find myself in a slump and I feel like if I had a more effective system (not mood reading) then I wouldn’t find myself in a slump as often as I do.

    I just recently purchased a notebook in an attempt to try to keep myself more organized with both reading and blog stuff. Electronic organization only helps so much so I felt like if I had written stuff down (review notes, accepted review books) then it might hold more weight. We’ll see. 🙂
    Bonnie @ For the Love of Words recently posted…Audiobook Sync: Week 9 Titles | Doctor Cerberus & Openly Straight (June 21 – 27)My Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      That’s absolutely the kind of mood reader I am. That’s why I try to plan out my schedule in advance, because I’m just sort of telling myself I’d better get in the damn mood lol.

      My lists are all electronic, which does mean I scrub them and start over occasionally, but I hope the notebook helps you! I do love making physical lists, but since I can’t easily have them with me all the time, I’ve gone to using GoogleDocs pretty exclusively for list purposes.

  3. Heather says:

    For bookmarks, I chose the “random objects” option, as I often use tickets from an event or something, but I also use good old paper bookmarks that I get at work.

    I also chose “other” for picking what I read next because I don’t really use a system, but my choices are made intuitively. Whenever I’m reading something, I’ll often get a feeling about the book I want to read next, so I’ll grab it from my shelf or get it from work. Interestingly, these books often have some kind of thread that weaves them together, like a similar character or a time period or something, and the weird part is, I don’t even do it on purpose; it just happens! So yeah, super odd. For the first time that I can remember, I don’t have my next print book in mind, so I’m just reading The Outsider by Stephen King on my Kindle. I think it’s because I have no idea what I’m in the mood for because it’s Summer Reading and I’m tired and I just want to look at trees. haha. I’m leaning towards a Harry Potter reread because it’s warm and cozy, like a big old blanket 🙂

    • Christina Franke says:

      It should not surprise me that you’re intuitive about what to read next, given the accuracy of the tarot readings and feelings you get. Though I don’t do that, I do sometimes have that same experience with the way things weave together thematically like they’re commenting on my life or the world at large. Kind of the way sometimes when you have your music on shuffle, a song comes on with the lyrics you needed to hear at that moment.

      Nori’s mid-HP reread. You should totally do that!

  4. Joann Downie says:

    This was a terrific post, I enjoyed doing the polls. I use bookmarks I got from the library and keep my swag seperate!!

  5. lenore says:

    One of my greatest joys was helping you cull your bookshelves! And then how you tried to return the favor and I refused to let go of my bad books hahahahaha.
    lenore recently posted…2017 in Review – MusicMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      You totally did. Though probably being friends with like every single person in publishing makes things more difficult.

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