The Changing Habits Of A Reader

…And How He Has To Cope With Them

I always find it very interesting (or inutterably embarrassing) to look back at my habits and the things I do after the fact. People don’t seem to realise just how much they can change in a short period of time – but of course, life is constant change. Everything one does, everything one experiences, affects ones self. A personality may have the basic elements remaining underneath (the hard-wired leanings of ones mental habits), but every experience changes us in some way. In a year, or three, we can become almost unrecognisable in the way we think or act.
That’s why it’s so interesting to think about who you were then. To see what you were once like and from that learn how you might be now.1

Two and a half years ago I joined Kevin’s Watch, an online community of fans of Stephen R Donaldson’s work. I have since visited the site almost every day to participate in the various discussions there – everything from Why did Thomas Covenant do that? to Why do people feel a need for religion in their lives?. Over time I participated less and less often in the discussions of Stephen Donaldson’s books and more in the other forums there – other authors, societal/religous/scientific issues, entertainment and media – and I also began to read again. The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (and the Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant) had been the first real books I’d read in years, though I had been a voracious reader as a child. After TCoTC, I read little more than Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, until I finally started listening to recommendations form the KW members. That’s where this all started – the reading list, my enormous to-read pile, my participation in a small number of other boards. I started out with the Wheel of Time, A Song of Ice and Fire, and the Sword of Truth, and moved on from there, through King, Williams, Erikson, and so on, but I feel I’ve only really started to reach the good stuff, the newer writers and the old classics, the top names in the genre today – which makes it all the more overwhelming when I find myself being drawn into a whole new area of this community faster than I can keep up with the writing it revolves around. FantasyBookSpot.com, a site I found through links at KW, is where it started – a site of book review and interviews, news from the industry and links to all kinds of discussions going on. I found myself with much longer lists of books that must be read (heh), and all sorts of places to visit and keep up on the very interesting things being talked about.
Most recently I’ve spent hours reading through all the different articles (and the hundreds of comments on the articles) on such subjects as the “Venom Cock” thing2 and the definitions of ‘science fiction’ and ‘fantasy’.3 I find myself reading all these big discussions going on, with all these knowledgable people chiming in, and I just feel out of place. I don’t know enough to add anything to the discussions, and though I find it all interesting to see what these authors think, there are so many I’ve never heard of, never mind read their books, that I feel that I’ll have no idea what these people are really getting at until I’ve seen what kind of work they put out.
It all just leaves me feeling that I’ve not read enough, and no matter how much I read, there’s always so much more that I should read. Some – Hal Duncan, Jeff VanderMeer – I’m just getting to, others – Nick Mamatas comes to mind – I’ve not even had a chance to think about. It just sometimes seems a little too much to keep up with.

  1. I must say, this post so far is all sort of beside the point – the rest of this post doesn’t really concern itself much with the whole looking-back thing.
  2. A little too big to link to everything here, shouldn’t be too difficult to find yourself if you want to know more
  3. Reading all these things adds another side to the problem – I find myself spending so much time reading these discussions that I seem not to have time for the things I usually do.
Advertisements

3 thoughts on “The Changing Habits Of A Reader

  1. “It all just leaves me feeling that I’ve not read enough, and no matter how much I read, there’s always so much more that I should read.”

    LOL Murrin, I bet all, or most, of us feel that way too a lot of the time. Don’t let it get you down, just keep going, one by one. ;)

    And as for knowledge, only we know how ignorant we are. I don’t know about the other places, (’cause I’ve barely got time for the Watch as it is), but everything is valid, or can be. Sharing opinions is the only worth of any of this. :D

    –A

  2. Murrin, ever since Danlo and Mhoram recruited me to Kevin’s Watch, my TBR pile just keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger. It’s to the point now where it would be easier to measure in the number of yards of height rather than number of individual books. Sometimes I feel as though I am beginning to drown in unread books. A lot of them are volumes people give to me, so I do not even have complete control over how big the pile gets!

    My last words will probably be something like “NO! I can’t die yet! I still have to read Bakker and Erikson!”

    But I figure I am doing OK, no matter how hopelessly behind I get on working through my TBR pile, as long as I am still enjoying reading — and as long as there is balance in my life — ie room for work and family and basic housekeeping tasks such as washing underwear. ;)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s