I don’t have a smart phone, so I seem to be missing out on this “game-ification” trend that lets people earn points for eating in restaurants and walking up stairs. But I don’t like it. Last night when I made a reservation on Open Table for dinner, I was told that I would earn 100 points when I completed my meal. Why? What can I do with said points? Will the points be more delicious than my dinner? What if I only complete half my meal and take the rest home? Or leave it there? Where are these points kept?
Lest you think me a curmudgeon (I am, actually, when it comes to smartphones and points), I keep track of other things. I wrote about how I use a spreadsheet (religiously) to keep track of my submissions and pitches to magazines and journals. I used to keep a Word doc where I wrote down all the writing and writing-related tasks I did every day. (I should probably start it up again–I got a lot done when I knew I had to write down something every day.)
But I have never kept track of the books that I’ve read. I read a lot. Over the weekend, I usually read a book. At night, I usually work slowly through a book (I usually conk out after a few pages). Roughly, I’d say I read a forty books a year. Maybe more, maybe less; sometimes I go for a couple of weeks without reading, sometimes I consume book after book after book.
Regardless, I do not keep track of these books anywhere. Not in my bookshelf (though I try to put the ones I should read on the top shelf), not on Goodreads, not here. I’ve tried to rate the books I’ve read on Goodreads. I’ve tried posting a list of the books and articles and stories here on my blog. But keeping track of what I’ve read isn’t fun or satisfying to me. Reading a good book is a lovely experience; I don’t necessarily want to quantify it with stars.
There are also plenty of books that I don’t finish, and I don’t really care about those. I do have a rule that has so far proven itself: if I get to page 60 of a book without checking the page number, I’m going to finish it. If not, there’s a pretty small chance. It’s a fun game to play.
All the books that I read, finished and unfinished, inform my writing and change my perspective in all kinds of ways. I talk about these things with Andrew sometimes, or I write about them on The Female Gaze Review, or I just muse on them myself. You don’t have to share every important experience with the Internet or even your friends. You can just enjoy it.
I prefer to think of my curmudgeonliness on this issue as preserving a bit of mystique that surrounds reading. Going into another world, real or imagined, is pretty cool. I’ve often felt a little funny following other avid readers on Tumblr; everyone seems to prefer reading to any other activity, to glorify the magic of every great book. But reading is just part of the fabric of my life. It’s just something that I like to do that’s good to do.
However, I’ve realized that I ask (nay, beg) readers to leave me reviews for my own books on Amazon, and they are gracious and kind enough to reply. And I’ve felt bad about this exchange, because until now I have not been a reviewer. I’m overwhelmed by the task; what about all the books I’ve already read that I haven’t reviewed yet? So I’m starting a new experiment. Every month, I’m going to read a self-published Kindle book on Amazon (Andrew got me a Kindle for Christmas–what a cool guy!) and review it. Reviews create visibility for indie authors like me, and it’s high time I shared the indie publishing love with some of my fellow writers. Reviews (on blogs and on Amazon) are the reason I sell any books at all, frankly. They are great.
The first book I’m going to review is It’s Witchcraft: A beginner’s guide to secular and non-secular witchcraft by Jamie Weaver. Very much looking forward to it! I even made a cool button for it, using a neat photo from Phil Roeder.
Cheers to good books!