Monday, March 3, 2008

On perfect reading conditions

At the present moment I have three books on the go – one I’ve read before (and, ironically, am making best progress on), one I’m reading in ebook format on my phone (but only when travelling on public transport) and one that has been loaned to me by a friend (for before lights out).

I’m not making very good progress on any of them, which is more that I need time and mental space in order to read well. Right now I have very limited time, and even less mental energy.

When I’m in a reading zone I can snatch 5 mins here and there with no problem and make excellent progress on a novel – even on a first read. BUT I need to already be hooked on the book and desperate to find out what happens next (you know, where you steal extra time before turning out the light because you need to read just one chapter more). I also need to be able to dedicate a fair amount of mental energy to the book – a tiny part of my brain to keep the story ticking over, if you will.

While I’m GETTING hooked, I need to dedicate larger chunks of time. I’m a nervous traveller – when I’m going on holidays or away on business I obsessively research the hotel, where it’s located, what is around it, how I’m getting there from the airport and so on. I’m a bit like that with a novel, too. Using the travel scenario, I need 20 mins with a map and google before I’ll make the booking. From time to time I fall instantly in love but usually we have to date a bit first before I’m willing to invest. ;)

So what are my magic reading ticky boxes? 30 mins reading time at a stretch to get sucked in and enough energy to make an emotional commitment. If I have the space and time to invest, then I’m MUCH more likely to have a magical reading experience.

BTW, for the record I don’t think either my ebook or the loaner were ever “Magic” material, but at least half of my apathy is my own fault, rather than about anything the writer has done (or hasn’t done)!

The main reason I’m getting some traction with my re-read is because it’s one of my warm fuzzy comfort reads. It’s a novel I’ve read many times before and the characters are old friends - I can dip in and out because the writing is superb (and quickly engages me), and I know the story and the characters so well that it’s not in the least bit taxing.

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