the walking writer

Buying a Kindle a few years ago was one of the best purchases I’ve made in recent years. I was a big reader when I was a child, but as I aged, I stopped reading books that weren’t required for my high school or college classes. My excuses for abandoning my previous reading habits are weak, but that’s what happened. Everything changed when I picked up my Kindle and discovered my local library’s huge collection of ebooks.

Since then, I’ve read books at a pretty good pace. Unfortunately, this year I didn’t do as well. I can’t even bring myself to check my reading lists and total up how many books I read. I blame my lack of reading on an endless sea of distractions, including wasting time reading pointless stuff online. Now that I’ve recognized the problem, however, I think I can get back on track. Here is my master plan for reading more books:

1. Make a Habit of Reading at Least 15 Minutes a Day

Sometimes, the hardest part of getting back into a reading habit is just picking up the book (or Kindle) to begin with. Once I actually start reading a bit every single day, I think I’ll find it easier to keep up the habit. I started doing this two days ago, and so far it has worked.

Oh, reading stuff on Reddit definitely does not count for this.

2. Don’t Agonize Over Finding a Book to Read

This is something that I definitely struggled with this year. My library has so many ebooks available that it makes it hard to choose. Sometimes I felt like I spent more time reading about books than actually reading the books themselves. You can read reviews for hours on end, but sometimes you just have to take a chance and try a book. Sometimes picking a book at random may end with good results. I think it’s also important to maintain a policy of not finishing a book if it’s particularly bad. There’s no reason to spend hours on something that you hate.

3. Keep the Kindle Charged

All too often I would let my Kindle’s battery die, so when I actually did want to read something, I couldn’t. I could use the Kindle program on my computer, but I prefer the Kindle’s screen for reading books.

Since I’m not really a New Year’s resolutions person, I’m just going to adopt this plan now and hope for a month full of good books.

I never really feel comfortable writing an entire review for a book that I didn’t finish. I’m sure a few that I quit may have had some redeeming element in the end, but I just couldn’t stand to read them long enough to find out. So instead of dedicated reviews, here’s a few books that I tried to read recently but just couldn’t finish. I don’t make it a habit to give up on books, but I also refuse to waste my time on a novel that I’m suffering to read.

1. “The Casual Vacancy”
Like many other Harry Potter fans, I really wanted to read whatever J.K. Rowling wrote next. I eagerly read the reviews after the book’s release and was pretty disappointed. No, the harsh language and very adult story lines didn’t trouble me. To me, the book just sounded like one depressing story with nothing to enjoy, not even bits of dark humor or one character who isn’t completely horrible. So, I didn’t bother to pick the book up until it was available at my local library as an e-book. I tried to read it, I really did. I think I made it through about half the book before I gave up. Due to the fact that the book was written by Rowling, I think plenty of people wanted to like the book and kept reading with the hope that it would improve. We all know that life just sucks sometimes and things aren’t always happy, so we certainly don’t expect every book we read to be full of rainbows and unicorns. Unfortunately, this book had absolutely nothing positive to offer, not even the slightest hint of hope to leave you with a shadow of a smile.

2. “The Night Circus”
“The Night Circus” is a wildly popular book and is set to become a film. Due to the positive press about this book, I picked it up eagerly. While the book does have pretty language and an interesting premise, I felt that nothing really happened in the book. I kept waiting for something to happen and was disappointed. Frustrated, I checked some reviews online to see if the book ever really picks up. The answer I found resulted in me returning the book without finishing it.

3. Serena (P.S.)”
Reading a few reviews of this novel probably would have stopped me from ever picking this book up. Although this book has been out for a number of years, it has surged in popularity due to the upcoming release of a movie version. After reading about the film, I thought the book sounded like a good idea. However, the dreadful cruelty that occurs in the first pages of the book pushed me to check out some reviews before I continued. Once I learned there was still plenty of more cruelty to come, with some of it directed at animals, I decided to abandon the book.

4. “Cat on the Edge”
This book started out with some intriguing elements. Basically, it’s a mystery novel starring a talking cat who has the intelligence of a human. Yeah, once you get past that, you might think you’re ready for anything the book might throw at you. However, I think I started losing interest when the main cat called his owner to let him know he was fine. It was just a little too weird for me.

5. “Divergent”
“Divergent” is another insanely popular young adult novel that is set to become a movie. The book features a pretty boring world that is split into five factions representing various human characteristics. That particular aspect borrowed a little too much from “Harry Potter” for my tastes. Supposedly, these factions are responsible for peace in the world, though it’s never really explained how this works. The main character of the book, Beatrice, is a pretty unlikeable character who only gets more annoying when she leaves her family behind to join the “cool” faction.

It’s never fun to put down a book after already investing some time (and potentially money) in it. Fortunately, there’s always something even better to read out there.

After reading positive reviews of Fangirl, I eagerly looked for it on my library’s website, hoping for a Kindle version.  However, I was disappointed to see that they only had the book in audiobook format.  I decided that it would be a good opportunity to finally try an audiobook out, so I checked it out anyway.

Well, I think I know quite clearly  now that I am not an audiobook person, for a few reasons:

  • There is no way to skim.  I detest giving up on books (unless they’re really bad), so skimming is my best friend during mediocre book.
  • When listening to a book, I feel a need to do something at the same time.  I found that only a few activities were suited to audiobooks, including mindlessly playing World of Warcraft.
  • The choice of narrator can really make or break an audiobook.  I was not a fan of the narrator for Fangirl.  Her way of doing male voices just seemed off to me.
  • Narrators can also affect the story in subtle ways.  For example, a narrator may choose to emphasize certain words in a character’s dialogue when that wasn’t the author’s intention.
  • With an audiobook, you’re glued to technology.  If you don’t have a smartphone or a compatible MP3 player, you’re stuck listening to the book at your computer.

However, I do see the positive value of audiobooks in some cases.  If you commute long distances or take long walks, an audiobook is a great way to break up the monotony.


So, I’m currently struggling through the audiobook version of Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell.  I’ll save my issues with the book for a later post; at the moment, I’m still hoping it improves.  But I just finished a part where Cath, the main character, turns in a piece of fanfiction she wrote to an upper level writing course.  Her teacher rightfully gives her assignment a failing grade.  Cath then has the audacity to argue with her teacher about she’s only “borrowing” the characters.

When I was in college, I spent plenty of time reading fanfiction.  I may have even written a piece here or there.  But I never would have imagined turning in a piece of fanfiction to a college professor.  Yikes.  I really am trying to like this book, but the main character just annoys me.

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