It’s really interesting how one’s reading habits can change over time. As a kid, I enjoyed unusual fairy tales and animal novels, and as a teenager, I read books with all the dragons. Then I discovered the joy of the library in college, and my TBR list has exploded ever since. But as time goes on, I notice the ways that my reading habits have changed from my days of stressing over finals and day-to-day assignments versus a commute to and from work.
For example, back when I was studying for my M.A. in English Lit, I read Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell in 10 days at 100 pages a day. Now you ask me to read a 1,000-page book in a week or so, and I’ll just laugh because that’s not going to happen, even though I have more free time.
Here are just a few of the ways my reading habits have changed since I’ve graduated, complete with whether I practice said habits during work or university or both!
Reading as a Distraction: Work or University?
Whether I’ve had a bad day at work or whether I was tired of doing some assignment, a good story could always serve as a way to escape. It’s especially nice when I find a book that doesn’t feel like a book—one that’s just another story that engulfs you, leaving you wondering what world you’re in when you turn the last page. Stories like Salt to the Sea, Eliza and Her Monsters, and Kids Like Us.
Reading as a Reward: Work or University?
Yes, reading still has its rewards, sure. But I don’t read for the same purpose. When I was particularly struggling to get through one assignment or another, I would study for 45 minutes, then read a chapter. Just one. Then I’d repeat the process until I’d finished my assignments and then my book. That’s how I first read The Alliance series during midterms and later how I got through Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell so quickly.
Reading as a Time Filler: Work or University?
During my studies, I didn’t really have any time to kill. It was just me and homework and more homework and balancing my jobs and writing for fun and maybe somehow fitting a meal somewhere in there.
I was texting one of my friends the other day, and she was telling me about all the shows she’s catching up on, and I realized I’d seen zero of them. If I think about it too hard, the idea of all of the shows I don’t watch can make me anxious. (I’m in the middle of Ninjago, Legend of Kora, and NCIS. I don’t need recommendations.) I’m just not a big movie/show person, okay? But mention novels, and I’m ready to pile all the books onto my TBR list. They’re also nice because I can take them to work with me and read them while I’m on break.
Reading as Research: Work or University?
Though I’m still doing research, I don’t always approach it in the same ways. At university, I would check out stacks of books in addition to my source material, gathering all my research before I started writing. Now when I’m doing research for a story, I’ll do some preliminary research, then write my rough draft, then delve into the deeper research before draft two.
Reading Classics: Work or University?
Truth be told, I read far more classics during school than did when I graduated. If anything, as soon as I finished my Master’s dissertation, I devoured YA and graphic novels for the next year. Now, I make reading classics part of my yearly goal because if I didn’t, I’m afraid I won’t read them. And I want to. It’s just that working up the motivation to do something I voluntarily forced myself to do for so long may have burnt me out on the idea of reading certain books. That and there’s this weird assumption that reading classics is somehow only suitable for stuffy settings and intellectual mindsets, which it’s not.
Listening to Audiobooks: Work or University?
I had friends who listened to audiobooks instead of reading assigned books for class, but I just couldn’t get into it. When it comes to retaining stories, I’ll remember them more if I can see the words on the page. But once I started working, when I was forced to drive to work instead of bike, I found listening to audiobooks made the drive enjoyable. (I did not listen to audiobooks while biking because that’s not safe.) Now, I have a 30-minute commute, not as long as biking 45 minutes one way, but I like listening to podcasts or novels on the way.
Particular audiobooks I’ve enjoyed so far: Stardust by Neil Gaiman, narrated by the author; Fawkes by Nadine Brandes, narrated by Oliver J. Hembrough; and Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan, narrated by Ari Fliakos.
The one podcast I got hooked on: Wolf 359 by Kinda Evil Genius Productions. I’m open to more recommendations.
Yearly Goals: Work or University?
My junior year of my undergrad, I managed to read 38 out of my goal of 30 books. My senior year/start of my Master’s degree, I read 52. The year after I finished my Master’s I read 109 out of 100. The next year, I stopped setting number goals and moved to types of books instead. It took a year of trial and error for me to set realistic goals and meet them again, but I figured it out.
Let’s chat! How have your reading habits changed over time, if at all? Have your motivations for reading changed? Goals for reading? Anybody have any epic sci-fi/fantasy podcast recommendations? Bonus points if it’s funny.
Literary references: Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell; Ruta Sepetys’ Salt to the Sea; Francesca Zappia’s Eliza and Her Monsters; Hilary Reyl’s Kids Like Us; L. Nicodemus Lyons’ The Alliance series; Neil Gaiman’s Stardust, narrated by the author; Nadine Brandes’ Fawkes, narrated by Oliver J. Hembrough; and Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, narrated by Ari Fliakos
Show references: Ninjago, Legend of Kora, and NCIS
Podcast references: Kinda Evil Genius Productions’ Wolf 359