January 20, 2010

A bookworm walks into a zoo......

Sound like the beginning of a really bad joke.  No offense to bookworms.  Or zoos, for that matter.

Lisa asked yesterday in the comments what the zoo is like in the dead of winter.  Personally,  I like going to the zoo throughout the year - to see the changing seasons and to see the animals react in different ways to the temperatures.  Besides, I buy my kids nice winter coats every year and I like to use them.  I am not opposed to bundling all of us up for outside romps.  Although, it was pretty cold yesterday and by the end of the visit, I asked my friend Susan if my nose was still attached to my face because I could no longer feel my nose.

One thing that Susan and I noticed first off during our visit is that the animals were really, really aware that we were THERE.  Many were coming to the window specifically to check us out.  The tigers were so active, we were a little skeeved and became cautious that they might spray us (sadly, an experience I had last year when I was at the Mirage in Vegas.)  Susan and I wondered if the animals become immune/disinterested in people after awhile when there are long parades of gawkers throughout the warmer weather.  Since we were virtually the only people at the zoo that day, we were guessing that the animals were not used to seeing actual, live humans besides the zookeepers.

Truthfully, it was nice to get bundled up, tromp through some slushy snow and simply enjoy fresh, non-recycled air.  Is it the best time of the year to go to the zoo? No.  Not really.  However, we have a membership (read: sunk cost) and heading to the zoo for a few hours makes for a nice outing.   It was also pleasant to have the zoo to ourselves and relax in the quiet.

Today, my brain has been sauteed in a spicy sauce of Mucinex D and therefore, in lieu of a proper segue........

Recently, I joined the Book Lushes online book club (started by the lovely Jonniker!)  Thus far, it is a fun spot to discuss books, reading and the like.  The first selection is The Help by Kathryn Stockett.  Last month, The Tongie Book Club mentioned this book and decided to read it for a future selection - I picked up a copy at Costco for all of 13 bucks and immediately began reading it.  Then, I saw Book Lushes had selected it as a selection as well.  And since I am all about lobbing stones at hapless birdies, I joined up with Book Lushes.  I am not sure how the actual discussion of the book will pan out, but I am enjoying the forum itself.  It is nice to hang out with like-minded gals in a drama-free environment. I highly recommend the forum and be sure to feel me up if you join.

The Help is incredibly engrossing, yet it is not full of shocking revelations.   Like most folks not living in caves or under rocks, I have already read or seen most of what is discussed in this book.  Racism in the 60s is a much-traveled topic, no?  However. The author does an incredible job of weaving a complex story without melodrama.  She has created  fully established characters and the author did an excellent job of not simply strutting out caricatures.  And I love seeing the same story from a variety of viewpoints.

Overall, I have been on a reading rampage this year - I was going to make an official resolution to read 50 books this year, but decided to simply make a resolution to make my reading worthwhile this year.  All too often, I get sucked into a Bad Read and then waste time Plodding through it simply because I like to know the ending.  This year?  I am officially a Skimmer.  If I am not caring for a book, then I will commence with The Skimming to just get it over with.  Sadly, this year it has already applied to The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, A Thousand Acres and The Memory of Running.  The Memory of Running was odd because it sort of had TWO stories.  One of which I ended up skimming and the other I read and LOVED.  Again, odd.

I find it nearly impossible actually Quit a book.  Over the years, I have read some compelling stuff that took me a good 150 pages to get into, so for me, it is incredibly easy to get all Brokeback Mountain over a book.  But I am determined to convert to Skimming.


Are you a Plodder, a Skimmer or a Quitter?  
If you are a Quitter, how do you know when to quit a book?

13 comments:

Melanie said...

totally a plodder, I cannot even remember the last time I didn't finish a book....even a bad one! I am all about junk reading though, I don't have many moments where i get to read, so when I do... I just want to be entertained. I will say teaching my son to read this past month has given me a renewed love of books, so far his reading is still very very much in the early sentences, but seeing him read a whole sentence....omg it just floors me!!! I hope he ends up loving to read, his daddy doesn't and I just cannot imagine that!

~ifer said...

A plodder for sure. I always hold out hope that the book is going to get better, and it has to be a truly atrocious book for me to put it down and walk away.
I also made some reading committments this year. To read at least 100 books, and also, to make some of those be the classics. I want to be a more well-read person at the end of it.
I just can't do things the easy way, can I?

The Hunter's Prize said...

I am a Quitter! If it's not catching my attention enough by 20 pages, then I put it down and forget about it. There are too many good books to waste time on something that's not even fun brain candy. I also check out armfuls of books from the library so I usually have something to fall back on. This helps with quitting!

Procrastamom said...

I've only quit one book and I can't even remember which one it was right now. I guess it was THAT memorable. I have a really hard time letting go of a boring book, especially if I have spent money on it and not borrowed it from the library. Glad to know that Edgar Sawtelle was not as engaging as Oprah would have us all believe. Maybe if I learn to be a Skimmer, I'll take it out of the library. Or maybe I'll leave it until I've read every other book...

Rayne of Terror said...

One thing lawyer training did for me was teach me to read extraorinarily fast. So if I'm reading something fun, I'm already skimming. If I'm bored and want to finish a book I either quit or read the first sentence of each paragraph and the dialogue. It depends on how far I'm into the book which I do. 50 pages or fewer, I quit.

Monkey McWearingChaps said...

I'm in Rayne's boat. I was a fast reader even before I went to law school but after 1L I mastered the art of reading every 5th word and still understanding enough about "what was going on" and picking up on the major issues. Pretty much the only way to pass the Bar in Cali. Unfortunately, this has created Reading ADD where I will feverishly read through books for plot and not stop to enjoy the language construction/craft as much as I used to. This is actually a big reason why I went back to reading classic literature-modern prose is too streamlined for me and I'll get through hundreds of pages in in a couple of hours, get the "gist" of it and move on. I need all those crazy long sentences and archaic language structure to keep myself from naturally skimming.

So for me? Skimmer, definitely. Also, I have a hard time quitting.

Cara said...

For fiction, I'm a plodder. I can't stand to not finish the book and I always eventually get to the end, even if I read another book in the middle of it. Reading Rayne's comment makes me think that my ability to read fast and with different levels of focus to what I'm reading probably has alot to do with this. (I, too, have the lawyer training.) Oddly enough, for nonfiction, I have no problem being a quitter or a skimmer depending on whether I'm finding the book at all interesting. I can't explain that.

Moderndayhermit said...

Up until about 1 year ago I used to be a skimmer, even when I was in elementary school. However I've resolved to do two things: A. stop reading books that aren't interesting me and B. read every word and digest what was written.

Jen said...

I used to be a non-quitter.

But then, I think I suddenly felt my age and I quit books right and left. Having a new job that's sucking up every single minute of my time and is on my mind even when I'm purposely trying not to think about it has made it worse. Now a book has to be really good to keep me from thinking about all the other things I should be doing. Life's too short to read a book I don't really like! (Or if life is really long, I'll catch the book when I'm old and infirm.)

I'm going to pick up The Help soon -- it was last month's book club book that I didn't get to in time for the book club, but it was universally liked, for the reasons you stated -- the characters, the writing, the new way of seeing the same things.

Chocolate Covered Susan said...

The zoo was really fun yesterday! It was so much fun to let little B out of the stroller to walk without worrying about him being in someone's way.

I never used to be a quitter, but I find that I do it out of necessity now that my reading time is so precious. Why waste time reading something I don't enjoy? It is also much easier to quit a library book than one I've purchased.

Olivia said...

I'm a plodder and junk reader like Melanie. I have read some crap books, even ones I got for free I just have to finish. Also, I'm not a fast reader. I'm always amazed when I hear of people reading a book like Harry Potter in a day or two.

Next time I end up with a crappy book I'll try Rayne of Terror's techniqe. At least the misery will be over sooner.

Meagan Francis said...

I used to be a skimmer because I was too reluctant to be a Quitter. So I'd stick with books I didn't like, skipping over important plot twists and the like because I just wanted it over with already.

I decided that for me it's healthier to be a Quitter. I can't really tell if I'm going to like a book unless I invest myself in it, but now I no longer feel obligated to read something that stinks just because I'm however many pages into it. Life is too short for bad literature!

Loved this line: "but decided to simply make a resolution to make my reading worthwhile this year." That is a resolution I can really get behind.

MLE said...

My favorite time to visit the zoo is when it's snowing outside. There's hardly anyone there, and lots of the animals are happy and excited to have cold and snow, and there's very little Screaming Children Noise. Sure, it's cold, but it's also kind of awesome.