Firewater’s Reading Habits (a short questionnaire)

I brazenly “borrowed” this one from one of my friends. You can read Maddalena’s responses here.

I know you can read. But, only you know if you’re a Reader. We are a curious breed

photo by 2Photo Pots @

Do you have a certain place at home for reading?

The short answer is “No.” I read in our home office, but usually just off the computer. In the living room, I will read in my comfy, overstuffed recliner. I read in bed at night, usually after I should already be asleep. In the bathroom, of course. When the weather permits, I like to read in my back yard, sitting in my Steelers camp chair, with a cold beverage close at hand, while the sun makes the top of my head tingle.

Bookmark or a random piece of paper?

That’s how you can tell a Reader wrote these questions. A bookmark of some sort is necessary, because no Reader likes dogeared pages. Because loved ones know I’m a Reader, I’ve received many bookmarks as gifts. I have one that has a holographic dog on a flying carpet that I use a lot. But, I’m not too particular. I have one ragged paper bookmark from a great bookshop in Lynchburg, VA, that I’ve had since around 1993; this was Walt & Maggie’s Haunted Bookshop, before it moved and became The Bookshop on the Avenue. I’ve also used old Target gift cards that no longer have any money on them. Most commonly, I’ll fold a standard-size index card in half and use that.

Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter/a certain amount of pages?

It depends. If I’m reading in the bathroom, it can be as little as a single page or two (I read quickly). I like to read until the end of a chapter (perhaps more than one if the author likes short chapters, like Robert B. Parker did), but that’s not always possible. I tend to think in terms of scenes when reading fiction, and three scenes (whether in the same chapter or not) seems about right. But, in a pinch, I can stop anywhere and pick up where I left off later with little difficulty.

Do you eat or drink while reading?

I don’t tend to eat while reading, but I do drink. Coffee in the mornings (usually no more than three or four cups). Generally, Coke Zero, water or a Sparkling Ice (a flavored carbonated water that’s a current favorite) the rest of the day. If I’m reading in the sun, I’m usually drinking something fortified while I pretend that I’m lounging on the deck of a cruise ship.

Multitasking: Music or TV while reading?

If you knew me, you would have already heard my rant about multitasking. There’s no such animal. Compartmentalization is the true life-skill you want to brag about. Music is a passive activity for me, so I can listen to music while reading without problem. I try to listen to music that fits the reading material. Heavy metal for heroic fantasy, prog rock for science fiction, and so on. The TV can be on in the background while I read without distracting me, but I can’t actively watch it.

One book at a time, or several at once?

If I learned anything from my years in school (and I must have picked up a thing or two), it’s the ability to think in terms of different “subjects.” This is that compartmentalization thing I was talking about earlier. I always have several books in my rotation. At present, I’m reading six books, both fiction and nonfiction, as well as a couple of trade paperback collections of comic books. I have a notoriously short attention span, but do have the ability to achieve laser focus at times (especially when sufficiently caffeinated). I am a walking contradiction.

Reading at home or everywhere?

I can read anywhere. The best places to read, in my experience, are doctor’s waiting rooms or on airplanes. I’ve read entire novels while in airports or up in the air. There is nothing like abject fear to rocket me through a book. While I’ve flown more times than I can count, I’ve never liked it. Not one bit.

Reading out loud or silently in your head?

Are there people who actually read out loud? That sounds insane. I’ve read to the wee ones out loud, of course, but we really don’t have wee ones anymore. Unless you count Moxie, our chihuahua. She would listen to me read aloud, of course, because she is an attentive little dog, but the only words she would understand are “Go,” “Ride,” “Treat,” and “Bed.” No, Silly One, I read silently in my head. I don’t even think my lips move anymore.

Do you read ahead or even skip pages?

Not on purpose. If I’m reading an analog book (that’s one which is actually printed on paper with pages you can turn) instead of on my Kindle Fire, I sometimes compute in my head how much further I need to read to reach a certain percentage of completion, and I will flip through the pages to see where 25% or 50%, and so on, will be. For instance, I know I am over the 90% mark with Jeff Shaara’s excellent historical novel The Last Good Measure. It’s that numbers portion of my pathology that will never change. Sometimes, on accident, while I’m flipping through to find page numbers, I will spoil certain things for myself, which makes me angry. Since I somehow made it to the 21st Century, kicking and screaming, I do read a lot more digital content these days, and my eReader computes these percentages for me without my having to range ahead. I like this feature a lot, although I admit that I still prefer an old-fashioned “book.”

Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?

I try to treat my books with respect, of course, but I don’t go overboard. A well-loved book may be held together with Scotch tape and hope before it’s over. A library full of books whose spines have never been cracked is a library full of unread books.

Do you write in your books?

Not often, but I’m not against the practice, especially if I’m reading to learn rather than to be entertained.

So, there you go. Now you know a little more about my reading habits.

photo by Jilbert Ebrahimi @

2 thoughts on “Firewater’s Reading Habits (a short questionnaire)

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