The Pace of Reading

I’ve noticed a weird thing with the way I read lately – I always seem to speed up near the end of a book. It’s not that I’m skim-reading or rushing it and missing the detail, I just seem to be more enthused and more likely to keep reading the further along I go. I don’t know whether it’s being keener once I’m engaged in the content, or if I’ve got hooked on the satisfaction of putting a completed book away on the shelf. It’s kind of nice for the second half,  as I tear through books with a sense of glee, but the flip side is when I’m a little way in, not getting very far, and part of my brain checks out because it wants to cut straight to the final rush. It can make getting started on a new book feel more like work than it should.

Do you have any patterns like this to how you read? Are you a completionist who has to finish once they start something, a ten-books-at-a-time reader, or find your reading patterns shaped in some other odd way? Leave a comment, reassure me that I’m not the only one acting up.

Is It Weird That We Crave Novelty?

Oh TV, you're so comfortingly numbing. Pivture by Robert Couse-Baker via Flickr Creative Commons
Oh TV, you’re so comfortingly numbing.
Picture by Robert Couse-Baker via Flickr Creative Commons

Do you ever wonder if our craving for the novel, the thing that drives us to create and seek out new experiences, might be the most unnatural feeling a human can have?

Don’t get me wrong, I love new things. I love to read new books, hear new music, see new TV shows. I hardly ever re-watch films any more.

But when I was a kid I would watch the same films and shows over and over again. I’d re-read my favourite books. I’d listen to the same damn songs until it drove those around me nuts. Watch how any kid behaves and you’ll see endless repetition.

I’m the same when I’m suffering from depression. Instead of watching new, challenging TV and comics I’ll sink into something that’s repetitive and formulaic, preferably with characters I already know and love. I want sameness, because it’s comforting and easy.

Then look at the media most people consume. Most readers, given half a chance, will stick with the characters, authors and genres they know. It’s part of why there are so many long ongoing series – this is what sells. Sure, innovative work wins the prizes, but repetitive work, given just enough newness to sell it again, makes big bucks.

I love finding new things. I love that we, as humanity, are constantly innovating and adding to what’s out there.

But I should at least acknowledge that the readers I’m trying to reach, and parts of my own brain I’m trying to keep happy, mostly want the same story on loop seventy-three times.

Because that’s a huge part of being human too.

If you want the comfort of reading more of my words, combined with the novelty of a free book, you can get From a Foreign Shore, a collection of historical and alternate history stories, free all this week as an ebook from Amazon.

 

(Thanks to Charlotte Bond and David Tallerman for afternoon beers and an intriguing conversation that inspired this post.)