& the slipper still fits

My rules for reading

I've finally done it dear reader. I gave in, gave up, got going.

The last 3 months I've have The Hunger Games sitting in my pile of "to reads". I'll admit, in the last year, its become a rather big pile (classics and current authors alike). Books and me, well, we've been on a little hiatus in general. So that last thing I that I thought would renew my love affair with fiction was The Hunger Games. And then on Saturday, on a complete impulse, I just started reading.

And didn't stop. At 2AM Sunday morning, I was done, and could already feel the itch of the bookstore calling. It didn't matter WHAT was in that pile of "to reads", finishing The Hunger Games became priority. But let me give you a little back story on why I was so hesitant.

I tend to not like the popular thing. Truthfully, I have this sick need to either seem indifferent or hate "the popular thing". Especially in fiction. Classic example - I was the definition of a Twi-hard before the movies. I had every soundtrack song, knew huge chunks of the novel by heart, and had my own inside jokes with other readers. In fact, you ask any of my close friends and they will tell you I bullied them to read it. Enter lots of word of mouth and book three crazy... and those movies. Suddenly, I don't tell people I liked Twilight, I don't even tell them I've read the book. I even waited 48 hours before breaking down and buying Breaking Dawn.

For me books are like secrets. When I read a great book, I get sucked in; I think the whole thing was written just for me. And the idea of sharing that now personal world with...everyone, it almost hurts. ...Now you can see why I was a lit major, huh?

Naturally then, when someone tells you they have the next big Twilight, I steer clear. That statement means two things - a series with at least a year's downtime between new novels; a huge, huge movie; and no privacy. And I'm too old for that crap...again.

With that back story we enter -- my rules to reading. They've been developed over my 24 years, mostly at personal and emotional cost. These are all very hard lessons I've learned.

1. Don't start a series, unless all the books are on the shelf
Admit it 20 year olds, you hate that your kids (and kids now) have all the Harry Potter books at their feet. We WAITED for those, we cried for those, we wrote thousands and thousands of pages of fanfiction desperate for those books. And then we read them in 24 hours. What the hell did that achieve? Its like waiting all year for Christmas and you rip through your presents before the parents wake up. Sure, we enjoyed reading them that fast, but now don't you wish you'd taken just a little time, broke for an hour just a few more times, just to make that magic -- that first magic -- last? And then we waited again. I refuse to wait for books now. I'll hold off reading the whole series until its out. Game of Thrones fans...look at what you're author does to you!

And then, even after this agony, I fell into it again. After I'd promised myself to steer clear of this pain. I thought I was doing good, I really did. I waited to read the Mortal Instruments series until all three books were out. I was even frugal, I bought paperback. AND THEN THE AUTHOR ANNOUNCED THERE WERE THREE MORE BOOKS. THREE. MORE.BOOKS. And I'm back where I started with Harry Potter. WORSE. I have to wait till the hardback turns soft. Don't ask how many times I've walked into the book store, praying that City of Fallen Angels is in paperback only to see hardbacks staring me in the face. I feel like punching them.

Still haven't learned my lesson. The Hunger Games? The first book was a Christmas gift in...paperback. They don't sell Catching Fire or Mocking Jay in paperback. My ass just spent $60 for 3 hardbacks because I'm weak. Sure all three books are out, but if I hadn't given in to weakness, I'd still be fuming...with a paperback to keep me company.

2. You keep it consistent
When you buy a series, I think they should all look alike. Hence, my 20 minute breakdown in Barnes and Noble today over hardback Hunger Games books. Mortal Instruments already has me dancing a horrible dance, and I think books should be more fun than this. This is something momma doesn't understand.  When she bought me the Golden Compass series, they were all three books, from three different sets. My surprise face at Christmas was not joyful...

3. Take breaks. You'll thank yourself later
At about book 4 in Harry Potter, my mother demanded, it was part of the I'll-drive-you-at-midnight deal, that I not start the book till the next morning. And then I had to stop every 5 chapters and do something else for an hour. Like say, homework, internet, anything but read the book, or read recap commentaries of the book. This continued through the rest of the series and into Twilight. Heck, even in to any book I start busting into commentary on out of the blue. (I'm just waiting for it to start with Catching Fire.)

While I was annoyed at first, I realized this action kept the book alive for me. It became an even greater escape from the everyday and in the end, I was happy for the prolonged time with characters and the places they were in. The break built more suspense and made me even more eager to read.

4. Spoil at your own risk 
Harry Potter, I didn't mind the spoilers. We all thought they were crap and half wrong anyway. Mortal Instruments, it was essential. Heather got out of bed, yelling, at 1 AM in the morning not believe'n this crap essential. Twilight, I stayed far, far away. I don't even venture into that section of internet town. And The Hunger Games, I'm just not doing it. I think I'm too old for it. I think I couldn't even find spoilers if I wanted to.

When you spoil, or hang out online at places that do, you're venturing into that at your own risk. Part of me doesn't care; I'm still going to love the story, and still read it because you know wikipedia is 60% nonsense anyway.  We all knew how Pride and Prejudice ended before we read it, and we still did. Yeah, I went there.

5. Go with the flow
If your "to read" pile is huge, don't schedule what books you're going to read. Pick one up and just read it. Your subconscious knows what you want to read more than you do most of the time. And I firmly believe books find you when you need them. It might sound horrible, but when I did pick up Twilight, I needed that desperate escape to the West Coast (since I was then stuck in snowy New Hampshire will drama up to my ears); when I read Aurora Leigh, I needed that stunning example of female epic poetry, even with its confounding ending. Books can change you. And what's worse...they know it.

6. Read what you want 
Okay, so I guessing you think I'm going to give this grand statement about how popular books are just awesome and I'm a jerk for judging the Hunger Games before I read it. Sorry! Not sayin' it. But I will say that you can't force books on people. And the fact that I came around wasn't because I gave into peer pressure, but that the book became a part of my home landscape and I felt comfortable picking it up. I never want to go into a book thinking I'll have disdain for it; and by waiting, I embraced the fantastic nature of the book instead of hating it for that nature.

And just in case anyone wants to know, I'm kinda hooked on the Hunger Games. The book. The movie will be a whole nother can of worms I'm sure.

There's my 6 rules. I live and die by them. Now tell me, do you have any reading rules?