Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Survey for August 23, 2015: Quiet Times

The Survey weekend recap The 3 Rs Blog

It's a lazy weekend around here. That seems totally appropriate for these hot late-August days, but by one important measure summer is already over--the new school year started a week ago. (There's not much homework yet, though.) I'm here a few hours late and probably a few paragraphs short, because I don't have a whole lot to tell this weekend.


I'm on a nonfiction streak right now. I was reading What Stands in a Storm: Three Days in the Worst Superstorm to Hit the South's Tornado Alley by journalist Kim Cross on audio all last week; I finished it during my drive home on Friday afternoon, and should have my thoughts about it posted soon. But if you want a quick sneak-peek opinion, here it is: definitely worth reading, especially if you've ever lived with the American South's particular version of severe weather. This afternoon, after this post is done, I'll be returning to a galley of Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O'Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World by Linda Hirshman (out 9/1/2015)....and maybe I'll be taking a nap, but that won't be a reflection on the book.


We are about 30 minutes from having absolutely nothing on the DVR. It won't last, of course, but it feels kind of strange and wrong. We finished watching the Netflix series Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp last week, and thoroughly enjoyed it even though we've never seen the original movie it follows as a fourteen-years-later prequel set six weeks earlier. We should remedy that...but aside from that vague intention, we really have nothing urgently demanding out attention in the Netflix queue right now, either, and that also feels strange and wrong. 


I'm trying to piece together my reflections on my recent re-watch of Freaks and Geeks (in which I finally introduced it to Paul)--I started working on that a couple of weeks ago, and would like to finish it up this week. I'm also pondering something that came up in a conversation with some friends about my book purge last month: that it might be interesting to consider, on an individual basis, why I finally discarded some of the books that I'd held for years without reading. Since I did download a list of those all those books before I deleted them from LibraryThing, I actually could do this, and it's starting to intrigue me as a project.


Somewhat related to that just-mentioned unread-books project, a Book Riot guest post on "Coming Clean About Books You Never Read":
"People say you tend to be repulsed most by the qualities in others that repulse you the most about yourself; those people tell the truth...I’m repulsed by my own occasional booklist shortcomings, all the times I failed to finish or even start so many."
Somewhat related to my nonfiction kick, a list of Six Great Nonfiction Resources from Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness, who is one of my best nonfiction resources

Completely related to TV, the ongoing Television 2015 essay series at NPR's Monkey See blog, by my podcast guru Linda Holmes:
"There's an awful lot of TV and an awful lot of ways to watch it. In fact, there may be too much entirely."

"As much experimentation as we see in TV, you also still see some old formats — late-night, awards shows and news among them — unsure about whether they need to change anything."

"Television used to arrive weekly in almost all cases, one episode at a time. Now, the timing is being rearranged, and so are the conversations around shows."

And just because I haven't posted a photo of him for a little while, here's Winchester in his current favorite napping spot. 

yellow dog napping and resting in a red chair

If you're not napping this Sunday, let me know what's up with you!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Four Favorite Podcasts: TV On My (Car) Radio

TV Podcasts graphic The 3 Rs Blog
Images via Pixabay, edited and mixed with Enlight

If you haven’t heard me gripe about my daily commute–two hours round-trip on a good day–you’re new around here, and/or you don’t know I live and work in the Greater Los Angeles area. Sad to say, commutes like mine are not uncommon here. My commute is what made me an audiobook reader. But I like breaks between my books (and occasionally, during them), and that’s when I cue up some podcasts. My favorites mostly talk about television—what, you thought I’d say "books”?—and they all seem to lead back to one person.

I’ve “known” Linda Holmes since she was a reality-TV recapper, writing up episodes of Survivor, The Amazing Race, and other shows of far lesser quality under the screen name “Miss Alli” at the now-defunct, still-mourned TV website Television Without Pity (TWoP). Now a well-established TV critic and pop-culture analyst, Linda hosts NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour (weekly on Fridays, with single-topic “Small Batch Editions” popping up at random), where she has been known to spring the occasional “Regrettable Television Pop Quiz” on her PCHH cohorts Stephen Thompson, Glen Weldon, and various recurring fourth-chair guests. However, in addition to TV, PCHH gathers a wide range of topics along under the “pop culture” umbrella: movies, music, books and comic books, games, and trends. This podcast informs and enlightens me, and it’s easy to hear how much the participants in its “roundtable discussion” enjoy talking with each other.

PCHH is the podcast I’ve subscribed to the longest, but it led me to the newest addition to my TV-podcast list, Appointment Television (biweekly on Thursdays). Hosted by college friends Kathryn VanArendonk, Andrew Cunningham, and Friend of Linda Holmes/sometime PCHH fourth chair Margaret H. Willison, this podcast is new to existence—its third episode just went up last week, so we’ll see how it develops, but I like what I’m hearing so far.

I discovered TV critic Alan Sepinwall via his friend Linda Holmes’ mention of his book The Revolution Was Televised on PCHH, and that led me to his long-running show with Daniel Fienberg, The Firewall and Iceberg Podcast (usually weekly, usually midweek). They preview upcoming TV shows, review and recap ongoing TV shows, discuss the business of making TV, answer listener questions (email FirewallIceberg@HitFix.com), and host the annual themed “Summer TV Rewatch”. These two are longtime friends and colleagues, and while I don’t always agree with their opinions, I do always enjoy their back-and-forth conversation.

Writing as ”Miss Alli” at TWoP, Linda Holmes worked with site founders and editors “Glark,” “Wing Chun,” and “Sars.” They’ve all long since moved on and claimed their real names online. David T. Cole, Tara Ariano, and Sarah D. Bunting are now running the recap-and-commentary site Previously.TV and hosting the Extra Hot Great Podcast (weekly on Tuesdays, with single-topic “Minis” on other weekdays) with a rotating cast of Previously contributors in the role of “Valued Guest.” EHG’s signature segments are “The Canon” and “Game Time.” “The Canon” considers the enduring greatness of a single episode of TV, and occasionally inverts itself into “The Nonac,” which evaluates truly terrible episodes of otherwise good shows. “Game Time” presents a different TV-themed competition to the panel each week, and can be great fun to play along with at home (or in the car, in my case). The hosts know each other well and crack each other up, and they usually crack me up too–this is the most consistently entertaining entertainment podcast I subscribe to.

There you have ‘em—a few of my favorite podcasts, all brought to me, in some capacity, by Linda Holmes. If you’d like to bring me any TV- or entertainment-themed podcasts, leave your recs in the comments. and I’ll check ‘em out!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

When Do You Read It? On Pub Dates, Priorities, and Book Discovery

In which a question posted in the Book Bloggers Do It Better Facebook group last week sent me hunting for a post I'd saved to my "Blognotes" notebook in Evernote almost two years ago

"When we have several books that are releasing around the same time to review- do we tend to try to read the debut first (knowing they are really counting on reviews to come in) or the more established author? Or does it matter to you?"

when will you read that book? graphic The 3 Rs Blog

I'm really only concerned about release dates with the ARCs I review for Shelf Awareness, and I have editorial guidelines and assistance that help me prioritize those when necessary. If I've received galleys that share a publication date and I don't think I'll get them all read in a timely manner, I give preference to the one that looks the most interesting to me at that particular time--granted, "interesting" is highly subjective and not always consistent, but it works for me.

I've honestly never considered scheduling my review reading based on whether the author is a first-timer or an old-timer, or thought about debuts "needing" reviews more, although from the perspective of book discovery, I suppose there's something to that. All of the reviews in Shelf Awareness for Readers conclude with a promotional "discover" hook, and will often mention if the book is a debut. However, I rarely post reviews on Goodreads or Amazon or other sites where they can drive a book's "discoverability." Maybe I haven't thought about it much because "discovering" books is absolutely NOT a problem for me.

And maybe that points to something else about me as a reader and book blogger: even when I'm being paid to review a book, I put my own reading interests first. When I have good things to say about a book, I certainly hope what I say will drive readers to it--IF it aligns with their own reading interests--but I'm not saying it in service to any "needs" of authors or publishers. I'm less motivated by those than by the needs of readers--myself included--for good books.

It's particularly true about books, but it applies to other forms of culture and entertainment too: it doesn't have to be "new" to be "new to you", and "discovery" can happen after hours, or weeks, or even years. Linda Holmes of Pop Culture Happy Hour addressed this in an October 2013 Monkey See post about "release date myopia:"
"New This Week, New Right Now, New And Hot, New And Notable — if you're talking about culture, you've got to have this stuff; you can't not have it. But a little less preoccupation with becoming one of 50 reviews of a movie 75 percent of people can't see yet, or one of 25 reviews of a book that has a 20-week waiting list at the library, might lead to more productive conversations on the whole...We might be better off simply starting discussions about things that are interesting and trusting that the audience is always composed of a mix of those who are familiar with them and those who aren't... 
"Books are available essentially foreverWhenever. If you're looking on a given weekend for something great to watch or read, the odds are overwhelming — in fact, you can guarantee — that you can find something better among what you've missed than among what's new."
Parts of the book-blogging community seem to be much less release-date-driven than they once were. A few of my blogger friends have climbed off the book-hype hamster wheel almost entirely--they rarely accept ARCs anymore, and that leaves them free to discover what they want to read, when they want to read it. And when I don't have a paid-review deadline to meet, sometimes I'll discover that an ARC just doesn't speak to me when its release date approaches, and it will remain in TBR for months or even years. (If it doesn't get purged, that is.)

There are apps that will calculate how long it will take you to read a particular book or to get through your entire TBR collection, but very few of us avid readers will ever have all the time we need for all the books we want to read. How do you discover books? How do you decide what to read next? And do your own needs a reader come first?

Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Reader's Journal: GO SET A WATCHMAN, by Harper Lee

Go Set a Watchman: A Novel
Harper Lee
Audiobook read by Reese Witherspoon
Harper Books (July 2015), hardcover (ISBN 0062409859 / 9780062409850)
Fiction, 288 pages
Source: Public library/audiobook download via Overdrive (Harper Audio, July 2015, ISBN 9780062409898, ASIN B00TABW9Y0)

NOTE: The following contains potential spoilers for Go Set a Watchman.

The story of Go Set a Watchman’s publication has almost overshadowed the story it tells. It may or may not be the first draft of what, after significant revisions, became To Kill a Mockingbird. It may have been “lost” for decades. It was probably edited very little, if at all; it’s essentially a manuscript. It was never intended for publication, and if it weren’t for the mystique associated with Harper Lee and her only novel, it’s almost certain it would never have been released. But it’s been published now—with no shortage of controversy—and it’s become the most-discussed book of 2015. I really hadn’t been planning to read it, but curiosity about it as a literary curiosity made me change my mind.

I don’t count To Kill a Mockingbird among my all-time-favorite novels, but I’ve talked about it here, and said this when I re-read it several years ago:
This was a more meaningful reading experience for me the second time around. I think that having returned to the South for ten years after my original reading of the novel - and then leaving it again - made me appreciate its Southern literary flavor even more, and connect better with the history that informs it. Having said that, I had some trouble buying the enlightened attitudes of the Finch family in that time and place; writing of the 1930's in the late 1950's, Harper Lee seems to be foreshadowing the coming civil-rights upheavals of the 1960's.
Go Set a Watchman portrays the Finches in the 1950s with less enlightened attitudes than they have in the 1930s. Written in the 1950s as the South was beginning to respond to the Supreme Court’s desegregation ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, had it been published at the time, it would have been contemporary fiction rather than the period piece that Mockingbird is. In that context, the connections with Southern history are different and the civil-rights perspective feels more appropriate to the time—and sadly, so do Atticus Finch’s racist views.

The events of Watchman, such as they are, take place over just a few days, as 26-year-old Jean Louise Finch—Mockingbird’s Scout—is making her annual two-week visit home to Maycomb, Alabama. She has been living in New York City for several years, and on this trip, she realizes that she can’t come home again…not to stay, at least. She is upset to discover that her father is actively involved in efforts to maintain Maycomb’s racial status quo, and stricken by the understanding that these actions genuinely reflect beliefs that she never realized he held. Life in Maycomb is black and white, in more ways than one, but Jean Louise’s worldview has suddenly acquired shades of gray…and she has no idea how to handle that. Given that the political elements of Watchman are portrayed rather clumsily, it seems that Lee may not have really known how to handle them either.

In a piece for B&N Review, Lizzie Skurnick suggests that the politics of Watchmen are actually beside the point:
Watchman is not a failed race novel or a rough draft of Mockingbird. It’s a novel about Jean Louise becoming a woman.”
Skurnick supports this argument by citing what I thought were some of the most effective, engaging episodes of the novel:
”(T)he childhood Jean Louise gets her period, a teenaged Jean Louise unsuccessfully stuffs her (nonexistent) bra, and her adult self fumbles with the idea of marrying childhood beau Henry Clinton…When Aunt Alexandra throws Jean Louise a much-feared Coffee, her social gathering of the town’s women, we are treated to a stunning chapter worthy of The Group (with notes of Peyton Place). Like an anthropologist, Jean Louise is the silent recipient of the idle chatter that codifies the world of Maycomb’s women “
I think Skurnick is completely on point here. The sections in which Jean Louise reluctantly confronts her transformation from tomboy to woman feel uncomfortable because they feel real—they resonate on an emotional level. The discussions of race and politics feel uncomfortable because they’re just not written very well.

Whether or not Mockingbird really emerged from bits extracted from Watchman is also beside the point, I think. I do think that’s plausible, as there are portions that sound and feel like they could have developed into the novel we know so well, but much of the book is something else entirely. Ultimately, my impression of Go Set a Watchman is that it has some potential, in spots--which, if the backstory is true, Lee's editor recognized--but as is, it’s inconsistent and has many weaknesses. Not the least of these weaknesses is that while we do end up with some understanding of why Jean Louise might rather live in New York City, we never learn what she does there, or how she landed there in the first place.

Watchman is an interesting document to consider in relation to Mockingbird, but there’s not a lot to recommend it on its own merits—it doesn’t fully work as a standalone novel, and Mockingbird doesn’t need it as a companion. All that said, I'm not sorry I read it, and I thought Reese Witherspoon's performance of the audiobook made the good parts of the story that much better.

Go Set a Watchman is the subject of a "Book Breakdown" at The Socratic Salon today.

Book description, from the publisher's website
Originally written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman was the novel Harper Lee first submitted to her publishers before To Kill a Mockingbird. Assumed to have been lost, the manuscript was discovered in late 2014. 
Go Set a Watchman features many of the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird some twenty years later. Returning home to Maycomb to visit her father, Jean Louise Finch—Scout—struggles with issues both personal and political, involving Atticus, society, and the small Alabama town that shaped her. 
Exploring how the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird are adjusting to the turbulent events transforming mid-1950s America, Go Set a Watchman casts a fascinating new light on Harper Lee's enduring classic.
Opening Lines:

"Since Atlanta, she had looked out the dining-car window with a delight almost physical. Over her breakfast coffee, she watched the last of Georgia's hills recede and the red earth appear, and with it tin-roofed houses set in the middle of swept yards, and in the yards the inevitable verbena grew, surrounded by whitewashed tires. She grinned when she saw her first TV antenna atop an unpainted Negro house; as they multiplied, her joy rose."

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015


Little, Brown and Company (July 14, 2015), Hardcover (ISBN 0316373788 / 9780316373784)
Nonfiction: memoir, 336 pages

Shelf Awareness for Readers provided me with a publisher-furnished galley to facilitate the review, but it was not submitted, published, or compensated by them because it was not completed by deadline.

Book review ANCHOR AND FLARES: A MEMOIR Kate Braestrup

Kate Braestrup’s Anchor and Flares is subtitled “A Memoir of Motherhood, Hope, and Service.” I’d suggest that “hope” and “service” are essential components of motherhood, and while Braestrup certainly explores both themes within that context, all three concepts are braided together in this frank and warm-hearted memoir.

Braestrup, an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister, is a chaplain for the Maine Warden Service—it’s a job description that strikes me as a textbook example of “service.” Her responsibilities include offering support to all involved in search-and-rescue missions: the searchers and the searched-for, as well as their families. The months-long search for a probable drowning victim is one of the book’s central threads, as Braestrup draws connections between the lost young man and her eldest son, Zach, who stunned the family by enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps right out of high school.

Zach’s late father was a Maine state trooper, and his grandfather was also a Marine; his mother may be somewhat dismayed by his decision, but she can't deny that he's continuing a family tradition of service in civil and military defense. At the time Zach joined the Marines, the likelihood that he would be deployed to either Iraq or Afghanistan was very high—the Marines were on the front lines in both places. Any mother would be terrified for her child under those circumstances—and Braestrup is. But the terror is mingled with anger at her son’s decision to put himself in danger, as well as pride that he chose to follow the path of his beloved grandfather.

Hope is one way to cope with the terror--to balance it out and rein it in. The hope that Braestrup relies on isn't a blind faith; faith is part of it, but it's clear-eyed, and it coexists with experience and wisely tempered optimism. This is hope as something distinct from "hopefulness," and I could see it as a sustaining mindset for Kate, widowed young with four children to raise on her own.

Braestrup is half of a relationship that's been described as the triumph of hope over experience: a second marriage, complete with the formation of a blended family. Zach is the eldest of the six children she and her husband Simon share, but all of them are teens or entering adulthood, which means the functions of parenthood are frequently in flux. Many motherhood memoirs--thousands, if you count mom blogs--are drawn from experiences raising young children, but children don't stay young. As the mother and stepmother of three older children, Braestrup's reflections on motherhood as the activity of raising is winding down resonated strongly with me. The memoir includes several letters she's written to her kids on various occasions, and the one to her stepchildren as she prepared to marry their father--"I don't promise to love you, but I do promise to help your father be the best he can for you" (adding that she does indeed love them)--so accurately summed up my own feelings about my role as a stepmother I nearly caught my breath as I read it.

While Anchor and Flares rambles a bit structurally and doesn't always hold its narrative threads tightly, I found Braestrup's voice thoroughly winning--heartfelt, thoughtful, observant, sometimes wry and dryly funny. She's written two memoirs that precede this one, Here If You Need Me and Marriage and Other Acts of Charity, and now that we've met, I'm thinking I'd like to read them both and know more of her story.

Rating: 3.75 of 5

"As a young mother Kate Braestrup discovered the fierce protectiveness that accompanies parenthood. In the intervening years--through mourning her husband and the joy of remarriage and a blended family-Kate has absorbed the rewards and complications of that spirit. 
"But when her eldest son joins the Marines, Kate is at a crossroads: Can she reconcile her desire to protect her children with her family's legacy of service? Can parents balance the joy of a child's independence with the fear of letting go? 
"As Kate examines the twinned emotions of faith and fear-inspired by the families she meets as a chaplain and by her son's journey towards purpose and familyhood-she learns that the threats we can't predict will rip us apart and knit us together.
From Chapter One (ARC):

"When I was a little child, I lived in hot places (Algeria, Thailand, Washington DC), but I prefer the hazards, inconveniences, and forced modesty of a cold climate, so now I live in Maine. Blizzards and black ice are far easier for me to cope with than cholera and political turmoil, and I like knitting sweaters more than sweating, so although my first (late) husband, Drew, was a Southerner, our children were raised where the climate provides, as Mainers say, two seasons: winter and July.

"Simon's children also call Maine home. Simon is my second husband. Between us, we have a total of six (four of mine, two of his; three boys, three girls), so, one way and another, separately and together, Simon and I have done a fair amount of parenting.

"Now Zach, our eldest, and his wife, Erin, are going to have a baby. All the bliss, none of the hassle, proselytize our grandparent friends, and we are beside ourselves with anticipation and joy."

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Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Survey--Reading on Borrowed Time; or, Getting Reacquainted With the Library

the survey, a weekend roundup on The 3 Rs Blog

Reading and Listening

Remember when I was contemplating a free-range-reading summer? The book stack I made in anticipation of that is still assembled, and I actually did read one book out of it...and then my August and September packages from Shelf Awareness showed up. They brought me so many interesting options that I may exceed my review quota for those two months (but since I didn't get any reviews to them for July, going over would just about have me breaking even for the year to date).

The upshot is that instead of reading freely, I'm reading for money. I've submitted two women's-fiction reviews for August, I am currently reading a memoir about a New York socialite who became a high-society funeral planner (Good Mourning by Elizabeth Meyer, out on August 25) and I have some fascinating-looking September nonfiction next up in the queue after that.

I'm less excited about what's coming my way for October, though, and November and December tend to be slow on the new-books front, so it may just be a "free-range fall" instead of summer.

On the audiobook front, I've been reading for free--I checked my first audiobook out from the public library on my new card, via Overdrive. I had decided that I was curious enough to want to read Go Set a Watchman after all, but not enough to want to buy it. I will have some things to say about it soon, but I will say right now that I made the right call about where to get it..

Audiobooks were the primary incentive for my recent acquisition of a library card, but I didn't realize until after I'd gotten it that my local library system has a pretty paltry audiobook collection. However, California residents can obtain cards to any California library for free--you just have to be able to pick up the card in person, with ID and proof of address, so I got a card for the neighboring Los Angeles Public Library system last week.

The LAPL media collection is huge, but I've got just two audiobooks on holds right now--I'm trying not to place too many holds at the same time to minimize the chances that they'll all come in at once, since I doubt I'll have time to read them all at once. I'm using Overdrive's wish list function to keep track of the books I'd like to place on hold.

I may start using Overdrive for ebooks from the library eventually, in addition to audiobooks, but not when I'm especially busy on the review front. My commute provides me with 8-10 hours a week to read audiobooks as a captive audience, but my available time for print and ebooks is harder to predict, and the tricky part of fitting library books into it is that there's a fixed window to read them once you get them in hand.

So...if you have any time-management hints for juggling freelance reviewing and borrowed books, let me know in the comments!

reading glasses a writing pen and 2 library cards


After nearly ten years of ineffective persuasion, I finally got Paul to watch Freaks and Geeks with me as a summertime binge-watch, and we finished it this week. (I've had the series on DVD since before I met him, but we watched it on Netflix streaming, because it's just easier.) 

I think the new podcast Appointment Television is going to become one of my favorites pretty quickly. The topic of its second episode was the increasingly popular summer activity of the TV rewatch, with one aspect of that being the particular experience of rewatching a show with someone who's never seen it before. I have other things to say about Freaks and Geeks, but I'll say right now that even though I last watched it over a decade ago, I think I liked it even more this time, partly because I got to see how Paul reacted to it as something new to him.

Sharing and Linking

Earlier this year, I thought I would start doing periodic link-roundup posts instead of including them here on Sundays, but I've had enough trouble getting around to these Sunday posts lately, let alone anything new, so I've reconsidered...for now.

  • If I revisit the separate-link-roundup idea, maybe I'd do it as an email newsletter--although there's no way I'd do it as well as my new favorite, Two Bossy Dames.

So, how are you spending this summer Sunday?

Thursday, August 6, 2015

It's HOW You Read It: A Reading-Habits Q&A

This short survey asks about reading habits--not what you read, but where, when, and how you read it. I lifted the questions from a recent post on Suey's blog.

where, when, how: a q&a about reading habits

1. Do you have a certain place at home for reading?

Never good to begin with, my middle-aged eyes seriously need a well-lit place for reading, and my house has three of them. My favorite is my old green armchair in our second-story loft. It has a big window on one side and a lamp on the other, as well as a nearby table and an ottoman where I can put my feet up. I read in bed every night, even if I only get through a few pages before my eyelids start to droop, and I have a good bedside lamp (and a stack of pillows) to make that comfortable. The lighting over the armchair in our living room isn't always adequate for my reading, but when it is, that's my third spot. (I'm hoping the new contact-lens prescription I'm expecting soon makes it easier for me to read there more frequently.)

2. Do you use a bookmark or a random piece of paper?

I almost always use a bookmark. My favorites have a ribbon to mark the page and an elastic to wrap around the book, so I don't lose my place when I drop it! (Learned from experience, y'all...)

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

It depends on what, when, and where I'm reading. I think reading audiobooks has helped me get more comfortable with stopping "wherever"--I listen to those in the car, and when I get to where I'm going, I turn the book off. That said, I do prefer getting to the end of a chapter or section before I stop reading a print book...but if I'm sleepy and catch myself nodding off, I usually won't push it.

4. Do you eat or drink while reading?

If I'm eating alone, I read while I'm eating. If it's not mealtime, I usually have water or coffee nearby to drink as I read. I rarely snack while I do anything, and that includes reading.

armchair by a window surrounded by books on side table and ottoman

5. Do you watch TV or listen to music while reading?

I usually have a hard time focusing on my reading if I'm in the same room where everyone else is watching TV, unless the show holds absolutely zero interest for me. I can read with music in the background, but I rarely remember to do it now that my music lives on my laptop and iDevices--it was much more common for me to have it on when I had to switch on the stereo.

6. Do you read one book at a time or several at once?

After a lifetime of bookish serial monogamy, book blogging has changed my ways, and I don't often read just one book at a time anymore. It's easy for me to read two books simultaneously if one of them's an audiobook, but if I'm juggling two print books (or print and an ebook), one will usually end up getting the majority of my attention.

7. Do you prefer to read at home or anywhere?

I read with the most focus at home. I can read in coffee shops and other public places if the book is really holding my attention and I'm not watching the clock because I need to get somewhere else. I read audiobooks only in the car (as the driver). and I read ebooks in the car (as a passenger) more comfortably than paper books. In short, I read pretty much anywhere!

8. Do you read out loud or silently?

Unless I'm reading to someone else, I read silently to myself. (Don't most adults?)

9. Do you read ahead or skip pages?

I very occasionally peek ahead and then return to where I was, but 99% of the time, I read pages in their natural, numerical order.

10. Do you break the spine or keep it like new?

I don't usually break a book spine unless it was poorly constructed, but since I usually read paperbacks, I definitely bend covers.

11. Do you write in your books?

I've rarely written in a book that wasn't a textbook; between Catholic school and university, I have had to buy many textbooks, and the one advantage of owning them is the freedom to make notes and write in them as much as you want. I do highlight in ebooks, but I seldom mark up a paper book.

You're more than welcome to run off with them and answer them for yourself--let me know if you do, so I can satisfy my curiosity about how you read!