I’ve heard many times that a good author also has to be a voracious reader. In my youth, from elementary school through high school and college up until 2006, I was a voracious reader. I would devour a book a week, sometimes more. Then, in 2006, during my capstone class for my English degree, our instructor had us read The History of Reading by Alberto Manguel. He had us analyze every paragraph of every chapter, often telling us that we were coming up with the wrong interpretations. Now, this is not meant to be a judgement of the book itself, but that class literally sucked ALL the joy out of reading for me. I hated the class. I hated the book. I wrote a several-page course evaluation that caught the attention of the department head, in which I told them what a colossal waste of time the class had been and how I failed to see how analyzing that book paragraph by paragraph was supposed to summarize and collate all of my experiences as an English major and prepare me for the real world (that I already had a full-time job with the company for which I still work was irrelevant).
Since then, I have found reading to be an absolute chore. There have been a few exceptions: I tore through Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia in 2-3 days. I read Redemption (In Her Name), a trilogy omnibus by Michael R. Hicks and Origin by J.A. Konrath in about 5 days for the four books. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss took me close to six months. I still haven’t finished Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson or Raven’s Heart by M.S. Verish. Now, maybe it’s a writing style thing, but I liked The Name of the Wind. I just couldn’t stay focused on the book. And that’s been my conundrum in a lot of cases. I can sit down with a book, start reading it and say to myself “OK, I get the world and the premise. The characters are interesting…oooh! Squirrel!” Origin and Redemption were the first books I read on my Kindle and the first time since that class that I wanted to keep reading instead of doing other things. Previous books since that class I finished because I didn’t have anything else going on and I felt I needed to finish the books. It was almost as if I was resigned to finishing them out of obligation rather than a desire to see the story through.
On the other hand, it could be the medium. Redemption and Origin I read on my Kindle Keyboard (the e-ink one), whereas The Name of the Wind I read on my Kindle Fire, a device on which I found reading to be more difficult than a paperback or an e-ink ereader. I love e-ink for reading. LCDs…meh. Monster Hunter International I read on my new Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″, a device that’s still LCD, but has a MUCH higher resolution and crisper screen than the 1st generation Kindle Fire.
I suppose time will tell if I can ever be as enthusiastic a reader as I was eight years ago. I am going to try to read more books this year than I have in the past eight (that shouldn’t be hard; I think I may have read maybe a dozen books in the last eight years, a number I find shockingly low and both embarrassing and depressing). Furthermore, I am going to try to put up reviews on Goodreads for the books I read. I’ve spoken before how reviews are the second best thing a reader can do for an author (the best thing is actually buying the book), plus writing a review is more practice writing and I do endeavor to improve my craft. Reading more and writing more can only assist me in that goal.