The Need to Read Episode 1: How Jess Reads

Books Featured In This Episode

Where the Red Fern Grows

Locke & Key

The Secret History

The Magus

The Book of Strange New Things



Hey everybody it’s Jessica here with the Need to Read and today I want to start off by talking a little bit about reading habits and kind of what mine are, maybe what yours are, how they’ve changed. I haven’t really put a lot of planning into this one. I literally have just like gotten dressed, all fancy today, drank my coffee almost, and started doing this because the light was good and I thought I’d pop it out before I headed off to work this morning.

So reading habits. How many books do you read a year? How many books do I read a year? I, this year, am on track to read about 95. I’m going to see if I can crack 100 if I’m lucky but I’m not sure it’s quite going to work out. I did have a little bit of help because 6 of my books were the 6 volumes of Locke & Key, the graphic novel series and those you can pretty much get through one a night. So is it cheating? Maybe a little bit. But did I also read a whole bunch of really large, gigantic books? Yes. Yes I did.

So we’ll see if I crack 100, I’m not really set on it but it would be pretty nice because my goal for the year was 75, which I passed last month or maybe the month before. I’m at around 84 I think right now. If you want to track your books, Goodreads is what I use, just their Reading Challenge for the year. I set my goal in advance and kind of tried to go from there. And I don’t really have much of a system, I just kind of take them as they come. Audiobooks have definitely helped me this year. I listen to them on the train and in the car. Those definitely helped me build a lot of the spots that would usually not be taken up by books in my life. So definitely given me a boost of like at least 5, maybe 10, by the end of the year.

And then I wanted to talk about one other thing that I just did that I used to do all the time and that I haven’t done in years, until like a few weeks ago. So one thing that’s hampering my numbers a little bit is that I basically took a week that I would normally have read a couple of books and instead I re-read a book. I used to re-read books constantly. I used to just read the same books over and over and over again. I think I lost track of how many times I read Where the Red Fern Grows when I hit about 20. This was a habit that stuck with me for a long time. I would read The Secret History by Donna Tartt over and over and over again. But the reasons I would re-read those books was because I loved them so much that I just wanted to get lost in that familiar place over again. I wanted to go back and find those familiar characters over again. Every now and then I will read something over again to rediscover, one book that I have re-read I think twice that has been really great for that is The Magus. The Magus by, uh God, John Fowles? John Fowles. I want to say John Fowles. And I’m looking on my bookshelf and I don’t see it. Oh God, it’s not gonna be John Fowles and I’m gonna be wrong. But let’s pretend it’s John Fowles, shall we?

So The Magus is this big, fat book that just messes with your head and goes in all these really bizarre directions and it’s a lot of fun to re-read because it’s so labyrinthine and I always forget how it goes about halfway through. I end up just start doing it like it’s totally new, which is a lot of fun. One benefit of reading a whole lot of books is that when you go back to an old one you have totally forgotten how it ended. I read Gone Girl in March of 2012, so like a few months before it came out, to review it and I literally had no recollection of what happened in the plot after about halfway through. So it was great going to see the movie was like, Oh I have no idea hwat’s going to happen. And it’s great for re-reading books too.

But yeah, so I re-read a book this year for the first time in ages. And it wasn’t just weird that I re-read a book period, it was a book that I had just read. So around August I read The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber. I was really excited ot read it because I loved The Crimson Petal and the White. I remember when it came out, I have a copy, I read it–I devoured it–over the course of several days and it was a book that I enjoyed just immensely. And it’s the kind of book that I would totally not expect to like. I just stumbled upon it and was in love. 100% in love. So I was very excited about this, I really like Michel Faber and was very interested to see what this book was about. So I read it and I loved it and I thought this might be my favorite book of the year, which is a tough position to get, I mean, I read almost 100 books a year, it’s hard to be the best. And then this last month, about two months after I had just read it, I thought Maybe I should read it again just to see if it’s still my favorite book of the year and to see if I still feel as strongly about it as I do. And luckily for me I had once again forgotten the ending of the book. I remembered a lot, I remembered like 80% of the book, but you know, you lose the details, you lose the specifics, you lose all those little things that make a book magical. And I re-read it to find that I absolutely 100% felt the same way, that I still loved it. That a book could be that interesting to me again just a couple months later when I already knew so much of what was going to happen and a lot of the suspense and a lot of the twists and turns that are a big part of that book were no longer, you know, a mystery. Wow. It was a really great book, it just hit me on a really crazed level. Faber is really amazing and I think this is the – I’m just gonna say it, if something else comes out and takes it out of my #1 spot, I will be completely bowled over and surprised. And thrilled because if you’re gonna beat this, that’s a pretty great thing.

But yeah, it’s pretty –spoiler alert—odds are that’s going to be my #1 book of this year. Yeah. I think it’s pretty good. So yeah, those are some of the things about how I read, how many books, how often, re-reading, repeats. Would love to hear what your habits are, how you fit books in, what kind of books you’re into, what you read this year, what you’re loving. The best books of the year list will be coming very soon, you may have noticed the book world, the best book of the year lists start in early November, which makes not much sense, right? Because we’ve still got two months left. Here’s the thing is that they don’t really put out a lot of new books in December and not that many in November and for those of us who review books, we read all those books in like summer. So we’re pretty much ready. I’m reading well into Spring of 2015 right now, so yeah, I’m trying to cover a few last bases but I think the top 10 books of the year, or at least the top books of the year list, is gonna be pretty much set to go in the next few weeks here. So yeah, it’s great chatting with y’all. I actually don’t have any makeup on except a little lipstick I put on so that I wouldn’t look totally weird in this video so I’m gonna finish getting ready for work yet and head out for the day. Take care, have a good one.

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