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My All-Or-Nothing Approach To Reading Books


I haven't read a non-technical book for well over a year. The main reason for this is that when I read books I tend to do it to excess. Like my mother before me I'm able to read books rather quickly – I can get through an average-sized 300 page book in a day or two (although normally I like to take it easy and stretch it out another day or so) – and when I do that I'll pick up another book straight away and so on. This means that I can get through a lot of books in a short period of time. The side-effect is that I tend to burn out after a while and a year can go by when I don't read a thing. Then I'll pick up a book and the cycle starts over.

For example, I borrowed the first Inspector Rebus book written by Ian Rankin from a colleague a few years ago. I really enjoyed it (being set in Edinburgh was a great start). After reading it I realised that Ian Rankin had in fact written a dozen or so Inspector Rebus books (17 now) so I made it my mission to read them all. I ordered 3 sets of trilogies and then proceeded to read 8 of the books back to back. Then I burned out and didn't pick up another book for quite some time.

As I said, I haven't read a non-technical book in over a year (maybe two now I think about it) and while I was away on holiday on Arran the other week I spied an Andy McNab book on the bookcase (called Aggressor as it happens). I sat down and read it and rather enjoyed it (an easy read with adventure, sex, guns, and lots of tough-guy SAS-speak). Following that I spotted the first two books from the Terry Pratchett Discworld series. For years I've been meaning to read them but since there are so many I knew it would be a major ordeal to get through them all (which my compulsive reading habits would demand) and refrained.

So here were the first two books in the series and I had no excuse but to read them. Which I did. I was halfway through the second book when we left but I decided to "borrow" it and return it when I'd finished (reminder to self: make good on that promise). Pratchett's humour really cracks me up and I kept annoying my good lady by bursting into laughter at random times. When I finished the second book I was straight on Amazon marketplace buying up more of them for 1p a pop. Then I had a look and realised that he's written about 36 of the damn things! Since I want to avoid burnout this time I'm attempting to pace myself by only buying 3-4 books at a time, reading them and then getting some more – trying to drip-feed myself instead of binge eating them.

Anyway, I've just started book six (Wyrd Sisters) and I'll try and take my time about it. It's better than sitting in bed a night reading about regular expressions!

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Creator of John's Background Switcher. Scotsman, footballer, photographer, dog owner, risk taker, heart breaker, nice guy. Some of those are lies.

3 Comments Join the Conversation

  1. Heh, that’s true – pretty much completely different tastes in books at work there! Although I have read ‘The Life of Pi’ – which was rather good!


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