Reading Habits

Though I often think about it, I rarely post reviews of what I’m reading here for several reasons.  Often what I am reading is something academic, and it is boring enough to read that stuff let alone write reviews of it.  Do you really want to hear about Geographies of Writing: Inhabiting Places and Encountering Difference, or Talk about Writing: The Tutoring Strategies of Experienced Writing Center Tutors (both are really good by the way)? How about the fact that I cannot wait to get a copy of Hospitality and Authoring: An Essay for the English Profession?  I bet you can wait to hear about that right?

Then there is my Post-Dissertation Stress Disorder (PDSD). No, I am not trying to minimize, or be disrespectful, to anyone suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) by equating the stress of graduate work to PTSD.  I do, however, think that graduate work, and dissertation writing in particular, breaks you down in ways that require significant recovery when it is all over.  For me,  I have noticed writing is not something I am doing for fun anymore, even when I want to (notice the lack of posts here). Finishing books is also something I’m terrible at right now.  Terrible.  If I reviewed every book I picked up here, I could line up posts, but since finishing a book is a requirement of reviewing it … you get the idea.

There is an additional element to not finishing. I’ve been trying to read more books electronically. I have a nice Kindle collection going, and I think I’ve truly finished three of them. It is awful.  Part of the problem is that they just aren’t visible.  There isn’t a pile of books laying around the house guilting me into finishing them.  The other problem is that when I do open up my app and read it doesn’t feel like I am getting anywhere.  I recently realized I like to see my place in a book progress. It is not just about progress, I like to know how much of a story I have left. Seeing that I am 37 or 42% done with a book doesn’t really help me there.

Despite these failures, I do faithfully finish two books every month, my audiobooks.  Though I do sometimes listen to respectable books like, The Invisible Woman by Claire Tomalin, pulp is probably the best way to describe my audible library.  There is an embarrassing amount of Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Johnathan Maberry, Jeffery Deaver, Ann Rule, Lisa Gardiner, and Tess Gerritsen in there, not to mention the zombie fiction. My audiobooks are my escape.  I listen as I commute to work, cook, clean house, and sometimes walk around the neighborhood. They are a way for me to indulge myself, yet still feel like I have accomplished something.

All of this is to say, this month I read/listened to something I want to talk about. The fact that I love mysteries and detective fiction is no secret. I am always on the look out for a new series to capture me.  When I find one I generally listen until I am caught up, and have to wait for the next installment. (Cody McFadyen really needs to get the next Smoky Barrett book out.) This month I tried Elizabeth Heiter’s Hunted (The Profiler).  It is the first book in her Evelyn Baine series.  The book is good enough for me to stick around with the series, some rocky places, some unanswered questions, like any first book in a series. What is interesting about this book for me is that Evelyn Baine is bi-racial. Okay, it might not sound like much if you don’t read a lot of this genre, but at least what I have been reading lately is a sea of whiteness. Alex Cross is the exception folks, not the rule. Even better, I loved that this detail was just that during this novel.  It was a detail, a part of who Baine is certainly a part of what shapes her, but not something that overly determined the plot.

Look, as much as I love imagining myself as Clarice Starling, I don’t just read to see myself.  I read to find how and where I can identify across my difference with the protagonists.  I want to read, empathize, and learn as much from Ardelia Mapp as I do from Clarice, which is why Evelyn Baine is refreshing, and I am excited to stick with this series.

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