Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sunday Salon: More Bookish Chatter

11:34 a.m. I am putting the finishing touches on my review of Merciless by Richard Montanari. I finished the novel just after midnight last night and jotted down my thoughts this morning. I like to write my reviews soon after finishing a book, preferably before I start reading the next one. I find it brings me a sense of closure, where I can think about my overall reading experience, the book itself and how I am feeling once all is said and done. It has become such a natural part of my reading process that it no longer feels like the chore it once did when I first became keeping a journal of all the books I read. I actually feel unsettled and unsatisfied if I do not get the chance to at least jot down my thoughts in a notebook before moving on.

3:00 p.m. After enjoying a leisurely lunch and movie, I am ready to settle in for the afternoon and start on Tokyo Year Zero. I had hoped to get to it earlier in the week, but my reading time was next to nil most of the week. Too much other stuff going on, I am afraid. Note to self: make more reading time during the week.

Before I go, I thought I would share a little bookish office chat with you.
  • Talk in the office turned again to installing a television set in the breakroom. Someone was quick to point out, "Oh no! Wendy and Candy like to read in there!" Out of an office with over 50 people, it is nice to know that two of us can have such an influence. I actually have nothing against having a television set up in the breakroom, although it would be distracting if something I wanted to watch was on. And if it got too loud and the weather was cooperating (meaning not too hot out), I could always go sit in my car during my lunch break and read.
  • The backseat of my car is actually quite comfortable for lunch time reading.
  • A half hour lunch break is not very much time to settle into a book. When given the choice though of a longer lunch or leave early, I choose to leave early.
  • One of the most common questions I am asked during my lunch break at the office is, "What are you reading?" I always have to consider who is asking me that question before answering. Some people really do not care and are just trying to be polite, but those who show a genuine interest may spark off an interesting discussion, and you know how much I enjoy talking about books.
  • I have this bad habit of mentioning that the book was better when my workmates are discussing movies they have recently seen (if in fact I have read the book and seen the movie in question). Most of the time, they had no idea that the movie in question was based on a book nor do they particularly care. It is one of my annoying tics.
  • I especially take pleasure in doing the above with one particular coworker of mine who hates to read. He believes reading is a waste of time, not to mention mind numbing. Truth be told, I think he would benefit greatly from reading. Especially when it comes to the work he's supposed to be reviewing as part of his job.
  • I am the go to person in the office for book recommendations and knowing what might be age appropriate for younger reading audiences. It is not so much that I've read or know about every book out there, but thanks to all of you, I often can offer up a suggestion in most book related conversations.
  • My boss is a reader. You may remember that she is the one who loaned me a copy of Alice Sebold's Almost Moon but refused to tell me whether she liked it or not, afraid it would influence my own opinion of the book. I loaned her a copy of Me & Emma by Elizabeth Flock a couple of months ago, which she recently returned. She loved it just as I knew she would.
  • My boss sometimes will ask me if I want to borrow a book and then will pause and say, "Oh, you have too much to read already, don't you? Never mind." If only she knew just how much.
  • I like it when people return books I've loaned out to them. I wish though that people were more careful about the condition they return the book in. Me & Emma was brand new when I handed it over. It definitely looked used upon its return. Wear and tear on a book is expected, I know, but just after one reading? And a book that doesn't belong to you? I know. I have high expectations.
  • There are some coworkers who are on my black list and will never read another book I own. They can buy their own copy or steal someone else's.
  • Two women I work with, however, can borrow any book they like from me.
  • Candy is an avid reader herself and we often exchange books. She has good taste.
  • The other is Debra. When I first loaned her Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild, she warned me that she is a slow reader. I told her not to worry, that I was in no hurry to get the book back. She has had the book since before the holidays and just about every time she seems me, she gives me an update, apologizes for taking so long (which really isn't necessary, but still thoughtful), and promises she'll get it back to me just as soon as she is done.
  • Debra also told me that the book will be just like new when it is returned to me because she knows how much she hates it when things she loans out are returned in worse condition than they went out in.
  • Reading was not always so popular in my office. I have been able to watch the planted seed bloom into beautiful blossoms over the last three years. People who never would have thought to read for pleasure are now doing so. I love it! (For the record, it had nothing to do with me.)
I have prattled on long enough, I think. It is time to curl up with Tokyo Year Zero and see where David Peace will take me. You will be happy to know that the rain finally came my way last night and has kept me company off and on all day. What better soundtrack while reading, than the fall of rain outside?

Happy reading!


  1. This was a great post - and very poignant for me! I am the "avid" reader in my department though one of my co-workers does read (just not as frequently as me). They all look at me like I sprouted a third eye when I mention books that movies are based on. They really don't care either. =)

  2. I always write my reviews before starting the next book too - I like putting the period at the end of the sentence :) And it is not a chore - I enjoy it. Just another thing we have in common!

    I loved reading the second part of your post - it was great fun :)

  3. At my current job, the IT guy who shares my cubicle noted how many books he'd seen me with since the year started, and that got us talking about the sort of books we like to read. Thanks to him I might finally get a start on Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series.

    I haven't yet made inroads on launching book discussions with other co-workers, but I've noticed which jobs I go to promote reading during downtimes and which don't. Definitely take advantage of the downtimes where reading is obviously approved of...

  4. I enjoyed reading your post. I have become extremely reluctant to loan my books out because they usually don't return, or do so in worse shape. The only exception is, of course, my husband! I get nervous when he carries them to work, because he is rather careless with books. But I like to be able to discuss a book with him (he mostly reads periodicals, not books) so I loan him whatever he wants.

  5. Me too. I usually try to post a review after reading a book since I have a short memory, haha.

  6. I don't usually get to write up my reviews immediately after I finish a book - and I usually can't wait until after that's done to start my next one - but I do try to get them done within a few days, before I start forgetting things. :-)

    I enjoyed learning about your reading life at the office. I always have a book at work with me, but since I tend to stay at my desk most of the time I'm rarely seen with one. We only get a half-hour lunch too - and I'd just as soon work through it and leave early myself, given the opportunity!

  7. It was fun reading about how books fit in at your office. I'm a careful reader so I too hate it when books come back to me damaged. I'd probably feel compelled too to tell the co-worker who hates reading that the book was better than the movie. hehe!

  8. Jill - Thank you. :-) I definitely am more book crazy than anyone else in the office. I imagine some people think I am a bit over the edge too.

    Wendy - That's it exactly!

    The Captain - I have only recently become brave enough to break out a book when work is really slow at the office. I'm so programmed that work time is only meant for getting my work done, but in my current position there are times when there is literally nothing to do, although not many. Those under me are much more lucky and have more time to spend reading in between work.

    I have never worked in an office before with so many readers, even if they don't quite share my passion in reading and books, and so this has been really great.

    Jeane - I really thought I could trust the coworker I loaned a couple of books too (one I never saw again and the other I only got back because another coworker had been reading it and saw my name inside) because I'd told her now anal I can be about my books. I guess she forgot or wasn't listening. Never again. I've learned my lesson with my boss as well!

    Husband are hard to say no to, aren't they? Especially when they want to read one of our books. :-)

    Melody - Speaking of posting reviews, I need to post a few. I have the reviews written, but I just haven't gotten around to posting them yet!

    Florinda - I wish I could stay at my desk during my lunch break. That would make things so much easier. Unfortunately, I am in high demand and if I stay at my desk, I will get no privacy. No one respects my out to lunch sign. LOL Even when I tell them outright that I'm on lunch and not seeing anyone, some of them will keep talking as if I hadn't said anything. I have to get away.

    Sometimes I do need a little distance between me and the book I've just read, and so I'll write a basic review and then go back to it later. Starting a new book before I'm ready to move on though isn't so easy for me. And moving on means having my review wrapped up. I just feel like my reading experience is incomplete otherwise. I'm strange that way. :-)

    Tanabata - The coworker who hates reading enjoys movies quite a bit and so he gives me a lot of fodder to work with. ;-)

  9. Your comment about keep a journal is interesting. I used to teach an undergrad module where one of the assignments was keeping a reading journal. At the onset of the module the students were completely flummoxed. They had no idea how to go about it and really hated the whole idea. But this was a vocational degree, so no journal, no job! By the end of the module most of them were saying that this was now something they would continue for the rest of their lives. How true that would turn out to be is another matter, but it does indicate just how much they had come to value the reflective process when it came to appreciating a novel.

  10. Great post Wendy. It is wonderful that you made such an impact on your office. I too am reluctant to lend out books - I never seem to get them back!

  11. My own brother banned me from borrowing his books because somehow they kept ending up in my library. (Although originally, because I would do things like sunbathe while reading a paperback of his. This is not recommended.) (I'm better about both now.) But I still don't borrow books much from other than the library. And I'm careful with them.

    The books usually ARE better than the movie. How can they not be? He doesn't read? What does he think books are, anyway? Philistine.

  12. Table Talk - The only journal I had to keep in school in relation to reading was for my sophomore high school class. We had to keep track of analogies and common themes. I hated it from start to finish. That wasn't the kind of journal I wanted to keep. I like your assignment much better. :-)

    I've always liked keeping a journal for various things, although I was never very faithful until I started keeping a personal reading journal. I really do think it's improved the way I read and think about what I am reading. Reading is much more meaningful for me, I think.

    Jaimie - I'm not sure how much of an impact I have made on my office, but I do know everyone knows I'm a bit of a book freak. Haha

    I always intend to be more careful about loaning out my books, but when someone shows an interest, I get so excited that I want to share. :-(

    Carrie K - Hehe That's hilarious! I'm actually rougher on books than my husband is and I can sometimes see him getting nervous when I'm holding one of his comic books or graphic novels the "wrong way".

    He really doesn't read. Or so he says. Before he knew I was a reader, he made a comment one day about what a waste of time and energy reading was, going so far as to say it was mind numbing. I accept that some people are not readers. I don't like it when people put down those who do like to read though.

  13. I know just what you mean about wanting to write reviews before starting the next book. I always try to do that too, or to at least write down my thoughts in the form of little notes that I will later expand to a full-length review. I feel that if I don't do that, I am not truly done when the book in question, and I won't be as open to the new one as I should be.

    I'm always extra careful with borrowed books, more so than with my own books. It just feels so wrong to damage the property of another. Of course, like you I've had books I've lent returned to me in a much worse state than they were originally. I hated it, so I promised to myself I'd make sure I wouldn't do that to someone else.

  14. Hi Wendy, this post relates to me in so many ways. Thanks for sharing!

    I have quite a few bad experience with lending out books and never see them again. My heart ached when that happened and I'm not a person to keep reminding people about the books they borrowed. I just wish they would be courteous enough to return them.

    A few months into my new job, I'm already known as the reader. Hehe. My colleagues know I read in the morning during breakfast and during lunch. It's hard to find people who can discuss books... It does seem like reading is an odd thing to do. I beg to differ.

  15. Nymeth - Exactly! That is exactly how I feel about it and what I do.

    I am very careful about borrowed books too, unless they are my husband's and then I treat them like my own. ;-) As you say, you want to treat the book like you would hope someone would treat the book you have loaned him or her. It makes perfect sense and yet the concept seems to be lost on some people.

    Alice - I really try and only loan out books that I won't miss terribly much if I never see them again, but it still bothers me when I'm expecting a book to come back and it doesn't. If I wanted to give the book away, I'd say so, right?

    Two of my coworkers were huddled together this afternoon like they were sharing a secret. I happened by and overheard a snippet of their conversation. They were talking about John Grisham's books. I had to smile at that. It's good to hear people around me talking about books. :-)

  16. I enjoyed this post, and am thinking of adopting the Sunday Salon too, as I'm incredibly slack at writing about what I'm reading!
    Yes, I too ALWAYS inform people that the book is better than the movie. It drives everyone crazy but gives me a perverse pleasure.


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