Last November, Reader Extraordinaire Anne Bogel shared a list of 100 things she knows to be true about herself as a reader. As a fellow reader and list-making enthusiast, I LOVED this idea, and began compiling a list of my own. I doubted I would get to one hundred items, but found I had no problem doing so. I’m sharing that list with you today—separated, of course, into a few categories.
MY READERLY BEGINNINGS
1. Many of my earliest memories involve reading aloud with my parents.
2. My mom and dad were my reading inspirations: they are both avid readers, whom I regularly saw reading for pleasure throughout my childhood. (My mom said that HER reading inspirations were her mom and her grandfather, who took her to bookstores and created a special reading nook for her when she was young. My dad became a reader after meeting my mom.)
3. Before my brother was born when I was six, the room that would become his bedroom was our “reading book room”: it held a couch and bookshelves, and my parents and I read there together every night.
4. When I was young, each story began with, “Badda Badda Day” (my kid-version of “Once Upon a Time”).
5. Beginning in preschool and well into my college years, my mom would read aloud to our family after every family meal.
7. I went through a stage in elementary school when I had trouble getting out of bed in the mornings, so my mom would read to me while I ate my breakfast in bed. (#spoiled!)
8. After every book we read together, my dad would ask me to “find the message.” (He did this with movies and tv shows and even commercials, too.) I still do that to this day.
9. I learned how to read on my own when I was in first grade.
10. On summer Friday mornings when I was in elementary school, my mom and I would drop my brother off at preschool and head to Carl’s Jr. or the mall food court, where we would read our books side-by-side over breakfasts of muffins and hot chocolate.
11. In elementary school, my mom and I read aloud together in her bed every night after dinner.
12. Reading was always my favorite subject in school, and SSR (Silent Sustained Reading) and teacher read-alouds were my favorite parts of the school day.
13. Our class visited the elementary school library each week, and I used my weekly checkouts to read through the entire Nancy Drew, Boxcar Children, and Baby-Sitters Club series.
14. I loved the quarterly book fairs at our elementary school because they meant that I could spend recess and lunchtime in the library looking through the books for sale. (The library was off-limits during recess the rest of the year.)
15. Nearly every summer growing up, I participated in at least one of the summer reading programs at one of our three local libraries.
16. My mom was always buying fifty-cent paperbacks from our library’s used book store, and our whole family would pass around those books (usually some sort of spy novel or legal thriller) before she would donate them back to the library.
17. In eighth grade, my mom introduced me to the Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot mysteries, my first “adult books,” and I have been hooked ever since.
18. I credit listening to Adventures in Odyssey tapes (and later CDs) on family road trips as the gateway to my audiobook addiction.
19. The only book I “Cliff Notes Cheated” (rather than read) in high school was A Tale of Two Cities.
20. I’m still proud of myself for making it through Moby Dick my junior year when the rest of my classmates only read the Cliff Notes.
21. In high school, I couldn’t take any AP English classes due to scheduling conflicts, but I still took and passed three AP English tests.
22. Because I tested out of English classes in college, I have never taken a college-level English or literature class (other than Children’s Literature required for my teaching degree). I deeply regret that now.
23. I loved reading magazines as a kid and teenager; favorites included Brio Magazine and copies of my parents’ Reader’s Digest (which I still like!).
24. I went through MANY years (from childhood and well into our marriage) when I almost exclusively read mysteries and thrillers.
25. Prior to the last ten years, I almost never read nonfiction.
26. My favorite genres are mystery/suspense, Christian living, and thoughtful contemporary fiction.
27. These days, my favorite books tend to be character driven, with beautiful prose, heavy doses of philosophy, and enough plot to keep me interested.
28. I will read almost any genre, but haven’t had much luck with science fiction, epic fantasy, true crime, horror, or formulaic romance.
29. Things I strongly dislike in my books: excessive and unnecessary swearing; open-door bedroom scenes; lack of proper punctuation; teenage angst; and predictable storylines.
30. I’m a sucker for books about books, books with parallel timelines/alternate universes, and books with unique plot structures and formats.
31. Some of my favorite books are picture books.
32. I enjoy reading through cookbooks for pleasure.
33. Long-time favorite authors include Agatha Christie, Frank Peretti, and John Grisham.
34. Authors whose latest books I am always excited to read are Fredrik Backman, Gillian Flynn, Emily P. Freeman, Lisa Genova, Jane Harper, Julie Klassen, Liane Moriarty, Maggie O’Farrell, Louise Penny, and Amor Towles.
35. I will read anything I can get my hands on about the Enneagram and other personality frameworks.
36. I am oddly interested in nonfiction titles that have no relevance to me (such as business books, or parenting books I know won’t mesh with my parenting style).
37. I am afraid to reread books I have loved in the past because I worry they won’t hold up to my memory of them.
38. I am intimidated by big books: if it’s more than 400 pages or longer than twelve listening hours, I probably won’t read it.
BOOK FORMATS AND TENDENCIES
39. I always enjoy books I read with my eyes more than the books I listen to.
40. If it’s a book I’m especially excited about, I will only read it on Kindle or in print (not audio).
41. I’ve frequently begun listening to a book that I liked too much to “waste” on an audiobook, and switched format mid-read.
42. When I’m not loving a book I’m reading on Kindle or in print, I will occasionally switch over to audiobook to get through it more quickly.
43. Depending on the book and reading speed, I usually listen to audiobooks at 1.25x and up to 1.75 speed.
44. I started reading on a Kindle (six years ago) because it was easier than propping a book up on the gym elliptical, where I did most of my reading at the time.
45. I’ll read on the Kindle app on my phone in a pinch, but try to limit ebook reading to my Kindle Paperwhite.
46. Though I still love reading physical books, I’ve grown to prefer ebooks because they are cheaper and easier to come by and they take up less space, plus they make it easier for me to access my notes and highlights.
47. I am an obsessive book-highlighter and margin-note-taker (in Kindle and in physical books), but I never dog-ear pages.
48. I’ve been known to use anything from soda bottle caps to scraps of toilet paper as bookmarks when I lose my fancy ones.
49. I believe firmly that it is okay to DNF a book . . . but have a hard time practicing what I preach.
50. In addition to two devotional books I’m reading through this year (plus the Bible), I’m almost always reading at least four books: an audiobook, a nonfiction ebook or print book, a fiction ebook or print book, and a chapter book with Charleston.
51. I usually do my nonfiction reading during daytime hours (when nursing the twins, eating lunch, or lying with Charleston when he goes to bed) and my fiction reading at nighttime.
52. When reading a classic or particularly literary book, I like to follow along with Spark Notes.
53. I regularly peek at the last few pages of a mystery or thriller to spoil the ending for myself.
54. I love reading other people’s book reviews, but usually only after I’ve read the book myself.
FINDING, CHOOSING, AND STORING BOOKS
56. Most of my nonfiction recommendations come through authors I hear interviewed on podcasts.
58. I rarely buy books for myself, and when I do, I almost never pay full price.
59. When I’m interested in a book, I add it to an Amazon list and wait for the ebook to go on sale before purchasing.
60. I have four collections of books on my Kindle: Read, To Read Fiction, To Read Nonfiction, and Reference (books I’ve read and will want to refer back to).
61. We limit the books on our physical shelves to mostly nonfiction/reference titles and a VERY few favorite novels.
62. Not counting Luke’s books, I have five(ish) unread books on my bookshelves (aka my physical TBR).
63. This minimalist approach does not apply to picture books, of which we have several hundred that fill shelves in the kids’ rooms and our playroom.
64. I enjoy tracking my reading almost as much as I love reading itself.
65. I put a LOT of thought into my star ratings and am constantly assessing what a book’s final rating will be as I read.
66. My rating system: 5 stars = I loved it; 4 stars = I really liked it; 3 stars = it was okay, but probably wouldn’t recommend; 2 stars = I really didn’t like it; 1 star = I hated it (I rarely have these because I quit books early on if I know I’ll hate them).
68. For Evernote Tracking, I make a new note for each year’s books. The list includes each book’s title, finish date, author, the book format (audiobook, ebook, or print), whether the book is fiction or nonfiction, and my star rating.
69. I have a nearly identical list recorded in my paper bullet journal (title, date finished, author, book format, fiction/nonfiction, star rating).
70. On Pinterest, I create a new board for each year’s books, with titles organized by star rating.
71. In my Day One records, I write a full review that I later polish up for Quick Lit posts.
72. This year I have begun posting full book reviews to Goodreads after the reviews have appeared on my blog.
73. I won’t let myself start a new book before recording and writing a review of the book I’ve just finished. Sometimes I delay finishing a book because I don’t have time to write a review.
74. It’s easier for me to review a book I didn’t like than one that I loved.
READING IN COMMUNITY
75. My Dad wrote and published books for both my brother and me, given to us upon our graduations. Mine is a personal journaling through the whole Bible. (It of course is the most special book I own.)
76. When we were dating, Luke and I spent many of our dates reading aloud together in coffee shops and at book stores. Books that Luke and I read together included the Chronicles of Narnia series, a handful of C.S. Lewis devotionals, Frankenstein (on our honeymoon), and SEVERAL relationship books.
77. Luke and I no longer read aloud together, but we frequently read the same books simultaneously and discuss them afterwards.
78. Reading with Charleston is my favorite thing that we do together. We read during school time, periodically throughout the day, and at bedtime (when we read three picture books, a Bible story, and a chapter from a read-aloud).
79. I don’t read with the twins NEARLY as often as I’d like because they are more interested in turning the pages than listening to the story.
80. I regularly comment on books I see people reading in waiting rooms and on park benches.
81. Giving personal book recommendations is one of my very favorite things.
82. It’s hard for me to get through a conversation without referencing a book, usually one I’m currently reading.
83. Books are my favorite item to gift, to both children and adults.
84. I miss the book club I was a part of in California, and wish I could find a similar one now.
85. An early reader’s version of A Little Princess is the first book I remember staying up all night long to finish (by the light of a book lamp).
86. I’ve read the Bible cover-to-cover at least four times, finishing my first read-through when I was in junior high school (it took me four years).
87. The Giver was my first dystopian novel and forever changed my understanding of society and government.
88. No mystery will ever live up to And Then There Were None, which I first read sprawled out on my grandparents’ couch when I was in eight grade.
89. I resisted reading the Harry Potter books until a friend lent me the first book (the summer before my junior year in high school) and refused to let me return it unread; I eventually read it at a family summer camp on Catalina island and was hooked!
90. To Kill a Mockingbird was my favorite book that we read in high school, and it’s still one of my favorite books of all time.
91. John Grisham’s The Chamber is responsible for changing my stance on the death penalty.
92. Peretti’s The Prophet was my first exposure to the media’s relationship to politics and public policy (and also the first book that exposed me to the realities of abortion).
93. This Present Darkness, also by Frank Peretti, opened my eyes to the world of spiritual warfare.
94. The Hiding Place is the most inspirational book I’ve ever read. Corrie ten Boom is my hero and we considered naming our daughter after her.
95. Early in our marriage I taught myself how to cook by studying and cooking through the copy of Anyone Can Cook that I received as a bridal shower gift.
96. Luke and I both cite Love and Respect as our favorite and most helpful relationship book.
97. I never fully understood the trinity until reading The Shack.
98. During the single faith crisis of my life (in early 2014), I listened to John Ortberg’s Faith and Doubt on repeat; after several times through, I was back on solid ground with my belief in God.
99. I read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People during my first year as a mom, and it gave me hope and purpose for pushing through my postpartum depression.
100. Other than the Bible, I Love You Forever is my very favorite book of all time.
Okay, now it’s your turn! What are one, two, three, or even one hundred things you know about you and YOUR life as a reader? I’d be honored if you would consider sharing some of your list with me!