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Mabuhay! I'm an Asian American writer (Back Kicks And Broken Promises, Abbott Press, 2012), martial artist and teacher who was born in The Philippines, raised in Hong Kong and ended up in New Jersey.

04 January, 2012

Reading Habits

During my time off from work, in addition to the holiday prepping and celebrating, I was able to really delve into my Twitter account, read posts and accompanying links without being rushed, and make new connections while promoting my upcoming debut novel, Back Kicks And Broken Promises. One of the connections I made was with another author and blogger who very kindly said he'd profile me in his blog's spotlight of new indie authors when my book's out. Naturally, I took him up on his offer and promised to send him a copy when my novel's ready.

Looking at his Twitter profile, he describes himself as an 'avid reader.' I like that and I have been called one myself. It got me to thinking, though. What is an 'avid reader' and am I one? As a writer and lover of books and words, I should be one I think. Primarily, I read for entertainment but, as a writer, I also read for research, style, motivation, inspiration and comparison.

These days, I'm reading Inheritance, the concluding book in Christopher Paolini's fantasy series that started with Eragon; Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See; Age Is Just A Number: Achieve Your Dreams At Any Stage In Your Life by Olympian Dara Torres; Legend by Marie Lu; and The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks. That's five books. The way I do it is by reading 15-20 (sometimes more) minutes a day of each book. There are some days when I read much more because I'm so drawn in. Other days, I don't get to some or any of them because I'm swamped and, to be completely honest, on some days I just want to sit on the sofa and catch up on something I've got on DVR or play a little FIFA 12 on my Wii. I finish everything I start reading but sometimes it takes me a long time to finish a book or two. I started Vikram Chandra's Sacred Games in 2009 and finished it just last autumn. In between I did start and finish other books (about 20) in a more reasonable time.

My wife, however, reads one book at a time. If she feels like she needs a break from it, she'll take one and go onto another book. She always goes back and finishes what she started but she'll jump around somewhat. Recently, though, I bought The Hunger Games. It was on sale so I jumped at buying it. I was going to anyway, at some point, but the sale price made me go ahead and buy it when I did even though I was already reading several books and didn't play on starting it until I was done with one of my current books. My wife, who also wanted to read it, picked it up and finished it in three days. She went on to buy Catching Fire and Mockingjay and devoured both of them within the remaining four days of the same week. Now she's back to the third Tattoo Girl book, which she'd started but had to put down after devouring the first two a few months ago because she needed a break from those characters. When she's done with that, she'll likely pick up Legend. After that, she might take a break from reading for a bit before jumping onto something else. She's also currently breezing through the Twilight books to get full appreciation of the nuances of the characters that aren't revealed in the movies.

So, I'm just curious. Which one of us is the avid reader? Are both of us? Or, is being an avid reader something that has neither a wrong nor a right way about it? Sometimes, as a writer, I feel like I'm supposed to be reading all the time and, perhaps, I should only be reading certain books - like those in the genre of my work in progress or by authors whose style, genre or tone my work is similar to.

From the writing workshops I've taken, the coolest bit of advice I got is that, while there are rules to writing, the rules can be broken. I suppose reading - and reading as a writer - follows the same approach. The other thing that all writers are told to do: JUST WRITE. I guess the same can be said for reading, too. JUST READ.

What are your reading habits? Are you an avid reader?

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