On Reading Styles

I have been thinking a lot about reading styles lately. Most of the people in my life are Readers! (capital “R” and exclamation point required) But, they all have very different styles of reading, and different book collection habits.

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So, I hereby introduce my own Categorization of Readers:

1. The Mainliner:  This reader voraciously moves from one book to another at an incredible pace. He may intake a variety of topics/genres, but focuses intensely on one book at a time. But he plows through it and onto the next faster than most people finish lunch.

2. The Smorgasbord: This reader has a huge appetite for a wide range of subjects, and refuses to limit himself. He regularly has between 3 and 10 books he is reading simultaneously and selects between them at any given moment based on mood. As such, some of the books are never actually finished, but remain permanently “on pause” as other books move ahead of them in line.

3. The Deep Dive: This reader is focused on one subject area or genre specifically and consumes multiple books on that subject area before moving on topically. This reader may also have supplemental materials and other references within the chosen category and refer back to them, or pause to compare, reference, and fact-check while reading. (This type of reading tends to be concentrated around mostly academic areas, historical events, or trade/hobby focused)

4. The Fashionista: This reader reads what is fashionable, when it is fashionable. They select books based on top ten lists, recommendations from friends, subjects in the news, and soon-to-be-released movies. This is not to be mistaken for pure frivolity. For example, reading up on the wall street crash or the Arab Spring in order to have a better grasp on the news of the day would fall into this category every bit as much as reading the latest tell-all of a celebrity fallen from grace. This reader likes to read what is relevant, while it is relevant. They only tend to “backtrack” and read something from a couple of years ago when the effect of having not read it leaves a social gap – excluding the person from conversations and references.

5. Tandem Readers: These readers choose materials based on a relationship to another reader. This category includes book clubs, best friends recommendations, and reading lists specific to a group, ie. grad student summer reading lists.

I have to confess that Bruce and I are both a combination of “Smorgasbord” and “Deep Dive” readers. We both tend to be constantly reading several different things at once, but within that, also heavily focused on a few particular areas of interest. Bruce is heavily into philosophy, with a large smattering of modern literature. I am heavily focused on 15th and 16th century European history, with a lot of variety relief pitchers lined up for less-focused nights.

We also have developed a tandem reading habit together. One of our favorite habits as a couple is that I work on projects (gardening, DIY, organizing the closest, etc.) and he reads aloud to me.  Bruce is a great reader, I think he should do books on tape professionally. And I love being entertained while “tasking” (not the same as multi-tasking).

How about you? Have I missed any categories? If so, leave me comments below, and also let me know what kind of reader you are!

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