Friday, April 15, 2011

The wonderful world of reading and #fridayreads

I love books. My wife can confirm that statement.

And I love reading books. My wife is now laughing and mocking me.

Since we were married in 2005, I have read fewer than ten books straight through, from first page to last. These would include "Isaac's Storm" by Erik Larson, "Candyfreak" by Steve Almond, "The World Without Us" by Alan Weisman, and "World War Z" by Max Brooks.1

My wife calls me a Browser. Five pages of this book. Ten pages of that book. The middle portion of another book.

I treat my bookshelves like the Internet, "hyperlinking" around from the one book's foreword to another book's index to another book's Chapter 8. And I'll lean more toward selections that allow for this type of browsing. Things like the Cecil Adams compilations, Roger Ebert's many collections of movie reviews, Chuck Klosterman's essays, miscellanies, and encyclopedias.2 (Also, a ton of newspaper and magazine articles. Nice, short and easily finished.)

But I'm trying to change. To get back to being that guy who -- before slogging through 60-hour workweeks, raising a daughter and a having huge yard that needs mowed -- could finish a book every one-to-two weeks. I want to find a better balance in my reading habits3 and get back to the days when I could start and finish a book in less time than it takes the Pittsburgh Pirates to complete a 95-loss season.

Part of what inspires me is FridayReads.

FridayReads is a Twitter phenomenon. It's this simple: Every Friday, you sign onto your Twitter account, type the name of the book you're currently reading, add the hashtag #fridayreads, and hit enter. (If you're not on Twitter, there's a FridayReads Facebook page where you can participate.)

Here is my #fridayreads tweet for today.

Every Friday, thousands of people tell the Twitterverse what they're reading. It gets bigger every week. And everyone can follow the #fridayreads hashtag to see what everyone else is reading and get hundreds of new recommendations.

Reading recommendations gone viral!

Oh, and you might win groovy prizes simply by tweeting each Friday with the #fridayreads hashtag. Can't beat that.

A couple other things:
  • You might want to follow @thebookmaven on Twitter. She maestros the event, issues friendly reminders and keeps score on how many people have tweeted each Friday. (2012 Update: Actually, just go ahead an follow @FridayReads on Twitter now, instead of the aforementioned account.)
  • FridayReads has an excellent blog, where you can learn more about how it all works and see lists of which books are getting the most mentions each week.
FridayReads reminds me that there's so much more I want to find the time to read. My to-read list is already growing and includes "The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet" by David Mitchell, "West of Here" by Jonathan Evison, "The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood" by James Gleick, and "The Golden Age" by Michael Ajvaz.

Now I just need to get busy! First up: Finishing "The Big Short".

And then Tweeting it.

1. Yes, I like zombies.
2. For example, the 1,088-page "The Encyclopedia of Fantasy" by John Clute and John Grant.
3. A great and inspiring example of changing one's reading habits can be found at The Book Lady's Blog and her Year of Deliberate Reading in 2010.


  1. I know how you feel. For the past few years I've usually had 8-10 books going at a time, never even bookmarked, and the onset of this habit roughly coincided with my first pregnancy. Being scatterbrained was a new thing for me... I used to go through a huge novel every week when I was younger and more focused.

    Follow Friday and readalongs are a big help. Not only do they provide excellent recommendations, but accountability and a little dash of competitiveness!

  2. I've been filling out my #fridayreads for awhile now, but didn't know about the blog. I had wondered if @thebookmaven was doing anything interesting with the tagged data.