Speed Reading

speed-readingI have a bit of a book problem.

When we were preparing to go on our cruise, one of the things we packed were some books to read.  I pictured leisurely days spent sitting by the pool with nothing to do but read and that worried me.  However, it didn’t worry me because I hate reading.  In fact, I love it.  To me, there is almost nothing better than losing yourself in a good book.  I have this knack for sort of melting into the book.  The entire world around me dissolves, I can’t hear anything else, and all that exists is the book.  No, what worried me was running out of reading material.

You see, I’m a quick reader.  When I’m reading something that I like, I tear through it.  When I was in school, we’d be assigned to read chapters 1 – 5 and I’d read the entire 20 chapter book.  Then, I’d have to try to remember what happened in the first five chapters so I didn’t answer questions using knowledge from chapter 9.  Often, I’d just re-read it a second time and a third time until the class caught up with me.  I’ve been known to devour whole books in a day’s time so the idea of seven days of reading time meant possibly needing a dozen books, not one or two.

The first book I chose was Nobody Gets The Girl by James Maxey.  The second one was the first book in the Percy Jackson series.  My oldest son had been reading this series and loved it.  I’ve long been a fan of Greek mythology so a series that seemed like “Harry Potter Meets Greek Myths” seemed perfect.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get much reading time during the cruise.  There was just too much to do during the cruise to sit around reading a book.  On the bus ride back, though, I poured through Nobody Gets The Girl and finished before the bus arrived at our stop.  Nearly an entire book read in about 3 hours’ time.

During Rosh Hashanah, I had some down time and was feeling bored.  I decided to read something and settled on the first Percy Jackson book.  I poured through half of it quickly and finished it up a couple of days later.  On Friday, I began book 2 and finished that up before Saturday was over.  Book 3 was a problem, though.  That’s the book my son is currently reading.  He takes that book to school to read during free times.  I didn’t want to take his copy from him or have him possibly lose my spot in the book.  B suggested taking the Kindle version out.

If you didn’t know, many libraries have deals with Amazon.  You can take Kindle versions of books out from the library and read them on your Kindle devices (or any device with the Kindle app – which is pretty much any device) as if you bought it.  The only difference is that the rented Kindle books automatically remove themselves when the book is due.  It can be quite convenient over repeated trips to the library.

B took out Book 3 and I began it on Sunday morning.  Soon, I had overtaken where NHL had read up to.  Not long after that, I finished the book.  I grabbed NHL’s physical copy of Book 4 but reading it was slow going.  There are times when I prefer physical books and times when I prefer eBooks.  This time, the eBooks just felt better to me.  B took Book 4 out of the library and asked me if she should take Book 5 out as well while she was at it.  I told her not to because Book 4 would probably take me awhile with work coming up soon.

How wrong I was.

As I write this (on Sunday night), I just read the last words on the last page of Book 4 in the Percy Jackson series.  That’s right, I’ve read 2 books in one day.  The next book is the last one in this series, but then there are five more books in a related series written by the same author.  I have a feeling that, by the time this week is done, I’ll be midway through that series.

As far as my boys go, JSL is just like me.  After a shaky start where he didn’t like reading, he has taken to reading like a son of Poseidon to water.  (Sorry, I couldn’t help putting in a Percy Jackson reference there.)  JSL rips through book series after book series.  He will complain if we go on even the shortest of car rides without a book for him to read.

NHL, on the other hand, varies when it comes to reading.  He’ll complain a lot if we tell him to read over playing video games or watching TV.  However, if there’s a book he’s interested in, he’ll rip through the entire thing at a speed that makes me proud while understanding the entire thing.  (Reading speed means nothing if there’s no comprehension to go along with it.)  I just hope that his love of reading flourishes more as he grows.

As a geek, I’ll admit to loving video entertainment.  I’ll dutifully await the next episode of a beloved television series, will stand in line for a move that I’ve been looking forward to, and will play way too many hours of video games when I have the chance.  However, my enjoyment of all of those pales in comparison to the joy I get when I open a new book, get hooked by the writing, and feel myself being pulled into the story until I look up and realize I’ve read half the book and hours have passed.  There’s just something magical about books.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to tear through the final book in the Percy Jackson series.

Expanding My Skillset

wordpress_bookIf there’s one thing that working in IT has taught me, it’s that learning is never over.  The minute you stop learning, your value to potential employers drops dramatically.  Instead, one must constantly expand one’s horizons and learn new things.

Recently, my company bought me some books on WordPress and web development.  Though I know how to work in WordPress, these covered areas I had never gotten involved in but meant to such as developing themes and plugins from scratch.

One day, during a very rare end-of-day lull, I decided to crack open "WordPress Plugin Development Cookbook."  Within minutes, I had the basics down and was developing my own plugin.  No, it wasn’t fully functional, but the path to that was laid before me and it looked like it was a short path indeed.

Now my head is buzzing with WordPress plugin ideas (both for work and as side projects).  I can’t wait to apply the knowledge I’ve already gained and I can"t wait to finish the book and gain even more knowledge.

Do you often make it a point to learn new things?  If so, what have you learned recently?

Reading Ahead

reading_aheadFor as long as I can remember, I’ve read ahead.  When a teacher would tell us to reach chapter’s one through four, I’d go home and finish chapter twenty.  I would get absorbed into the story and unable to stop.  It would get a little tricky answering questions in class as I would need to remember just what had happened in the assigned chapters.  My speed reading didn’t mean that I wasn’t understanding the book, mind you.  It just meant that the teacher wouldn’t accept an answer from chapter seven if we were only supposed to read up to chapter four.  Sometimes, I would even read the book a second time, lapping the class entirely.

More recently, my book reading has slowed down.  Perhaps I’m getting finickier with age, perhaps it is just my limited free time, or perhaps my reading has simply shifted to online articles.  Whatever the reason, I don’t read as much.  When I do read, though, I still tend to tear through the books.  I read The Bloggess’ bookLet’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) in about a week and Year Zero‘s 357 pages went by in a mere two days.

While I love reading to my boys, I do find it a bit difficult from time to time.  Take my most recent reading project with NHL, for example.  We’re reading the entire Harry Potter series.  I’ve seen all of the films, but hadn’t read any of the books.  NHL had seen the first two movies, but hadn’t read the books.  We made a rule that he could only see the next movies once we had read the book for that movie.  So we read the first two books, a little bit every night, and slowly got to the point where he could see the third movie.  We’re currently reading the fifth book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

As I’m reading to him, however, I need to slow my pace down.  I can’t zip from page to page at my usual speed as I wouldn’t be able to keep up reading the words to him.  (He’s usually too tired, by this point in the day, to do any reading himself.  When he reads by himself, he can be just as speedy as me.)  For the longest time, I resisted reading ahead, but I just gave in.  I now have two bookmarks in the book.  The first indicates where NHL and I are.  The second shows where I’ve read to.  Eventually, I’ll finish the book and move on to the next one.  NHL will catch up to me, I’m sure, but it might take awhile.

Do you read books rapidly or do you go through them at a slower pace?

The Movie Was Totally Ruined By The Book

The Movie Was Totally Ruined By The BookOnce upon a time, an author named J.K. Rowling wrote a series of books about a young wizard named Harry Potter.  After a few of her books sold an insane number of copies, some movie companies thought they would make wonderful movies.  (READ: Would sell tons of tickets, DVDs, movie tie-in toys, etc.)  So movies were made and released.

B, having read the books, begged me to see the movies.  I watched them initially because it was important to her, but quickly grew interested in the stories I saw on-screen.  However, for whatever reason, my love of the screen adventures didn’t translate to me reading the books.  We had all 7 books sitting in a box, but I didn’t read a single page.

Fast forward a bit and we introduced NHL to the first movie: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  He fell in love with it instantly and soon we had also shown him Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets as well.  At this point, we made a decision.  He would see no more Harry Potter movies!  Not until he had read the book that the movie was based on.  Every night, NHL and I would sit down and read a few pages of a Harry Potter book.

As we got through the first two books, we would often stop and discuss how the book was different than the movie.  What scenes were longer in the book or omitted entirely in the movie?  What characters were left out?  How were events altered to fit the big screen?

NHL and I recently finished Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, so we’ve 1) started reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and 2) watched the Goblet of Fire movie.  I remember really liking this movie and sensing the peril that Harry is put through.  However, upon re-watching it after reading the book, I felt that it was rushed.

Harry and his friends go to see the Quidditch World Cup.  The players fly out onto the field and then… we flash back to their camp site post-game.  This was just fine when I didn’t know that the book described the entire game.  There were wondrous sights in the pages of the book that I’d have loved to have seen on the screen.

In addition, whole subplots were chopped out.  In the book, Rita Skeeter is a major thorn in the side of Harry and his friends.  Her stories, and how she obtains them, puts Harry through a lot of grief.  In the movie, however, she’s regulated to one major appearance, two minor appearances, and a mention or two.

Now that I’ve read the book, the movie feels like a faithful rendition… were half of the book ripped out and tossed away.  I still like the movie, don’t get me wrong and  I understand that you can’t make the movie 100% like the book.  (Otherwise, Goblet of Fire would be a 10 hour long movie and who would sit through that?!!!)  Still, I can’t help but miss the discarded sections, subplots, and characters when the movie skips by them.

Curse you Harry Potter books! You’ve totally ruined the Harry Potter movies for me!

Have you ever read a book after seeing a movie based on it?  How did the movie hold up after you read the book?

Note: The "book/movie" image above was created by combining the "Book" image from CrazyTerabyte and the "Cinema" image from Merlin2525.  Both of these images are available from OpenClipArt.com.

The Other Woman In Our Bed

There’s another woman in our lives and her name is Kimberly.  We met Kimberly just eleven short days ago and she’s already turned our routine upside down.  Before Kimberly, B used to knit or browse on her computer at night until she fell asleep. Lately, when it comes time for bed, B snuggles under the covers with Kimberly until she (B, that is) falls asleep.  I will find them there laying side by side and I will need to move Kimberly out of the way before I can get into bed.  I get a bit of time with Kimberly also, but mostly B has claimed her for herself.

In many ways, I just can’t compete with Kimberly.  She’s much thinner than I am.  Than I’ll ever be.  And the stories she tells!  I have about ten stories I can tell.  Ask me to tell more and I begin to repeat myself.  Kimberly, last time I counted, had over fifty.  She’s pretty decent at games too.

So who is this invader of our home and our bed?  What does she look like?  Here’s a photo:


This, ladies and gentlemen, is Kimberly Kindle.

See how thin she is?  We’ve already loaded her up with 50 eBooks and a few games like Jigsaw Words.

But why name an electronic device?  B started it by saying she wanted to come up with a name for our video camera.  I agreed that it needed a female’s name.  I had my reasoning.  (Let’s just say that I argued that the cheap, Flip-style camera we also had needed a male name.)

Meanwhile, I had won a Kindle Keyboard and we both took to it.  Except B seemed to claim it as her own.  With the video camera getting a name, it seemed only natural to give the Kindle one as well.  And as I’m a fan of alliteration, Kimberly seemed to fit perfectly.

And that’s how Kimberly Kindle invaded our lives.  Maybe tonight, I’ll change things up by laying down on the couch with Kimberly and having some fun… reading Peter and Wendy, that is!

Do you have a Kimberly Kindle (or perhaps her cousin Nancy Nook) in your life?

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