In other words, what change in behaviour, if any, does a particularly good book cause in you while you’re reading it?
For me: A good book is likely to be one which occasionally I HAVE to put down in order to let my brain process a particulat bit I’ve just read. It can be a clever joke, or clever concept, or clever reveal. But I just can’t carry on reading until I’ve stared up at the ceiling while my brain processes the information it’s just taken in.
It can also be a book I find it difficult to put down. But these days I find it alarmingly easy to put a book down.
Many (most) Discworld books have the stare-at-the-ceiling moments for me. So do many of the other books I’ve read.
Notable Discworld books that have so far failed to do this (or even engage me much beyond reading for the sake of reading) are Truckers, Diggers, Colour of Magic, Strata. But they are exceptions to the rules. I love Discworld. I’ve also loved David Mitchell’s books, (but I am struggling with Number9 Dream), JK Rowling, and Tom Rob Smith’s Child 44.
If it is really good - mind you this doesn’t happen to often - you will see me getting more exited (sitting up, smile on face, tapping fingers), but actually get more into it. I will start to read faster rather than puting it down and you will have to set of a bomb to pull my attention away from it (maybe a bit exagerated).
OK, Both of you. If someone did happen to be observing you, what outward signs would there be that you’re reading a particularly good book?
Where I read, if someone were observing me, I’d be pleased, or worried. Pleased if it’s someone who had my consent to be in my bedroom with me at night. Worried if it’s someone who didn’t.
They would notice a perfect opportunity to try to hold a conversation with me while I’m not interested in talking to them, spacing their sentences just right so I think they’re finished and start reading again only to have them say something else. Naturally this conversation must be filled with the most idiotic and inane things possible and structured entirely around getting me stuck on one paragraph for fifteen to twenty minutes of their rambling.
At least that’s what observers notice based on past experiences.
Just Some Guy I have a colleague like that. He waits until I’m reading one of the more lengthy, technical, important emails. And when I am, starts pestering me because he can’t open a file, or he can’t find an email, or he doesn’t know what to do when X happens, where X is something that has happened exactly the same way four hundred million times before.
Cats have their own characteristic version of this behaviour: A human reading a book needs to be nuzzled, or pestered for food, or the book itself looks like a particularly comfortable object to lie on.
If I’m reading something, you cannot get my attention. If the room catches fire, I won’t notice until the fire department drags me out. This is apparently common knowledge among my friends and relations.
That I’m reading VERY fast. I was waiting for a friend to get out of the shower, so I picked up an Artemius Fowl book out of curiosity. When I reemerged at the end, I discovered that she was sitting next to me on the smallish couch, waiting for me to finish reading. I hadn’t even noticed her sitting down.
To be fair, AF books are fairly quick reads, but also, friend knew that I was waiting on her to finish.
I know these people. They’re kind-hearted souls who see that you’re so bored that you’re reduced to reading to try to amuse yourself. So they try to rescue you by starting a conversation on some fascinating topic like the weather.
My husband and I met when we both had yucky retail jobs at the same place. I viewed lunchtime in the breakroom as my opportunity to get back to my “real life” (i.e. whatever book I was currently embroiled in) and avoid ALL HUMAN CONTACT WHATSOEVER. My husband (back then just some dude I vaguely knew) initially tried to make small talk when we took our lunch breaks at the same time, but eventually realized that it was pointless to try and rouse me, and devoted our mutual lunches to staring at my boobs while I read. Not much has changed.
I tend to walk around when I read…for that matter, I also tend to cook, eat, brush my teeth, or work on the computer while I read. If I could I’d read in the shower. You know I have a really good book when I’m doing any of those, because it means I can’t put it down for long.