In which I explain my OCD reading habits.


A Real Conversation with my Husband

Me: Sigh. You can only have 15 holds at the library at once.

Him: Heavy sigh.

Me: Can I put 15 holds on your—

Him: NO.

Backstory: According to Goodreads, I’m currently in the middle of eleven books. This includes one book of poetry, four books that are being held captive by the library and holds system, and five that I own. (Was very recently six, plus another library book, but I finished those.)

Anyhow… I was wanting to start Tiger’s Curse, because he bought it for me for Valentine’s Day (along with Sapphique, the sequel to Incarceron, which I loved so much I was tempted to buy Sapphique from the UK Amazon) (Yes, I know I’m lucky.) Then I made the mistake of explaining to him why I fall into the trap of reading more than one book at a time—generally either because one is slow but fascinating, I’ve misplaced the book, or yes, it needs to go back to the library and I haven’t finished it.

I then made the further mistake of explaining to him HOW I read multiple books at one time. Basically, I line whichever books I have up by order of date that I started them (This obviously does not include books taken back to the library unfinished. It does, however, include books that are misplaced.), and then I pick one book as the “A” book, or the Alpha book, I guess. What I mean by this, is that I pick a book that I can read straight through if I wish to, then whenever I want to turn to something else, there’s a set rotation I have to follow. The Alpha book is either a book that I’m particularly hooked to, or a book that I’m bribing myself through, because it’s interesting, but other books are far more interesting. After the Alpha book has been assigned, I read through the books in order, one chapter at a time. If the Alpha book isn’t super great, or great-but-not-insanely-greater-than-the-other-books, my reading pattern is decided for me. With letters assigned to titles for ease of explanation, it reads a bit like a complicated poetry scheme:

ABACADAEABACADAE, etc.

I have siderules, also. Of course. Because I’m just that crazy.

#1) Once a book is in Alpha position, it must stay there until it is completed. (For exceptions, see Rule #5)

#2) If there is no Alpha position, chapters read ABCDEABCDE, etc. (Yes, I know there’s still an A there, but now it’s just another letter.)

#3) In most cases* a book cannot be added unless another book is finished.

#4) No book can be moved to the Alpha position on its first round.  This means if I’m in the middle of a round when I start a new book, I must finish that round and read through another full round before the new book can be given the Alpha position. Except:

#5) Library books are automatically given Alpha position. This means that any book that was acting as Alpha now goes back into line. This is the only time an Alpha book can be taken away from its Alpha position without being finished. When the library book is finished, assuming the other book is not, it moves back into Alpha position.

#6) (This is a new one) These rules apply only to physical copies of books.

#6a) I am allowed to have ONE of each: 1) an audio book for when I’m doing stuff with my hands but my mind is free 2) a book on my phone to read when I have no other books available to me, and 3) an ebook on my computer.

#6b) I can use the same book for all three devices if I choose, but cannot read a secondary book on any of the devices, even if all three are the same.

*This rule excludes library books and long-time favorite authors’ new books.

Understandably, my husband demanded that I put a stop to the insanity. He withheld Tiger’s Curse from me until I at least get down to 3 books (physical… he agrees with me on the techie side of things, yay!) but I think I’ll let myself get down to two, and read two at once… that’s usually my goal, one Alpha, and one to string along… I don’t know.

Anybody else out there read in completely obsessive-compulsive ways?

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2 thoughts on “In which I explain my OCD reading habits.

    • Yeah.. I should let myself do that. I should learn to let go of books that don’t fully grip me, either… but I don’t. Maybe someday I will!

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