My 25 Reading Rules (Part One)

Woman Reading

Christians have the Bible, Jews have the Talmud, Muslims have the Koran, I have 50 reading and writing rules that bring me endless joys and sorrows, and that one day might even bring me immortality and posthumous satisfactions.

These reading rules sum up what I have learned about reading over the last 3 years, from the distant day in autumn when I began to teach myself English to write a story, to this day in July, when the prequel to my story has been written, though not yet edited.

I write these rules here to understand them better, for lately I feel that what is not written does not really exist.

25 Reading Rules

  1. Read everyday.
  2. Read after writing, not before.
  3. Create a reading list and follow it.
  4. Read in the daylight, and not at night when the light is poor.
  5. Read no more than one book a week.*
  6. When an audiobook** version is available, choose it over the e-book.***
  7. Read the best books first. (Best is subjective. For me, the best old books are those that have stood the test of time; the best modern books are those that are often mentioned and recommended by experienced readers and writers.)
  8. Read creatively, as a writer and not as a passive reader, sparking ideas from sentences and metaphors, and noting or recording all those ideas as they occur.
  9. When reading Shakespeare or the rest of the classical lot, or any archaic book, read the book at least twice to understand it well.
  10. Do not read a book preface before reading the story unless the preface is the author’s, or is short. Read the preface after reading the book.
  11. Do not read book reviews before reading the book. Read reviews after or not at all.
  12. Do not speed read. Read naturally, enjoying every word, every phrase, every sentence, every paragraph.
  13. Note down words you do not know and check them in the dictionary once you have finished reading the chapter or act. Do not stop the flow of the reading to check a word, unless without that word the sentence makes no sense.
  14. After reading a book read its Wikipedia page and its summary in the Oxford Companion to English Literature, read a brief author biography, note your thoughts on the book in a document called ‘On the books I’ve read’, and if possible, watch the movie. (Never watch the movie before reading the book!)
  15. Think about what you have read after you put down the book.
  16. Read widely across genres, and do not become the worshipper of a single writer.
  17. Do not scribe anything on the book you read, unless it’s a love note to a woman.
  18. Read the classics as e-books from the public domain and not as paperbacks, to save the trees.
  19. When reading paperbacks, smell the pages with the best sentences and remember the smell, and the sentences.
  20. Clean your books every other week, dusting them off, and rereading sentences from them.
  21. Reread your favorite books often. Speak the beautiful sentences out loud.
  22. Do not drop, stain, tear, rip, or mark your paperbacks. A book is a precious thing.
  23. Do not forget the books you read. Think about them often. Call them ‘her’ rather than ‘it’. When no one is watching, kiss them low on the last page, just before they end.
  24. Instead of using a bookmark, remember the number of the last page read – it’s comparable to remembering a woman’s birthday. The book will appreciate it, and she will sometimes be grateful, and open herself at that exact page…
  25. Sleep with your favorite book under your pillow, and when you feel down, go to her for comfort.


*I find over-reading detrimental because the characters and the scenes become confused, and I feel the urge to read faster to move on to the next book, and then I lose my focus, and miss the details.
**As an English learner I make more progress if I hear the language being spoken. Audiobooks also rest my eyes and train my ears.
***For me, listening to audiobooks = reading.


This part has been about reading rules. Part two about writing rules will be posted Wednesday.

Do you have any reading rules?

26 thoughts on “My 25 Reading Rules (Part One)

  1. Finally! I’m starting to be worried if I’m not by any chance addicted to your posts…:/

    I never ever ever watched a movie based on a book I read that I’d enjoy. It always raped my imagination and left me torn.

    1. ‘Raped my imagination and left me torn.’ Wow!

      I’ve changed the theme dear Julita, for you. I’ll check some of the themes you’ve recommended and see whether any is better than this one, but I’ll not use again the one I had yesterday. It did not suit me.

      Thank you for pointing that out. If you were near me and would allow it, I would hug you. 🙂

  2. My reading tenets: Have a readers’ notebook. Write a summary and impression.

    (I like listening to audio books while I’m driving)

    1. Hmm, maybe I should get a readers’ notebook too, rather than write my impressions in an electronic document.

      I listen to audiobooks when I am in bed and or when housecleaning. I have to pay attention to every word.

  3. I like the “posthumous satisfactions.” Can I get mine now? And if the answer is yes, how?

    Wow – if you really taught yourself English in three years. You are an incredible writer especially for someone who has such a short experience with the language.

    My favorites of your tenets are 1, 8, 12 (but only when the book is delicious), 13 (except that I have to look up words immediately, I cannot wait), 15, ummhhh 17, and I’d add 26 – read library books as often as possible and save trees (especially if the book is junky).

    BTW – I got your invisible gift. I just can’t seem to find where I placed it. Do you have some suggestions? Randy

    1. You have to die first to get posthumous satisfactions. Your kids will enjoy them though.

      English is relatively easy because of its simple grammar. Learning it is also easy because the web and everything else that can be in English is in English.

      The invisible gift is on your desk. Its use can prove inconvenient though.

      Randy is a boy’s name, but I have this suspicion that you’re a girl. Am I wrong in my rightness?

      1. to quote someone I just met, a little mystery is always good…

        too bad that the invisible gift has inconvenient uses, or was that ruses?

        Lastly, to die in order to receive posthumous satisfactions, aside from being an oxymoron, is mordant, morbid and moribund.Only worms get satisfaction post humous (and post tahini). The rest of us seem to like our satisfactions while living.

        1. I like oxymorons. And I like posthumous satisfactions just as much. 😉

          You can live after your death through your writing, and thus enjoy oxymoronic posthumous satisfactions. 😉

    1. Yes but there are words to hear. Beautiful words.

      The narrator has to be good though, and the room quiet, and the pillow soft, and the eyes closed.

      No distractions!

  4. These are my favourites:

    “Do not read a book preface before reading the story unless the preface is the author’s or is short. Read the preface after reading the book.” – I often try not to even read the blurb.

    “Reread your favorite books often. Speak the beautiful sentences out loud.”

    “Instead of using a bookmark, remember the number of the last page read – it’s comparable to remembering a woman’s birthday. The book will appreciate it, and she will sometimes open herself at that exact page…” – I do this too, but I never had an excuse for it before, so thanks!

  5. What a love story this is…if only people with the luxury of taking their language for granted would treat it with such delicacy. Reading is a bit of a romance for me – I don’t like to move on to another book until I’m properly over the last one 🙂

  6. Those are nice, but I can I call them ‘him’ instead? 🙂 [I call cars ‘her’ sometimes but I feel my books to be more hims than hers]

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