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Conquering Travel Sickness On Buses

A photograph of trees in motion - the photograph was taken during a car ride

I have always suffered from travel sickness, something I expect a lot of you can relate to. It’s a major hassle when you like to read a lot, and more so when you’ve a review deadline looming. I think in my case it has something to do with the fact my parents didn’t have a car until a good number of years into my life; my journeys in cars were infrequent, they were all different (a few very old cars, too, with the requisite vintage smells which to this day I can’t stand) and it was generally the case that if we were in a car, we were going a long way, to a place without a train station or bus route. I believe my nephew’s the first person not to suffer from travel sickness at all; he’s been used to cars since he was born.

I can read on planes and on trains – the only aspect to contend with there is chatter – and I’ve tried on many occassions to read on buses and in cars but it’s always come with a sense of borrowed time. A 30 second glance at a text message? Sure, but it might affect the rest of the trip.

Recently I tried once again, on a long bus trip, and found something that worked. In researching travel sickness previously, I learned some tips, such as don’t look out the windows, and read in moments here and there, but they didn’t work. I experimented a bit and found a solution:

I sat on my seat, facing towards the aisle. I’d picked a window seat, and this is a good idea particularly as facing inwards mean you’d be intentionally blocking yourself from anyone sitting next to you were they in the window seat. (It’s also more comfortable; I’m not sure what I would’ve done if there was no choice of seat.) I made sure not to look away from my book unless the bus was stationary. When the bus jolted, I stopped reading until it was travelling steady again.

With time I think it will be possible to look up briefly whilst the bus is moving. I don’t know the effect a different direction would have – I sat in the direction of travel. I also don’t know whether format would have an impact – I experimented when I was reading an ebook so I didn’t have to worry about the slight difference in the context of left and right pages or holding a book open.

If you suffer like me, I recommend giving the above a go and seeing if you can work something out. Get that time back.

Next goal: reading when a passenger in the car.

Have you any tips for travel sickness and reading?

 
Reading In The Small Moments

A photograph of a watch lying on an open book

I’m not sure if there’s an established, or relatively established, term for this – reading in every available moment you have free. Reading in queues, whilst waiting for people, at stations, and so on. I recently added ‘in the car wash’ when you’re a passenger. (I get travel sick. I recently turned to my nephew, sat reading in the backseat, and asked him, ‘don’t you feel sick reading in the car?’ He had no idea what I was talking about. I’m jealous!)

I’d heard people reference the small moment ‘method’ of reading many times before but never paid it much heed as I always got caught up wondering how it could work – attention needed, time to find the book in your bag, your place, and so on. I finally decided to try it out a few weeks ago after reading about how a person who read many more books than me in a year did it. They credited reading in the same moments, a big factor.

First thing I learned: it takes practise. Starting out, you have to remember it’s something you can do. You also have to be prepared to look anti-social.

There’s a learning curve I’m still on: the thought of ‘is this going to be enough time?’ takes time – unless your answer is an immediate ‘no, because they’ve taken one step away to throw something in the bin’ this self-questioning isn’t productive in any way.

You’ve got to work out how short a moment of reading is your limit in terms of retention. A two sentences read moment is likely pointless.. Better to add the two to the three pages you’ll be getting to whilst your friends pops into the store to get a coffee. In a similar vein, it works best when you’re with people you know or when you’re at a place you know fairly well. Is my friend likely to spend time chatting at the counter with the barista? Yes. Will this queue of twelve people at the hardware store take time? No, because there are eight cashiers on duty and everyone has one item. (I don’t encourage tracking things in this detail, but it works as an explanation.)

Easy going books that you’re enjoying work best. You’re pretty much primed to step back into the fiction or non-fiction quickly, which again means more time used effectively. Anything heavy going is possibly going to be hard to fully comprehend.

Ebooks work best in terms of finding the book in your bag and getting to your page, but only if the device is already on. (I’m still working through the ‘sleep mode uses a lot of battery when I don’t know when I’ll be picking it up again’ conundrum.) Bookmarks in physical books are a must unless you know you have a fair amount of time.

You’ve also got to remember to take the book with you. Everywhere. It’s going to be the times you don’t that you’ll find would’ve provided the most time. I do find now, having got into the habit, that when I don’t take my book (at this point that’s an active decision), I regret it.

So reading in the small moments has been cited as a reason for having read many books in a year; I don’t think it’s as much a factor as people might lead you to believe, but it does definitely help. For me, my August stats will show that, combined with the big effort I made to make up for less reading in June and July.

There can only be one question: do you read in the small moments?

 
Musings On Notebooks

A photograph of three notebooks and some pens

I’ve a lot of notebooks lying around and have filled many more that have been thrown away. All have been used for various purposes; the basic idea is to use them for reading notes and blog post drafts but inevitably at some point they also get used for ‘what to take on holiday’ and gift lists and so forth.

My view or almost relationship with notebooks has changed over the years. First I bought anything, mostly refill pads, and also used scraps of paper, to make notes on the books I wanted to review, including notes I actively wanted to include and thoughts and quotes I knew probably wouldn’t make it. I’d throw the notes away once the post was up, because why would I need them?…

Then I realised my error – I did need those thrown away notes, particularly those I’d made for general purposes; I bought notebooks with the intention of keeping them, and gave myself the ‘choice’ to slim the books down later on (if they were spiral bound).

Thirdly, I realised there was no rhyme or reason to this, and I was still using scraps of paper – often notes were split across scraps and books – and they got lost. I reverted to refill pads.

Keeping quotes I want to remember is a sort of compromise I’ve made with myself – I’ve often thought of starting a commonplace book, but putting it into practise strikes me as overwhelming. Where to start, exactly? How to categorise? And would I actually end up using any of the notes or quotes? This new refill pad that I’m not tearing pages out of – as I did all the others – is a way round that. I’ll probably digitalise them all with the caveat that they get kept – I’ve deleted lots of digit notes, too.

This refill pad is almost full so I’ll have to make a decision soon.

What do you look for in a notebook, and how do you go about using them in the context of what you need them for?

 
A Brief Word On Imagination And Description

A photograph of a door in the gardens of Hever Castle, surrounded by autumn leaves

The woman went to the sink and washed her cup. I was pulled out of the story – hadn’t she already done that? Looking through the past few paragraphs in the scene I found that she hadn’t.

I realised that as I’d been reading, I’d imagined the two women talking at the table – as the dialogue showed this was happening. I saw one taking sips of coffee as the other spoke and then the reverse, and, as often happens in reality when you’ve a friend with you in the kitchen and it’s all very casual, the home owner had left the table to rinse her mug. That I’d imagined this made me very happy; I’m not great at taking a scene and running with it; description is useful (though I agree with the fact that lots of books have too much description).

(On this note there’s a ‘condition’ in the same region as Synesthesia, called Aphantasia – the inability to create mental images. It’s an interesting thing to read about.)

The washing up brought to mind the fact that stories don’t need to ‘tell’ – even if you’re not actually imagining, you don’t need an exact run-down of what’s happening, you don’t need the minor details repeated. Perhaps that’s where the line is, between telling and showing, the line between a reader taking on the scene’s construction themselves compared to being hindered because the author won’t let them create.

How do you find the visual part of reading? Do you find yourself creating the background and context?

 
On Book Haul Posts

A photograph of a pile of books - the Wellcome Prize 2016 shortlist

…Or what I refer to here as Latest Acquisitions posts.

I haven’t written an acquisitions post recently. It isn’t because I’ve not received/bought/borrowed any books – I have had fewer books enter my home but enough to warrant a post. It’s because the knowledge that they are easy posts, and the considerations as to how and when to create them, got me thinking I should write less of them.

That ‘worry’… I’ve been about it in some shape or form for ages, then Holly posted her own thoughts which in turn were inspired by Ariel Bisett’s video. I thought I’d take a leaf from their book and write down the thoughts I’ve kept to myself. Primarily my thoughts concern the ‘why’ of book hauls, but also revolve around the form the posts take.

I create my latest acquisition posts because I like to highlight books I’ve received, knowing it’ll take me a while, sometimes forever, to get to them all. I do it because it gives me a chance to flag up a new release I’m not set to review until after the publishing date. I do it to share my excitement and my reasons for saying ‘yes’ to a request or buying a book. (In the second case – buying – it allows me to share my journey, if there was one, to buying it.) And I like posts that include lots of books.

On a less personal note, book haul posts are easy. Yes, they are easy (generally) for me to write (on occasions when I’ve accepted a book for review not knowing too much about it I feel the lack of good background information) but also easy to read. As much as long posts are great, sometimes people just don’t have the time to read them so a mix of long and short posts hopefully helps mean more time for both. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that short posts see more comments, and it’s entirely understandable. (Reviews are excluded of course – in my experience they are effected, comments wise, by whether or not the blog reader has read the book.)

Two of my considerations are length and time:

  • The balance between a short, easy, post, and something of value is something that in the case of hauls I’m still working on.
  • Time – how often to post; how many books in each post (which may affect post frequency); how many are too many.

And always lingering at the back of my mind – when dealing with review requests, does this constitute showing off?

I’ve acquired many books since my last haul post but due to pulling back a little on review copies for the time being, I’ve been reviewing them pretty swiftly… which is another thought – I don’t like posting about a new book twice in quick succession unless I’ve lots (and lots) to say about it.

Though I should probably write another acquisitions post soon, leaving out books I’ve since reviewed – that’s another factor. Wait too long and calling a book ‘new’ is no longer true.

The amount I’ve written here… I guess this post has been a long time coming!

What do you think about book hauls and their value?

 

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