What Kind of Reader Are You?

Image: ©Davy D Writer

‘People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading.’

Logan Pearsall Smith

As a child growing up in the 1960’s I was lucky to be surrounded by friends and family who held a love for literature. My father read to me each bedtime and my mother would take me, each week, to the local library to satisfy a hunger for books.

My early years were spent in a cottage which was originally built to house retired coal miners. The cottages on either side were still occupied by a couple of old miners. Mr. Hughes on the left, Mr. News on the right. (There is a piece of poetry there somewhere.) I spent many days dipping in and out of their homes, usually at the time of their hot food deliveries, given to pensioners at that time.

Rice puddings were shared. Each would read to me from their daily newspaper. A competition developed between the two as to who could read to me the most, as well as donate the larger share of their pudding. As time moved on, I became the reader and would read them adventures found in a new library book. (I also acquired a taste for cold rice pudding which remains.) Fifty years later that love for reading has never left me. I still get a wave of excitement when opening a new book.

All of which brings me to the question posed in the title of this week’s Friday Thoughts. What Kind of Reader Are You? I have been mulling this over after a conversation with another writer where we discussed if how you read was linked to your personality.

Personality and Reading

My style of reading could be considered frenzied. At any one time I might have more than five books on the go. A reading day starts at breakfast with a poetry book, or a book which will create a spark of inspiration before I go to my writing journal. Depending on what is written, the rest of the day involves dipping in and out of my book library, Kindle, the World Wide Web, before everything calms down at bedtime and I lose my self in some fiction, nothing too taxing, before sleep.

I did manage to find an article at the website, Book Cave, which suggests there are twelve common reading personalities ranging from ‘The Skim Reader,’ to the ‘Fan Club Reader,’. My style falls into, ‘The Chaos Reader,’ category. Chaos Readers, by nature, ‘don’t just read one book from start to end, but usually have a few books in progress. Chaos Readers have been known to leave a book in the middle and come back a year or two later to finish where they left off. This reader reads all genres of books and difficulty levels but doesn’t take the greatest care when picking a new novel up.’

A fair assessment, but in complete contrast to my personality which is as far from chaotic as you could imagine. A highlight of the past week was to buy a book on the history of libraries and led me to suggest to the bookseller that I needed more excitement in my life.

A positive from the pondering is it rekindled memories of how my reading journey began, in the bosom of family and coal miners. It has also opened up an avenue of enquiry around personality and reading style. Something I hope to explore in future posts.

Do you think your personality impacts on how you read? I would like to know your thoughts.

Have a good weekend.

27 thoughts on “What Kind of Reader Are You?

  1. Hello, Davy! I never thought of myself as a ‘chaos’ reader, but I can’t deny it — the description you provided? It fits! I’m finding myself toggling between several books at a time, periodically feeling guilty for shifting my attention but I can’t stop. Thanks for the link to the article – what fun. I’ll take a look! And…the story of the two miners, Mr.Hughes and Mr. News? Yes….I’m feeling a wave of creativity blossoming for you, poetry or otherwise. Hughes and News. Cheers to them for sharing their pudding with you and for being so dear. 😊

    1. Hi, Victoria. It is good to hear I am not the only one who practices the art of chaotic reading. Hughes and News were great people to have had in a childhood. I think you can buy most children with rice pudding 😂. I wish I could revisit them now and find out more about their life stories. It would make great material for writing. Thank you for taking time out to leave your thoughts and have a good weekend.

      1. Thanks, Davy…happy to connect with you and I enjoyed your post. Cheers and good weekend vibes to you as well! 😊😊😊

  2. How interesting? I’m definitely a skim reader. I love your descriptions of how your early reading with the coal miners. I think you definitely have a poem there!

    1. Thank you, Wynne. While I was writing the post a few more memories of them came back, so its definitely worth exploring. I do skim read sometimes, especially when I am researching. I don’t know whether this a time or age thing, but my reading speed has slowed over the years. Perhaps this goes deeper than personality? Thank you for your thoughts.

  3. My reading personality is in flux right now. It was severely disrupted by the pandemic. For the last couple of years, I’ve been stealing much of my reading time and using it to write or (gasp) poke around at the internet. Since my vision has degraded (8 months or so), I’ve been spending only a little bit of time reading each night (it’s really pretty uncomfortable to read). My current and last three books are all David Sedaris. Not really sure what kind of a reader that makes me.

    1. The pandemic, Jeff, disrupted a lot of our routines and I, for one, am trying to settle into new ones. I’ve not read anything by Sedaris and should put him on my to read list. Flux was one not mentioned in the list but I think we are there at some stage. Thanks for your thoughts.

  4. Oh my Davy, thanks so much for sharing these descriptions. I have elements of being a chaos reader … but sadly I think I fall into the Neverland reader who looks for easier reads. I like how the article put it, the type of reader who looks for brain candy. Uh-oh, I’m not sure that’s too good. Ha, ha, Loved your post!

    1. Thanks for the kind words and support, Brian. Neverland is a good category and one I opt for late in the day. Brain Candy would be ok as long as we got the sweetness, (and not the calories.) Brain fodder may be a more apt description. (Is this a UK description?)

  5. Morning Davy. I’m not sure I really fit into any of these definitions but maybe a mix of about 4 or 5. I’m a skim reader if I’m looking for facts or reading a textbook for class prep etc. I do always have multiple books on the go at one time. But im also a bit of the philosophical reader, but sometimes can also just look for light, escapism. I also hate not finishing a book … even if it sometimes feels like an endurance. I also hate books written as a series of letters or diary entries – I was forced to read Dangerous Liasons when I was at Uni, and I’ve never been able to read Dracula

    1. Hi, Brenda. I admire your tenacity. If a book hasn’t got me in the first fifty pages then I don’t waste any more time with it. There are elements of most of these reading styles in us at different times. I am not sure about the rigour of the research that went into the survey but I would like to see if any academic research has been done in this area. Like you, I do enjoy a philosophical read. Thanks for your thoughts and have a good weekend.

  6. Hi Davy, your post reminds me of Stephen King’s novella – Mr. Harrigan’s Phone where a young boy reads to an elderly, rich man for many years and is even paid for his services. I think reading is a part of one’s basic nature, you either have it in you or don’t. And I’ve never considered what type of reader I am. Probably just a happy one. I love reading. Take care and have a great Sunday and week ahead. 🙂

    1. I have not read that, Terveen, and will have a look for it. A happy reader sounds the best type of reader to be. Like you, I love reading and am happy to have the opportunity whenever I can. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and have a great week.

  7. As somebody who has dyslexia, it’s rare I read a book, Davy. And when I do read one, the plot has to be easy, otherwise I put the book down and never return to it.

    However, blog posts are a different matter. If the title of a blog post and the first few lines don’t interest me, I’ll move on. However, if I’m hooked, I’ll read the whole post Why skip something you enjoy reading?

    Mr Hughes and Mr News? Reminds me of the name of a certain blog not too far away from where I’m sitting.

    Thanks for the memories of cold rice pudding. My favourite bit was always the skin on top of the pudding.

    1. I never even gave a moments thought to the connection with your blog, Hugh. Perhaps your family tree goes back to the West Cumbrian coast?

      I’m with you on the complicated plots. There are numerous recently published novels with cast lists published at the start to the book. I’ve tried reading a number of these but have got lost in the complications. It’s like watching a theatre performance with people running on and off stage all the time.

      My wife has mastered the art of cold rice pudding skin. I don’t know why it hasn’t been considered a delicacy.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and have a good week ahead.

      1. BTW, Davy. What has happpened to your ‘Notify me of new comments via email’ box? It seems to have disappeared from your blog. Ticking that box meant I always got an email when your replied to my comments. Such a handy little feature. Now I have to remember to keep checking the notification centre to check if you have replied. Not a problem, unless I forget to check.

  8. I’d never considered what kind of reader I am. But at the moment I have two on the go (Bill Brysons ‘Down Under’ and Charles Dickens ‘Great Expectations) and I read the former at work morning breaks where it matters less if I’m interrupted, and the latter in my lunch break when I sit in my car, but I’m also dipping into another book at home about, would you believe, Breathing.

    So I guess that makes me a chaotic reader, though I really don’t see myself as such so it’s come as some surprise! You’ve certainly got me thinking about it though!

    1. Thanks for sharing this, Paul. You have got me thinking that the way we read goes deeper than just placing reading habits into categories. Time available and mood must play a part. We could be different types of reader at various times. The book about Breathing seems interesting.

  9. I don’t think it’s personality based, but I’ve evolved into taking reading less seriously. For instance, I used to read to understand each and every word before moving on. But these days, I just want the gist of a story. I’ll slow down to appreciate particularly artistic phrases, but for the most part, I want to know what goes on next. This mean skipping things like songs, poetry, or newspaper clippings within the stories themselves.

    1. That is interesting, Stuart. Do you think that may be time related or you are becoming more focused in what you are reading? Perhaps reading is mood based and changes over time. When I ran numerous social media accounts I found I struggled to sit down and read a book for any sustained length of time. Now I have cut back on my social media activity I find I can get lost in a good book once again. Thanks for your thoughts and adding to the conversation.

  10. I do think your personality affects how you read. An arrogant person would skim a book so as not to waste time on “nonsense.” A contemplative introvert would dig deep into a book (probably something literary) and spend hours at a slow pace reading it.

    1. You make a good point, Priscilla. Your thoughts have made me consider whether someone’s personality would dictate the kind and style of book they would read. Would an arrogant person prefer a less literary intellectual read, and an introvert something different? More food for thought. Thank you Priscilla.

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