I've always been one of those people that carries a book wherever I go. It started in elementary school, actually, when I would finish assignments way before the rest of the class, and the thing I was allowed to do was read. Well, or sit quietly at my desk. I don't think teachers realize how difficult it is for an eight-year-old to just sit quietly anywhere when everyone else has something to do. So I started filling in those cracks with reading. Of course, at the time, it was from books in the classroom; it wasn't until middle school that I started carrying books with me. Probably so that I'd have something to read on the school bus. But I discovered that having a book with me was a good thing because it didn't matter where I was, when I was stuck waiting for anything, stuck in a crack in time, I had a book to read. By high school, I was the guy with a book. Not that anyone ever called me that, not to my face, anyway, but people would comment. And my friends would ask me why: "Why do you always have to have a book with you?"
They never really understood the answer. Even that I liked reading didn't suffice as an answer. I suppose that was too foreign a concept for most of them. I know they didn't get it, because the same people would ask that question over and over, like I was lying to them, "But why...?"
When I was younger, those cracks in time where I would slip some reading in were often large and happened frequently. Actually, thinking back on it, now, it's amazing how much time kids have to just... waste. And, mostly, that's what they do with it. Yeah, yeah, I know it's part of being a kid, but, still...
The biggest crack was at bedtime. That was like a grand canyon of time every night when I would spend a couple or few hours reading. Man, that was so luxurious, and I didn't even know it.
The problem is that those cracks get smaller and smaller as you get older, especially once (if) you have kids. In fact, some of those cracks get filled in completely. There's no sitting around in class reading because you've finished whatever everyone else is working on. I'm thinking that behavior is mostly frowned on at most jobs, at least most of the jobs I've had. And bedtime reading is nearly non-existent. There is just too much tiredness. Whereas I used to read at least an hour every night, I'm doing good to get in 10 minutes these days (which is why it took most of the last year to read The Casual Vacancy). My reading cracks have been reduced to waiting for my kids after school, a yield of about 20 minutes a day, and waiting in line at the bank, which I generally don't do more than once a month.
All of that means that I need to restructure the way I read. Reading in the cracks just isn't good enough anymore. But there's a bigger reason for that.
The way I read, or have been reading, requires that I have something I can carry with me, which means an actual, physical book (because I have no mobile device for reading), but what I really need to be doing is increasing my e-reading (which requires that I sit at my computer (not entirely pleasant after sitting in front of my computer all day already)). And why do I need to do that, you might ask.
One of the things that really bothers me as I bounce around to blogs by other indie writers ("indie" encompasses (by definition) self-published authors and traditionally published authors published by any publisher that is not one of the "big" publishers) is that, when they talk about the books they "love," they are almost exclusively talking about books from the "Big Six." In fact, there are frequent posts that just gush over books like Gone Girl (being the one that I ran across the most this week (half a dozen separate posts about this book)), which is not the problem. The problem is that there is a deficit of posts like that about other indie writers.
The implied message (which I'm sure is completely unintentional but is there just the same):
I am an indie writer and you should read my books. Yes, I am that good. However, other indie writers out there are not as good as me, which you can tell because I only read books published by the Big Six traditional publishers.
Yes, this bothers me. As an indie writer, I do my best to support other indie writers by reading their books (and reviewing them, but that's another discussion) and letting people know what indie books I've read that I really like (see that reviewing thing, again, which is still another discussion). It doesn't mean that you have to give up reading books by the Big Six, but, if you are an indie writer, you probably ought to be giving something close to equal time to other indie writers. That message says:
I value what you do as much as I value what I do.
That's an important message to be sending. Not to the other indie writers (though that is important) but to readers. Readers need to know that indie books are no less good than Big Six books, and the only way to let them know that is by showing that we are reading them, too.
For me, specifically, this is going to involve some changes in the way I do my reading (at least until I get some kind of portable device). No more just reading in the cracks. I will have to set aside deliberate time in which to do reading at my computer so that I can start working on, really working on, my TBR list of indie authors. It's important.