Review: The Last Days of Magic: A Novel

The Last Days of Magic: A Novel
The Last Days of Magic: A Novel by Mark Tompkins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**Thank you to Viking Press, a part of the Penguin Group, for sending me a digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley for the purposes of review**

I requested this book based on its premise: “An epic novel of magic and mysticism, Celts and faeries, mad kings and Druids, stalwart warriors and the goddess struggling to reign over magic’s last outpost on the Earth.”

How can I say no to that? It’s practically my literary bread and butter.

And the story starts out very well, opening in 2016 before flashing back to the 1300’s, where we begin the story that was advertised by the blurb. The attention to detail is astonishing; Mr. Tompkins clearly knows his stuff and has no problem in making sure you know it — oftentimes to the novel’s detriment. While I, myself, love getting as much background information as possible about things which interest me, it doesn’t do any favours to the pacing and cadence of the story. Everything frequently grinds to a halt so that Mr. Tompkins can unload vast quantities of information upon you…before then making a major time-skip and moving on with the story.

This is what I found the most frustrating: the time-skips. They happened frequently within this novel, and I was often flipping back to previous chapters in order to figure out just how much time had passed narratively. Usually I don’t mind time-skips — I just don’t particularly like them occurring every other chapter. It only exacerbates the issue of an inconsistent narrative cadence and makes it more difficult for me to immerse myself in the story.

While the characters are interesting, there are too many of them; they’re crammed into the story and spill over in a confusing jumble of names and loyalties to the point that I was losing track of more than half the names. Either the book needed to be longer — which I don’t think is necessary — or many of these people could have been cut or condensed.

I have a suspicion that this is a set-up for a series, which makes me even more confused as to why Mr. Tompkins did not, perhaps, pull back on many of the characters in order to have a smaller core cast that he develops more thoroughly. The story could have had more breathing to explain its points with more depth; the characters could have been introduced more readily; and the time-skips could have been less frequent.

Ultimately, while I think that Mr. Tompkins is very bright and has a great story/characters on his hands, this novel could have used more fleshing out. In the effort to cram so much into it, I feel that the story got away from the author.

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It took 23 years…

…for my ADHD to be properly diagnosed.
It took 23 years for my anxiety to be properly diagnosed.

It only took 18 years for my depression to be properly diagnosed.

Why is that?

This is a question I ask myself often, especially in my current position: I aggravated a (previously unknown to me) congenital anatomic anomaly in my lower spine, as well as a skeletal anomaly in my left knee, which has forced me into a required rest period. No working out, no heavy lifting.

When something that is a three-day-a-week routine is ripped out of my life, it throws my precariously-balanced mental stasis into total disarray. Here’s the funny thing about my anxiety: obsessive negative thinking is one of its favourite ways to manifest. Tie that with a racing, never-paused ADHD brain, and you’ve got a recipe for emotional disaster.

I’m going completely bonkers.

But it did get me thinking: why was it that my depression was diagnosed so much earlier than my other two mental disorders?

Well, I stumbled upon this article from health.com, which leads to several others on Adult ADHD, and I loved that it very quickly pointed out that:

“Because women are less likely than men to be classically hyperactive, their symptoms can be more subtle and easily missed.”

“Classically hyperactive” – a nice way of saying: we think of boys as the tasmanian devils that are the poster-children for ADHD because gender roles are very much a thing and because we forget that everyone’s minds are different. Thus, as I like to think, so are their disorders going to be different.

Adding me to the count makes two people in my family with clinical ADD and one with ADHD, with mine being mild enough to go completely unmedicated. Though, trust me, there are times I’ve considered turning to medication, and not just for my ADHD. The other two in my family who have attention disorders — my mum and my younger brother — are both prescribed Adderall for their condition and, between the two, I do believe that my brother was the first one diagnosed. I could be wrong: perhaps my mother was diagnosed before he was, but my brother was certainly the one I recall being prescribed medication first between the two of them.

What fascinates me about the attention disorders in my family is just how different they are, especially from my own observation. If I had to breakdown what I’ve observed, and what I’ve been told, here’s how it would go:

MUM
My mum describes it as just bouncing from one thing to the next; of being very easily distracted and, thus, leaving things unfinished. In my own observations, my mum’s ADD manifests so that, when she’s focused on something, it’s an absolute laser-like focus. Then, suddenly, that focus will shift and, so, that same laser-like intensity finds a new target. The hardest part is in trying to keep her on target or bring her back to target once the attention shifts.

BROTHER
My brother has never talked too much to me about his ADD, but from what I’ve gathered, his manifested as a near-total inability to focus. His mind would constantly bounce from thing-to-thing. What I observed most was the physical aspect of this: he twitches, and not little things…but his entire leg. He bounces his leg up and down in a very rapid motion, which is one of the signs, to me, that either (a) he has not taken his medication or (b) it’s starting to wear off. Other signs to that respect are his inability to remember small, everyday things: turning off lights or the television when he leaves a room, forgetting to lock doors, et al. He once told me that he thought his ADD was just his own laziness; that he didn’t want to try in school and, so, made up an excuse like ADD to make it seem like it wasn’t his fault. I get what he was doing: it’s not easy to accept that there’s something inherently different about the way your brain works. My brother is very bright, but the medication helps him focus that intelligence so that it’s not running around like a rabid squirrel.

 

ME
I described my mind to my therapist as such: if you ask me a question, or even just make a remark of any kind, my mind will immediately shoot off in, say, twelve completely different directions; and despite the fact that one or more of those directions will reach their destination before the other, all the rest will continue, even after the conversation has long ended and we’ve moved on — my brain operates in a constant state of overdrive. It’ll even go down completely nonsensical paths…all the time.

I call it sliding. I can easily imagine myself at the top of some great, interweaving slide complex. When my brain says, “GO!”, I splinter into several pieces — some great, some small — that represent my attention. The bulk of my attention goes in one direction, but then something will occur that pulls it over towards a different splinter, some different direction.

Like my brother, I also have a twitch in my foot and leg that manifests most while I’m working at my desk — I work as a Creative Producer and spend my days editing audio-visual content for on-air broadcast — but can also be seen if I’m holding any kind of writing instrument. Whatever pen or pencil is in my hand is guaranteed to be whipping around between two fingers.

But most of all, there was something else that was mentioned by the article, which were things I had discussed with my therapist that also helped her in diagnosing me this past year (all emphasis added by me):

“…a woman with ADHD may come off as chatty, peppy, or extroverted, or even as a dreamy, artistic soul. In reality, she may feel deeply frustrated by seemingly simple tasks, from picking out clothes to grocery shopping to keeping files organized at work.”

It’s a running joke in my family that I never shut up — and that I haven’t shut up even since I was very young. There’s a favourite story that my parents love to tell from when I was about three or four years old, and they asked me: “Are you ever not talking?”

My answer? Something like a five minute-long dissertation on all the activities in which I did not, to my mind, actively engage in conversation.

Shouldn’t that have been a warning sign for my parents?

Probably not. Simple chattiness is not an immediate sign of ADHD and, besides, as I grew up, none of my grades were ever seriously affected by this. Sure, I wasn’t great at math or science — my parents attributed this to my lack of interest in the topics (which is totally valid) and labelled me as “OFP”, aka “Own F***ing Program” — but I did well in other areas and never showed any signs of difficulty within a classroom. I also never had difficulty with tasks such as reading — see my post on my reading habits.

I attribute this to two things.

First: I am incredibly stubborn. Like, bullheaded levels of stubborn, especially if you tell me I can’t do something. I once turned in a thesis to my 12th-grade AP Literature teacher that she told me, flat out, “wrong” — I was arguing that HamletOedipus Tyrannus, and King Lear were all about the end of the world and, thus, apocalyptic tragedies, to which she only agreed that Lear was an apocalyptic tragedy — and that, to me, was like being thrown the intellectual gauntlet. Oh, that’s not right, you say? Let me just prove you wrong. (I did, by the way. That’s a paper I would love to go back and revisit for the sake of expanding upon it.)

Second: my ADHD is mild. It’s mild enough for me to go on unmedicated — hell, it was mild enough for me to go undiagnosed for 23 years. I only notice it when I am forced to try and focus on one single thing at a time. When I try to do that, I become restless, my mind wanders too easily, and I’m just overall a very frustrated, unhappy bunny. I often say that I think this is one of the reasons I was drawn to video post-production: it forces me to multi-task and multi-focus on every single project, no matter how big or small.

The beauty of being given a diagnosis by a professional was an amazing sense of relief. A lot of things that I attributed to being no more than personal “quirks” — tendency to constantly daydream; to speak very rapidly, often without letting all those metaphorical brain-slides finish their paths; the leg twitching; the almost physical need for constant background noise — could be explained by ADHD.

But then there was also the anxiety.

I don’t like to talk about my anxiety. ADHD is something that is so common — and so commonly over-diagnosed — that it’s almost easier for me to talk about. My struggles with depression? Sure thing — after all, something around 12 million American women suffer from clinical depression each year, which is roughly twice the rate of men.

But anxiety?

How do I find a way to casually tell people that I have an absolutely near-crippling fear of calling people on the phone? I know that it’s entirely illogical to feel this way, but every single time it’s the same: my heart takes off like a horse at the Kentucky Derby; my hands shake; my stomach rolls around like a storm-torn sea, making me feel like I want to vomit; and I want nothing more than to curl up in a ball and hide away under a dark pile of blankets.

How do I tell people that combining anxiety with ADHD makes me entirely hypersensitive to noises, especially loud noises? That my whole body will brace itself, on high-alert complete with holding my breath, whenever I’m in a loud or crowded area? That sometimes the very thought of having to leave my flat for something other than work or the gym — the established routine — can root me entirely to the spot and paralyze me completely?

Yeah. Not exactly fun, is it?

How about that the delightful cocktail of disorders that is my depression, anxiety, and ADHD led to bulimia that lasted from 2012-2014? That that was the reason I went into therapy — that the only reason I have the mild sense of peace in knowing why my mind is the way that it is, is because I was destroying my body and health for almost two years?

I’m a hit at parties. Can you tell?

It’s hard to admit stuff like that even to myself. But getting a diagnosis, even when I was 23, was the biggest weight off my shoulders that I have ever experienced. But it doesn’t mean that I can suddenly just function in society like nothing’s wrong.

It also meant that I had to actually convince some members of my family that this diagnosis was just that: a diagnosis of existing conditions, and an accurate diagnosis at that. When I first told her, my mum actually said: “You don’t have ADHD.”

She was drawing from her own experience; she thought that all ADD and ADHD was alike.

It’s not.

And I think that’s why it took so long for me to be diagnosed. I think that’s why so many women are likely living their lives undiagnosed. Maybe they’re like me: maybe it’s a mild enough case that it does not require medication and doesn’t always impede with everyday life. Maybe it’s something that, like mine, can actually work in their favour when it comes to their work and their passions/pursuits.

There’s a lot of frustration and resentment that can be lurking beneath that chatty exterior of the undiagnosed. Mental illness is just that: frustrating. It’s being locked inside of my own mind when it runs haywire and having to try and rein it back in like some chariot of wild horses.

But I did get diagnosed.

I got the names of my nemeses — the ones that live inside myself.

It just took 23 years.

And one year after that diagnosis, I’m still twitching my leg constantly; I’m still constantly daydreaming and thinking with my hyperdrive brain and overactive imagination; and I still really hate calling people or being in crowded areas.

But I’m better.

I’m better because I know the reasons why.

Review: Darth Plagueis

Darth Plagueis
Darth Plagueis by James Luceno
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was the first Star Wars EU (“Expanded Universe”) novel that I had ever read, and I greatly enjoyed the experience. To be honest, I only read it because I wanted to do some “research” on the character of Darth Plagueis, but I learned a great deal more of Darth Sidious/Palpatine along the way as well.

The writing is measured and, had I not known that Star Wars was born from a film series, I might have guessed that Luceno was making this world up himself. The only danger is that I didn’t necessarily know what all of the various aliens are supposed to look like because little description is sometimes given to them. I suppose that comes with the territory, though: the authors of the Star Wars EU are likely writing with the assumption that their primary reading audience is going to be familiar with Star Wars in some way or another.

Whatever the case, I’ll have to call this novel my “gateway drug”-book into the written world of the Star Wars EU, and I actually am looking forward to, perhaps, picking up some more.

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Review: Finding Audrey

Finding Audrey
Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve always found Sophie Kinsella’s writing style — particularly her rapid-fire, bubbly dialogue — perfect for the young adult audience, and so found it surprising that she had never written anything specifically marketed/sold as YA lit. And here we (finally) are with her first.

It’s brilliant.

It has all the favourite hallmarks of a Sophie Kinsella novel, but also takes it a step further by dealing with the very mature topic of mental illness in teens. Specifically, Kinsella tackles social anxiety, general anxiety disorder, and depressive episodes — all of which plague our titular heroine, Audrey. While it’s clear that mild forms of these issues existed already in Audrey, an “incident” involving other girls exasperated these to such a degree that Audrey was rendered entirely incapacitated for daily life. In a masterstroke of storytelling, Ms. Kinsella makes a point to never detail the specifics of what occurred to Audrey: we don’t need to know the specifics, because we can already see the very real effects, physical and mental/emotional, that this “incident” had upon her. And, honestly, I didn’t want to know the details; it felt personal, as if I would have been prying far too deeply and closely into Audrey’s life.

If that isn’t a good sign of character creation and development, I don’t know what is. Audrey felt real enough that I didn’t even want to know the details of her background, because it felt like prying and made me uncomfortable to even consider it. Brava, Ms. Kinsella.

As someone who suffers from anxiety and depression, I can say that, on those fronts, Ms. Kinsella nails it. I easily recognize many of the things Audrey experiences as things which I, myself, have encountered as well. And I think that Audrey is lucky enough to have people like her brother, her parents, and Linus in her life who — while not always understanding exactly what is happening inside her head or how she feels — are patient and willing enough to work with Audrey to help her get better and make her feel safe/happy in her environment.

On that note: her mum is completely mental. She was maybe the one character I took issue with in the entire novel. What started out as kind of funny and a little bit understanding went just a hair overboard at one point in the novel. Perhaps this is because my own perspective is that of a young adult and not that of a parent, but I didn’t like the book any less for that.

My only true complaint is that I wish I’d had more — I enjoyed this book so much that I was sad when it ended at only just under 290 pages.

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Review: Harry Potter Page to Screen: The Complete Filmmaking Journey

Harry Potter Page to Screen: The Complete Filmmaking Journey
Harry Potter Page to Screen: The Complete Filmmaking Journey by Bob McCabe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A brilliant book for anyone who is a fan of either filmmaking or the Harry Potter films. It finds the right balance between telling all the “behind the scenes” stories that fans love, while explaining much of the decision process of the various crews and departments for those of us interested in the many aspects of filmmaking as industry, art, and entertainment.

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But…

“Yeah, I liked it, but…”

“Okay, so it wasn’t necessarily good, but…”

You know, my brother once told me that nothing someone says before the word “but” really counts.

Okay, I don’t necessarily believe with Benjen Stark on that one, but I think the “but” is an important word, especially in the world of the subjective.

I started pondering this topic on Saturday evening. I had just walked out of a showing of In the Heart of the Sea with my father, and while we both enjoyed the film, we had our own small critiques about it. Yes, we were far likely kinder than most of the critics, and it makes me miss Roger Ebert even more, because that man my personal review/critique-hero. I loved reading his reviews, even when I didn’t always agree with them.

It’s taken some time for me to articulate why exactly I liked his reviews, and I think I have to chalk it up to the “but”-factor. Basically, whenever he reviewed a film, it was: a) in the context of what he thought the film was trying to accomplish; b) the film as art; and c) the film as entertainment.

I think we often get caught up in one of those three elements to the detriment of the other two when thinking about whether or not we “liked” a film or a book or any other type of media, and whether or not we’re actively considering why we do this. Personally, I think it’s a pretty simple answer: when you stop to consider all of those things, you might end up feeling rather conflicted or convoluted. Not always the case, mind, but certainly (in my own experience) the general rule.

Which means I’m sure you’re wondering: what does this have to do with In the Heart of the Sea?

Okay, let me drop a short review of In the Heart of the Sea for you, utilizing those three elements I mentioned previously.

a) “the context of what think the film is trying to accomplish”

So what is this film trying to accomplish — what is the point of this film? I suppose that, like its source material of the same name, In the Heart of the Sea is attempting to tell the story of the men of the whaleship Essex; to put you in their shoes as are stove by a seriously pissed off bull sperm whale many thousands of nautical miles from land and as they resort to some extreme measures in order to survive. It is a tale of human endurance versus nature.

In that regard, In the Heart of the Sea does this quite well: the men get down to scarily-thin frames; we don’t see, but know that they resort to cannibalism as either their comrades die or, in one case, draw lots in order to kill one to save several; there is more than one moment where we see the men versus the raw power of nature, whether it be storms, whales, or the doldrums.

But I would say it’s only about 80% successful.

Why is that, you may ask? Well, perhaps it’s just me, but I would have wished some more time in the script had been spent on the whaling industry or, at the very least, on what it was like to be on a whaling ship. There’s a scene where the crew is summoned to practice getting into their whaling boats and such, and that’s a scene that could have been extended: I actually would have liked to have seen that practice round in full. Show me more of the crew interacting, of really getting to know each other.

What would that achieve? It would achieve the manipulation of my emotions to further buy into the camaraderie of these characters, would have shown me the ones that might have tension — beyond Cpt. Pollard and Chase, which is already shown well enough — and, overall, give me a better sense of the crew before the whale attack that spurs on the bulk of the film. I need to care about these men as both individuals and as a crew; I need to really feel what has been lost in the course of the decisions these men are forced to make.

b) the film as art

The visuals and the photography are gorgeous.
No, really, that’s it. Moving on…

c) the film as entertainment

This is a surprisingly quiet film — meaning that there aren’t that many big action set-pieces, there’s not a ton of snappy dialogue, and it’s not moving at a breakneck speed. In the Heart of the Sea takes its time with its story and doesn’t try to be anything more than what it is: a tale of survival and then self-forgiveness.

I, personally, found the film entertaining because I wanted to know the story. But if you’re going in to see man battle a whale…sorry, dude, this isn’t Moby Dick — close, but no cigar. That being said, can I acknowledge that the film might be a little too slow, a little too quiet? Sure, and I direct you back up to point (a), where I made the comment about seeing more of the whaling ship and the crew prior to the major turning point with the whale attack. Perhaps this would add more to its “entertainment value”, perhaps not; but I don’t think it would have necessarily hurt it.

 

Reviewing is a tricky thing: it’s an inherently subjective medium, but you want to be able to explain yourself in a way that’s almost objective. The ultimate conundrum: reconciling logos with pathos in order to maintain one’s own ethos.

Perhaps this is why I’m glad I have a minor form of ADHD: when I see a film or read a book, my brain is always active, always working in the background of things and dissecting what I come across. It’s not something I can “turn off” or even necessarily ignore — frankly, I’m not even sure I’d want to. Because of this strange little brain of mine, I’m afforded the opportunity to explain my gut reactions with a knowledge-base that comes from years of study, practice, and my own personal analytical skills.

I suppose now, dear reader, you’re wondering what the point was to all of this discussion?

It’s self-awareness. It’s being able to articulate the “why” and not just the “what” — it’s about adding a “because” to your “but.” I try very hard to do this, even when I’m being overwhelmingly negative or positive in reaction to something, because it is important to be able to articulate one’s reasoning, not only for the person who listens, but for the person who speaks.

γνῶθι σεαυτόν
gnothi seauton – know thyself

How Do You Do That?

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Recently, it’s come to my attention that I am quite strange.

…I mean with my reading habits. Yes, I’ve known that I’m complete weirdo for virtually my whole life, but I never thought of my reading habits as particularly odd until very recently.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a person who reads a vast collection of literature in a relatively short amount of time must be asked the eternal question: “How do you read so much?”

Alright, you want to know? You really want to know?

Because I’ll tell you, but I doubt it’ll make any more sense to you than it does to me.

Simply put: my brain is kind of different. I’ve never had it scanned or anything like that and, yes, I understand that each person is a precious, individual snowflake and no two are alike. But let me just tell you a bit about my brain and what I’ve “observed” about it in relation to my reading habits over this past year.

Why only this year? Well, this year I was challenged to read 365 books — novels, novellas, short stories, collections of poetry, issues of manga, graphic novels, et al. — in the 365 days of this year. And, let me make something else clear: I don’t count re-reads of novels. So that’s 365 new-to-me written works in 365 days.

That means I needed to average about a book a day.

Now, let me be clear, I have not always kept that average: there were periods where I read maybe a book a week, and there were times, like very recently, when I read about 5-6 books in one day. To be fair: I was ill in bed and did not have much else to do because, well, “much else” took far more effort and energy than I had available to me.

As it sits, at this very moment, I am currently 7 books ahead of schedule, and I’m sure that will fluctuate before this year comes to a close. But, still…I’m 7 books ahead of schedule. And none of it was cheating. I diligently logged and star-rated every book that I read via goodreads, and even wrote reviews for some of them. When it comes to compiling my “Top 15 Books of 2015” list, I know it’ll be incredibly difficult given the volume I will have read.

But how have I managed this? How could I possibly have read that many books in so short a time?

I’ve been asked this more as the year comes to its end, namely because the sheer volume has truly started to sink in for many of my friends and family. So, without further ado, let me tell the few things I have discovered for myself about myself — the few ticks/tricks/quirks that I possess that have helped me to achieve this insane number.

I have an extremely mild case of ADHD and continue to remain unmedicated for it, especially given that I manage to go 23 years without being diagnosed. What does this have to do with my reading? I actually think quite a bit.

For me, my ADHD manifests in the following way: I have to be multi-tasking. I cannot focus on one single thing at a time. If I try to do that, I become restless, my mind wanders too easily, and I’m just overall a very unhappy bunny. I think this is one of the many reasons I am fortunate for having chosen the media industry — specifically post-production — as a career choice, given that it requires my brain to be focusing upon a myriad of small details all at once.

This need continues into my reading. I do not deny the idea of “losing oneself” in a book — I think that’s a great moment of brain-related multitasking: my brain is simultaneously intaking/comprehending/decoding the words upon a page and having them make sense, but is also running an entire visual film in my head of the process. It’s brilliant!

But there’s more — which brings me to the topic of audiobooks.

Some people love them, others loathe them. I have a friendly relationship with audiobooks. I listen to them all the time — in the car, at the gym, at home, at work — and I don’t usually stop unless I feel I must. I am fortunate enough that my career focuses on me working with headphones on virtually all the time, so I can run an audiobook in the background of my machine while I’m working on my edits. I may pause it from time to time if I need to do some serious audio editing, but by and large it’ll run, unobtrusively, behind everything that I do. So that’s around 9 hours each day I spend “reading” while working.

Add to that the fact that I don’t listen to audiobooks at normal speed, with very few exceptions.

I can tell you the book that forever helped me embrace the faster-read audiobook: I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella. The reader was a brilliant choice for that book and, as it neared one of its two romantic climaxes near the end, I got antsy. The reader was not getting there fast enough. So I ramped and ramped the speed until I was listening to about 2-2.5x speed. This actually suited the novel perfectly and it only took a few moments for me to adjust to the change in pace.

When I listen to audiobooks now — again, with very few exceptions — I immediately start them at 2x speed. I don’t do this as a way to cut down the time I spend in the book because, contrary to what some may think, I read for pleasure and, as such, take great pleasure out of soaking in a novel. No, I do this because I have now become accustomed to it; listening at normal speed is torturous to me as, like the Borg in Star Trek, I’ve adapted to this heightened reading pace and, therefore, feel like I’m dragging a ball and chain if you force me to listen at normal speed. Again, there are a few exceptions, but this is the general rule for when I read.

As you can imagine, this means my non-listening reading pace is actually fairly rapid. This was something I knew even as a child because my parents were always astonished with how quickly I could finish the books they would give me. They used to time me each year that a new Harry Potter novel came out, like it was a game. But I never read for speed: I just read because I wanted to, and I can’t really help how quickly I read. Some people always wonder how they can read faster and, I’m afraid I can’t really help you there — but I can tell you what I’ve gathered about the way my own eye sees a page.

I’m what you would call a “block reader”, as in: I don’t read word-by-word, line-by-line. I take the page in chunks — not even proper chunks, at that! My eye scans all over the page in random-seeming grids. I might read the very last word of the page before I even get to the top or the middle, dependent upon where my eye starts. But it makes sense to me; my brain will have already started calculating this series of blocks into a proper image of the page and poof! I feel like I’m reading like it were word-by-word and line-by-line. This isn’t something I was taught, nor something I could possibly try to teach…it’s just something that I do.

And now we come to the kicker. The one thing that I do that irritates and befuddles people I know more than anything: I can physically read and listen to two completely separate books at the same time.

I’m sure you’re sitting back and thinking: What? Nobody can actually do that!

Let me explain.

I don’t do this often, as I rarely have the leisure to actually just sit and read this way. It requires a good deal of concentration — similar, I suppose, to the state of mind people describe when they are meditating. I probably look something like a statue, save for the flipping/turning of pages, when I’m reading like this and it’s very likely I won’t respond to much outside stimuli because i’m entirely focused on what I’m doing.

Besides that, I pick and choose the books for which I do this carefully. Usually one of the two books is one upon which I don’t feel the need to focus particularly hard — my attention will divide something like 60/40 in favour of whichever of the two books I feel the need to really dig into like some kind of literary archeologist or even in just a scholarly manner. My brain doesn’t just turn off because I’m reading for leisure. Trust me when I say I’m that kid who, even as I read, analyzes everything. It’s not something I can turn off or just stop doing; it’s a part of the multi-tasking/story-intaking experience for me.

Here endeth the tour of my reading brain. It fascinates some, it baffles others — most of the time, it just makes my friends and family shake their heads. I shall depart you now, to return to the world of the current book I am consuming, and do my best to complete my challenge.

Happy Reading!

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