It Might Look Like a Hot Mess--by Kimberly Sabatini

This month at YA Outside the Lines we are talking about how we read.

If you go way back, you'd find I've always read voraciously. One book at a time--from cover to cover. I'd bring a paper grocery bag to the library and fill it. Then I'd waddle home and dig in. When I got to the bottom, I'd fill it back up and trade it in for a new bag.

One of the happiest memories of moving into my new house in the 5th grade was finding out my bedroom had a built in bookcase to house my treasures. Books!

Whether it was a library run or pulling my favorites off my own shelves, I read as many books as I could get my hands on and reread all of my favorites over and over again--one book at a time from cover to cover.

This pattern lasted until I had kids and became a writer. Those two events are uber catalysts for change.

Now my reading style looks like a hot mess. I'm all over the place, reading 10-15 books at once. What happened? At first glance it all looks so unorganized. Kind of like my kitchen junk drawer or maybe I'll my drawers and most of my closets. And don't forget the garage. But the truth is there is a method to my madness and I kind of like it.

Here's how I read now...

*At night, in bed, I love reading good old fashioned books with a book light attached. I've been doing it this way for as long as I can remember. When the covers come up and the lights go out, I pull from the stack of books on my night stand. (That stack is big enough to be a night stand.) And I don't think it's going to get smaller. Just looking at it makes me want to sit home and read all day--and get to bed earlier.

*I also like to have a book with me at all times--ya know--for emergencies. Long bank line? Whip out a book or a twenty, because you can do that with an e-reader! And the cover won't get crinkled in your bag.

*Because I'm actually a slow reader, I LOVE audiobooks. They allow me to read while doing other things. I listen to books while I'm driving, folding laundry, running and I even have a mini-speaker so I can listen while I'm in the shower. Lather up and tell me a story. And I love listening to a great voice, it takes the book to a whole other level.

*One of my favorite things in the world is to read books aloud to my boys. (Yes, I do voices.) Don't ask me to bake with them or do crafts. Not my thing. But I usually read to them every night for 30-60 minutes with 3-4 different books going at once. They love it. I love it. It's my idea of perfection. We also have an audiobook we listen to in the car when we're all together.

*Additionally, I like to always be reading a book on the craft of writing. It might be a nuts and bolts book that teaches me mechanics. Or it might be highly inspirational. Either way, I always have at least one of those books in progress, even if it takes me a while to get through it.

*Similarly, I also seem to find a variety of other non-fiction books that interest me. Sometimes I read them on recommendation. Other times they are for research for a manuscript I'm writing. Other times they are motivational also. Some times it's as simple as paying attention to what keeps crossing my path and realizing that I keep seeing it or hearing about it for a reason.

*Somewhere in this mix is also some adult fiction. I love MG and YA and read it profusely, but I also think there is value in reading fantastic adult literature, too. (The key word is fantastic) I just finished the audio version of A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS and the personal and professional take-aways were immense.

*In the past I read solely as a fan-girl. Now I also read as a writer and most of the time, I wear both hats, although there are books where I am so wrapped up in the moment, I need to return to the book later in order to fully grow as a writer.

*As and author, I also have the pleasure of reading advanced copies of books for review. I've clearly explained in the past that I do not negatively review. It's not something I'm comfortable doing as an author, but I do enjoy actively promoting books I LOVE. And know that if you hear me say something wonderful about a book, I've meant it. I've got a lot of love to share.

*I no longer reread favorites the way I used to. *sniff* I think this because there is so much I want to read and not enough time to take it all in. But on the flip side, I always used to finish every book I started, even books I didn't like. Now I've started giving myself permission to DNF books that are taking away time from books I want or need to be reading.

And there you have it--how I read. Maybe it's a hot mess and maybe it isn't. All I know is it's what currently works for me. And at the end of the day, I'm reading and loving books.

What's the quirkiest way you read? Tell me so we can be a hot mess together.


  1. "This pattern lasted until I had kids and became a writer. Those two events are uber catalysts for change." Man, truer words were never written!!! I read most of those ways you describe and I sure miss re-reading my faves. ADORE reading to me kids (of course with voices ;) ) And my all time favorite way? In the bathtub!!! I've been known to just shut the shower curtain because I'm gonna be a while and my peeps can come in and out to pee or explain other emergencies at will, but nothin's gettin' me out until I find a good stopping point, lol. Even AxlBlue, God bless him, when he was still with us, would come home, sit on the toity and discuss what casserole he could put in the oven, "since you're reading." Thank goodness good books are easier to find than a good man, huh? <3

    1. We are like long lost twinsies. (((((hugs)))))

    2. Awwwww {{{{{{supersistermamawriterhugs}}}}}}}}}

  2. I miss reading to my kids *sniff* And since I'm not quite to the point of reading to my cats, so I try to sometimes read the same books my daughters have read so we can talk about them. Not the same as snuggling under the covers though!

    1. Oh, that's a great idea. Yes, not as snuggly but still connected. *files that away*

    2. I read the books my Grandmothers are reading so we can talk about them. They each read to me as a child. I spent a month with my Grammy in Chicago each summer and lived next door to my MomMom in St. Louis. It's not the same, but it is good. I'm glad we still have this connection.

    3. That is so sweet. I miss my Grandmas. :(

  3. I am so with you--I'm a hot mess, too...

  4. I’m so jealous of your built-in book shelf from fifth grade. I still aspire to find a place with one. Maybe when we are ready to buy a house here in Seattle. As for quirks, hmm I still can’t read books on an e-reader, or I can’t get lost in them the way I can physical books. I think this may be because I use my Kindle to read critique partner manuscripts and student work, so it’s like my critical thinking space.

    1. That's really interesting. I have no trouble reading on a Kindle, but I find I have trouble with books I take notes on. It doesn't have that same flipability that I want. I adore marking up a book I love with pen and emotion.

  5. Always room for more hot messes. (((hugs)))


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