For those who have read Storytellers already, this is Doctor Brynjólf’s bookshelf.
(Árbærsjafn Open Air Museum)

 

The always amazing Lydia Schoch:

My reading habits have evolved a lot over the years. In today’s post, I’m going to start with my earliest memories and share some stories about how my interests and habits have changed over time. […] How have your reading habits evolved over time? If anyone decides to borrow this topic and blog about it, I’ll edit this post to include a link to your response if you’re interested in that.

Challenge accepted!

 

Kid A

I taught myself to read at the age of four. I kept forcing my mum and grandparents to re-read the same children’s books to me over and over and over again, until they told me that by now I must have memorised them. Since they refused to re-re-re-read them for me, I took things in my own hands and discovered that 1) I had indeed memorised them, 2) I was able to figure out what letters meant, how they composed into words, then sentences. I didn’t know it was unusual for a four-year old to read, but I also didn’t know that some books were not suitable for kids.

I read everything we had at home. Once my grandparents and mum noticed, they bought more kids’ books, but not before I went through multiple crime stories, lots of sci-fi, various romance books, magazines such as A Woman and Life, catalogues – if it was written word, I read it. My biggest achievement was a MASSIVE tome Four Tank-Men and a Dog (I’m not sure whether that’s a correct translation, but the word does not appear in dictionaries), which I read for the first time around the age of six/seven. (A lot of it was Soviet propaganda, which of course I missed.) I also loved a series about a teenager who travelled around the world, discovering things, saving others, basically a teenage Indiana Jones. I had no idea racism even existed, so the disdainful descriptions of all races other than white completely passed me by. Winnetou was wonderfully homoerotic and my re-reads of that coincided with the period I discovered I was gay myself. The difference between my favourite books and all the others was that I read the favourites more than once. Generally if it had printed text in it, I read it.

I only became more discerning later…

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At the end of my book (NOT pictured above) you will find the following:

 

Thank you for reading Storytellers – I hope you enjoyed it.
I would be most grateful for a review or a comment on Amazon, Goodreads, or any other website of your choice. Takk fyrir!

 

You might have noticed similar requests in other authors’ books. Not just indie authors like me, but traditionally published writers whose books have their own shelves in Waterstones. Oddly, we don’t say “only leave GOOD reviews”, so… why? Is this some sort of a competition?

Why, it is! As of March 31, there were 3.4 million books in the Kindle store. That’s a lot of competition. Average sales of a debut novel are 100 copies within the first year and 500 copies within the book’s lifetime. This includes both J. K. Rowling and Jane Smith, whose sad story I tell below…

 

(in)Visibility

 

 

Jane Smith just self-published a novel called Rabbits Attack. The novel, which she worked on for eight years, sold 30 copies in its first week, 15 in week two, 2 in week three. Her heart sinks as Jane watches her sales drop. With a sigh, she opens her book’s page and notices something odd. Her book’s Amazon page lists… fifty-five other titles – and that’s with an ad-blocker! Those are divided between so-called “Also boughts”, “Customers also shopped for”, and “Customers who viewed this item also viewed” sections. So, on her own book’s page, Jane has fifty-five competitors. That’s more than the number of books she sold.

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Reading is dangerous. Addiction to books – expensive and time-consuming. Keep your kids away from books. Or they will fall in love with them and nothing will drag them back to Snapnite, Instabook, and drugs anymore.

 

My first book

I really wish I could remember more than that it was a kids’ book. Large print, illustrations, etc.

Every evening my Mum would sit with me and read me a book. Those were Communist days, which – you don’t see it coming – meant that there were PLENTY of books, they were cheap, subsidised by government, and a print run of 50 thousand meant the publisher was testing the waters. There was a series of kids’ books called “Poczytaj mi, Mamo” (“Read to me, Mom”) available. I had them all, as in all six or so, and Mum had to suffer through the same ones over and over again. I was a regular Calvin, knowing when she skipped even one word, and she worked two jobs. Eventually she got frustrated, told me “you know each of those books by heart, there’s no need to read them for you” and left me alone.

She was right – I really knew those books by heart. I quickly figured out how letters corresponded with phonems, then with words, and pretty soon I was reading other books. I didn’t know this was unusual – or that there were books that were not suitable for humans my age. I was four years old.

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