Reading Habits – Choosing Books Or Manga?

Hyouka book

This post has absolutely nothing to do with music. Sadly, nor Hyouka.

I’ve always loved reading. I became a book addict at a very young age, and my love of reading has continued through primary school, high school and uni (where I am now). Discovering anime, and by extension manga in late 2010 has given me even more reading material. However, my manga revelation unfortunately coincided with an increased workload, which sadly continues to this day. This meant I needed to figure out a way to balance my book and manga reading.

Like anime fans who watch multiple series simultaneously, I read multiple books/manga simultaneously. Um, am I weird for doing this? Currently, the books I’m reading are Steven Erikson’s The Bonehunters and The Black Company by Glen Cook (this one’s kinda on hold). On the manga front, I’m doing my School Rumble re-read plus have about five other random series on the go.  How do I decide which one to read? Mostly, it depends on two, somewhat related factors: how much free time I have, and what my mood is.

When I have more free time, I like to get into something more complex. Many of the books I read are big, fat fantasy novels (exotic war books as my sister is wont to say), overflowing with pages and often with tangled plots and large casts, and requiring a decent amount of effort be invested to keep up with the story. If I’m busy with uni, frankly I can’t be stuffed reading them – they require energy that’s already been leached away by towers of homework (although I have found a workaround: read before classes start when I’m still fresh). This means during term time, I have a tendency to read more manga than novels. However, on weekends and semester breaks (like now, hooray!) I have more time, and the Book-Reading Express is free to speed away.

Chihaya has a revelation

I also mentioned mood was a factor, and that it was related to free time. Uni is a bit stressful, due to the busy schedule (hence lack of time). Wah! While many of the books I read have darker content, the manga that I follow is often lighter. I find that reading light-hearted manga brightens my mood, and is a bit of a stress-reliever. I’ve got an e-reader, and I enjoy reading manga on the bus home to relax. Alternatively, if my mood is happier, I’m more likely to be cool with diving into a gloomy book.

A few other things affect whether I choose books or manga. I get books from the library, which is conveniently close. Because I can borrow multiple thick books, I only have to go now and then, which is rather nice. On the other hand, I often acquire my manga through *cough cough* less than legal means, like Mangatraders (although recently all the libraries in our state have joined together under one system, which I can pillage for manga). I prefer reading the manga I download on my e-reader (as opposed to the computer) because it’s better on the eyes, but downloading is slow, and I only end up doing it occasionally. Also, reading manga is fast, meaning I run out quickly too. One point for books.

However, manga does have things going in its favour. Some manga, especially my cheery comedy favourites such as School Rumble or GTO manage to suck me in with their strangely addictive charm, leaving me thirsting for more and searching for the next volume. While I have experienced this with books, it’s less common, mostly because the type I read are rather heavy, and as I said above, require a good deal of effort to read. This doesn’t happen with all manga, though.

For me, whether I choose to read books or manga mainly depends on my mood and how much free time I have. Do those of you who read both favour one or the other? And if you read Visual Novels, how do they fit in?



-After writing this, I realised it was rather similar to one of Yumeka’s posts. Oh poo.

School Rumble is awesome. If you haven’t read it, do so ASAP.

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10 Responses to Reading Habits – Choosing Books Or Manga?

  1. SkyCorps says:

    I’m more the type who reads books, as I’ve probably only read 2 different manga cover to cover. Given the chance once more I’d probably check out some manga once again as I’m always looking for something new to read.

    I’m also into comic books too (Batman comics obviously) but I can’t say I’ve read every single one ever made. I’ve wanted to try out Visual Novels, but every time I think about trying out a VN, I always end up assuming they’re all eroge or something of the like. I know there are other VNs out there besides that, but I just never put in the time to look for them.

    Nice post though, I enjoyed it!


    • 123 says:

      I’m sure there’s some manga out there that you would enjoy :-). Haven’t read too many comic books though. My VN experience was a short one. I tried Saya no Uta, but was put off by certain scenes.
      Glad you enjoyed it!

  2. Interesting post! For me, in general, I tend to lean towards reading books more than manga for some reason. My mood plays a part in what kind of book I would choose to read as well! But unlike you, I choose so that my mood matches the genre. For example, I’d read a nice romance novel if I’m feeling happy, but I’d probably read something dark (like a dystopian novel, or a thriller) if I’m feeling not-so-happy, lol. Actually, even time of day influences what I read. Referencing the aforementioned, a nice romance novel is more likely to be read in the day, whilst a dystopian or thriller is more for the night… Yes, I’m all for matching.

    And also, lol, that tag… ‘does anyone even read these tags?’ 😀

    • 123 says:

      Matching is good too! Some of my friends are like that (though with music, not books), they might listen to a heavy metal song if they’re angry or a pop song if they’re happy. I suppose we all use media in different ways to preserve or alter our moods. Time of day… never really thought about that. I’m just a do-it-whenever kind of guy ^.^

  3. Silvachief says:

    Ooh! A post I can comment on 😉

    I’m pretty much the same as you, actually. I’ve always loved books, to the point where I never went anywhere without one in my younger years. Fantasy is also my genre of choice but I delve in Sci-Fi and regular Thriller stuff occasionally. During uni time, though, i’ve started reading manga just because it’s easier to pick up and I can read in short bursts. I actually work at a library, so I get to have a say as to which manga titles we get in because nobody else working there knows anything about manga ^_^ Having said that, our selection is pretty bad because i’m away for most of the year.

    Mood…doesn’t have much to do with my reading. Even if i’m not in the mood for a certain type I book I usually push through it and end up enjoying it anyway.

    • 123 says:

      Fellow book lovers, woo! And you work at a library? That’s cool!
      Yup, manga is easy to pick up and read in short bursts. For me, it’s partly because the chapters are short, and chapter breaks are a good place to stop, so it’s easy to read on the go.

  4. Artemis says:

    I’ve read a few manga before and have even bought a couple of titles, but as a whole I’m just not interested in manga as a medium, just as I’m not particularly interested in Western comics (or Japanese light novels come to think of it). I don’t really know why this is, but given how much time and money I give to my anime hobby as it is, the fact that I’m not really into manga is probably a good thing. However, I do still have an enormous love for reading in general – especially when it comes to fantasy and historical fiction novels.

    • 123 says:

      Haha, manga’s not for everyone I suppose. Even though I’m on holidays now, I’m still finding it hard to get enough time to read manga. So if you’re not so keen on it, sounds you’ve got the right thing going by devoting your time to the things you really enjoy.

  5. Lambda says:

    I apologize in advance for the late longish comment, but this was an interesting article…

    I favour manga heavily, mainly because I just read it online and can convince myself that I can just read 1 chapter and then do what I have to (not that that ever works…). Books make me feel like I have to commit. As well, investing time into a chapter of manga to see if it’s my thing is wonderfully painless (or painful depending on the subject matter I guess). I can randomly roam, read a chapter, get sucked in and read the rest if I want to. My mood chooses the genre for me, at points I feel like reading every story of shounen manga friendship the site has to offer and at others I decide to full fujoshi.

    Books also make me feel like they’re supposed to be something grand, and I take a much heavier stance critiquing them. No, most of them are probably not worse than that BL manga I really enjoyed. Oh well. I do still read books from time to time, though. Mainly on holidays when I can justify it to myself in a less than serious mood.

    Visual novels depends… if I stream them off of youtube then they go alongside whatever I’m reading manga-wise or watching anime-wise. This results in me reading them in a lot longer of a time than they’re meant to be read (I’ve been reading Grisaia for 5 months oops). If I download them, I drop everything I’m reading to full clear them. I kinda end up treating them like a book if they’re streaming and a manga if it’s downloaded when it comes to the mood I need to be in to watch them, if that makes sense. If they’re streaming I feel the need to convince myself to watch a 45 minute video, so I pick up other things that can be read in less time. If they aren’t I feel like I can just play a scene and then stop.

  6. 123 says:

    Don’t apologise, people like you who comment make me want to keep blogging!! 🙂

    I favour manga heavily, mainly because I just read it online and can convince myself that I can just read 1 chapter and then do what I have to (not that that ever works…).

    Yes, that reminds me of myself ^^. Oh, just one more… just one more…. just one more. I suppose your way of reading makes you more susceptible to this though, since I’m kinda limited by the number of volumes I download (usually low).

    Books also make me feel like they’re supposed to be something grand, and I take a much heavier stance critiquing them.

    Haha probably depends on what type you mean. But yes, quite a lot of books feel like that. Sometimes though, I feel books should be “better”. Or at least have more flaws removed. Maybe I have poor reasoning behind this, but with all the editing that goes on with books, shouldn’t they be? As opposed to a manga artist who has to be on a tighter schedule. Lol I probs don’t know what I’m talking about.

    Also thanks for filling me in on your Visual Novel habits. My experience with VNs is literally one hour and I know pretty much zip about them.

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