Thursday, May 22, 2014

On Simultaneous Reading of Multiple Books

As a reader, I used to be a serial monogamist. If I started a book, I stuck with it and didn't start reading anything else until I finished it. Now I typically have four or five books going at the same time. Maybe it's because I don't concentrate as well as I used to, and I get more read by swapping around. Maybe it's just because I have many different book-delivery devices, and I feel compelled to use all of them.

When I started adding up all the books I'm reading at the moment, I scared myself a little.

1.     One of my current projects is re-reading all my books on writing. I like to read a chapter as kind of a warm up to working on my "morning pages" (if you don't know the term, think journal).  I don't manage every day; sometimes weeks go by. But when I can find some time to linger over my morning coffee, that's what I like to do to help organize my brain.

I've just started working my way through Ursula LeGuin's book, "Steering the Craft." She has such amazing skill with the English language. Once again I am awestruck when she shows how a conceptually small change in verb tense or POV changes everything about a passage.

2.     I always have an audiobook going, mostly for when I'm driving. Listening to a good story helps me overlook the stupidity of everyone else on the road. I'm entertained, so I can be patient and gracious.

At the moment, I'm listening to "The Plantagenets" by Dan Jones. It's a recent book and as part of my Plantagenets project makes an interesting comparison to Thomas B. Costain's series.

3.     On my nightstand, I like to have a book going that is enjoyable, but not too demanding to follow as I'm getting ready to go to sleep. My current nightstand book is an old favorite: "The House on the Strand," by Daphne DuMarier. Set in Cornwall, features time travel in the form of a mind-bending drug, and told by an unreliable narrator – a checklist of things I like in a book I'm reading for entertainment. Not to mention that the time travel is back to the Plantagenet era, and so fits with my current reading theme too.

4.     On my Kindle, I'm working on "Vampires in the Lemon Grove," by Karen Russell. I tend to throw my Kindle in my purse when I'm going somewhere I know I'll probably have time to kill – commuting on BART, a doctor's office, or the hairdresser's. A volume of short stories is perfect, because I can finish one and pick up another at a later date without losing the thread of a novel.

5.     On my other Kindle, a Fire HD, I mostly keep books with pictures to take advantage of the color capabilities. Travel books and cook books live there. I'm also slowly slogging my way through Anne Somerset's biography of Britain's Queen Anne. While I'm interested in learning more about the period, sadly Anne herself comes across as having been rather tedious and peevish.

6.     Last but not least, I have both Kindle and Nook apps on my phone. I usually have something downloaded there so I don't panic if I get caught out somewhere with nothing to read. I'm just starting "Rabid," Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy's book about the cultural history of rabies.

How about you? Done a "currently reading" inventory lately?

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