Julia Keller, the literary critic at the Chicago Tribune, wrote a piece about reading more than one book at a time. She says that she has about a half dozen “active” books at a time. There is some debate, of course, over whether “serious readers” have this habit. I like what she has to say:
Serial reading — the act of plowing through a single book without pausing to read anything else — seems quaint these days, and maybe impossible. We exist amid an extraordinary cultural cornucopia. We live in a world of joyful multitasking. There is more great literature being produced in the world today than at any other moment in history.
Generally, I am reading two books at any given time. One is on my desk at home and the other is in my bag. Because I haven’t found a clean way to post more than one on my blog, I put whichever I expect to finish next in my “What I’m Reading Now”. Obviously, I am having a problem with Dostoevsky.
However, I also have several other unfinished books lying around my house. Bill Clinton’s autobiography has been sitting in my bookcase for about ever. You might remember that I read up to the day he met Hillary and had to put it down. I will get back to it. I also have Oswald’s Tale, by Norman Mailer, sitting up here. I will probably finish that, too. Eventually. Oh, and Memories of John Lennon. It is a book of vignettes that I read while I was on school – it didn’t require any commitment. So I didn’t give it much.
The ones downstairs are less likely. There is a history book – documenting the death of Queen Victoria. It was ok, just not a page turner. And the book from the professor of that non-violence class at Berkeley that I found on Academic Earth. Stalled out on that while I was still watching 24.
The thing is, there are so, so many books to read. Some that I should read and some that I want to read and some that is just brain candy. No kidding, I find it easier to find books to buy than to choose, among all of the books in my house, what I should read next.
Maybe I should get the heck off the Internet and go do that.
I have the same problem! I have a serious addiction to Borders, but the books stack up on my shelves until I decide to read them. I can't read more than one book at once, though, so it takes me a bit longer. I've bought a few books for my iPad, but I find I really prefer the feel, smell, etc. of reading a real paper book.
Borders is nothing compared to the thrill of the hunt in the used book stores. Not to mention the library book sales.