How Many Books Do You Read at a Time?

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.

2 Comments on “How Many Books Do You Read at a Time?

  1. 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.

  2. Borders is nothing compared to the thrill of the hunt in the used book stores. Not to mention the library book sales.

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