Thursday, March 26, 2009

Between the Covers

Although my husband has done this seamlessly for as far back as I can remember, I have only recently been able, or saw fit, to read more than one book at a time. Of course, I don’t mean actually simultaneously, but more in the I-could-grab-any-one-of-these-and-continue-reading-and-it-would-still-make-sense sense.

Rather than confusing me, as I thought it most definitely would, the multiple book strategy gives me two distinct advantages to my previously one-book-to-finish paradigm: 1) I can prioritize my reading time, and 2) I always have something I want to read on hand. Apparently, my late adoption notwithstanding, this multiple-book strategy is wildly popular.

Recently, a friend of mine lent me Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope in order that I might comply with her “emergency Victorian novel” recommendation which holds that everyone must have one in the car for those times when you get stuck somewhere (Stephen has always practiced his own “emergency Russian pocket novel” habit). Luckily, I have had no need of it yet, for the following is a list of the several books, kept in different places, in which I am somewhere between the covers but intend to get to the end.

The order in which I began to read them:
(Range: more than a year ago – yesterday)

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King
Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand by Leonard Peikoff
Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt
W.B. Yeats: Selected Poems
The War of the Worlds by H.G.Wells
Whatever Happened to Justice?, by Richard Maybury
The Forgotten Man, by Amity Shlaes

The order in which I am likely to finish them:
(Range: today – years from now)

Whatever Happened to Justice?
Economics in One Lesson
The Forgotten Man
The War of the Worlds

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice*
Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand

W.B. Yeats: Selected Poems

*While I've read many novels since I began to read The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, I have only recently recommitted myself to the idea of reading it.

Obviously, I have always been able to distinguish between reference books and those which should be read cover to cover. However, reading and absorbing the material presented in non-fiction books s l o w l y is relatively new to me, as is the idea that reading multiple books of less weighty material dealing with non-related subject matter can be accomplished at the same time. When the ideas are related, it’s plain fun to compare and contrast them on the fly!

The multiple book strategy, while having its advantages, does not cure lack of focus. Clearly, even with this varied list, I prefer to write about these books rather than read them at this moment.

What’s on your list of Books in Which you are Currently Between the Covers?

2 comments:

Beth said...

I've done this for years. Partly because I read the tougher stuff when I am awake in the morning, and save the easier stuff for at night to help my mind slow down long enough to go to sleep.
Here's my list:
Day-time reading
Capitalism by George Reisman
Return of Depression Economics by Paul Krugman
Up From History: the life of Booker T Washington by Robert Norrell
In the car on CD: A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam
And by my bed: The Reader by Bernhard Schlinkand

I suspect I will finish them in reverse order.
Looking at this list, I need something more up-lifting. Any suggestions?

LB said...

All of your Supreme Court recommendations are at the library waiting for me right now! I'll never read something light again!

I thought The Reader was very thought-provoking a while back. I plan to see the movie at some point.

How about The Girl with no Shadow by Joanne Harris who wrote Chocolat? Then you can let me know how you liked it, so maybe I'll actually read it the next time I take it out of the library.