Book Juggler; or how I became a polygamist reader

The little kitten ‘Marie’, in Disney’s Aristocats, once said:

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If the same principal was to be applied to projects, I’m certainly not a lady. I have so many boxes filled with started projects and discarded projects, remnants of ideas and plans unfulfilled, and an even longer list of projects I’ve yet to start – waiting for me to either become realistic about them, or gather enough energy to kick-start them. All this is me saying I’ve definitely had the mentality of easy-to-start harder-to-finish since my younger years but it’s only in more recent years that this has translated into my reading life.

To be honest, it’s more surprising to me that this hasn’t always been the case. I love to learn and I don’t think this is something new to me. I used to make encyclopedias of sorts on topics ranging from Sailor Moon to dogs. I like collecting information, I like learning about new things – and I think that is one of the reasons I’ve always been inclined towards language learning, because learning a new language is a key opening doors otherwise locked and hence the access to ever more information. Books are obviously a great way to gain much knowledge and information, both in the way of nonfiction and the fictional stories. Not only would I say that books teach readers things of all kinds, but for me at least books have been key in creating new interests too. I just recently read a nonfiction book about foxes and one on butterflies and I am now on the look-out for basically any and all nonfiction titles on animals. Reading books (among other things) shape where my interests lie, where I want to gather more knowledge, what gap in my understanding I want to fill.

Reading more books than one at the same time feels like a continuation of the project-starting mentality, but also the wish to learn everything as soon as possible. As soon as possible is of course – now. Clearly there’s a practicality to consider here. Even though I want to read all of the books ever published in the Japanese language, or all of the books on the Rory Gilmore reading challenge list, I can’t read them all today, or this month, or even this year. I’m not a miraculously fast reader, nor do I spend every waking hour reading. All the same I get the urge to start a new book about twice a day, sometimes I hold on until I am finished with one and then add a new one to my currently-reading pile but other times I can’t hold on the self-control. I think what it comes down to is that I spend a lot of my free-time either reading, listening to book related podcasts or watching booktube, and surfing book-related websites like Goodreads. I am daily drowning in book recommendations and book lists of all sorts – from the type that are genre specific to ‘2017 best new releases’ or even upcoming titles. Because I hear about so many books, it’s harder to ignore the other books that are calling to me, other than the one I am actively reading.

I guess this is all just me saying that when I was younger I read a book at a time because I was mostly reading on my own, I didn’t really have any friends to share my love for reading. I would go to the library after school and hang around for a few hours before going home. Sometimes I’d even read the entire book while I was at the library, although they were mostly comics. While I have certainly had people in my life who enjoy reading, and people who have made me a reader in the first place, there weren’t many active readers in my life until I started spending time within the bookish community on the internet. Suddenly I was breathing books, and as a result it became harder to keep my focus on one volume at a time, to keep all the other books at bay.

Aside from the obvious lack of self-control and distraction-focus issues that are linked to the whole polygamist reader gig, there are actually a few real benefits with reading more books than one at a time. The main thing is that I’m a mood reader and if I have a book for every mood I can enjoy the books I’m reading to the fullest – at least theoretically. The other thing is that some books are physically more practical in different situations and different times of the day. So while I tend to read the heavy hardcovers when I’m sitting by a table, I read the paperbacks in bed. I will listen to audiobooks while I do my knitting, and I will sometimes read e-books while I’m eating. The reasons are all because they are most comfortable; hardcovers put on the table, paperbacks to hold in the air, audiobooks when my hands are busy, and e-books are easier to turn pages on.

So in the end, while I do at times reminisce about the time when I could focus solely on one book and give it my undivided attention, I’m also coming to an acceptance of my changing reading habits and reader persona. I think the only thing that could change this facet of my reading life would be if I suddenly increased my reading speed so much that I could finish a book before I got that urge to pick up another one. I wonder if that day will ever come. Are you a strict monogamist reader or do you juggle books like me? And are there any specific requirements for books you read at the same time? For example, I know many people read one nonfiction and one fiction book at the same time.

Until next time, happy reading!

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