There seem to be two types of readers. Those who read one book at a time, and those who don’t. I definitely fall in the latter category. I tend to have about ten books on the go at any one time.
People often say to me, “I can’t do that, I’d get the characters and plotlines muddled up.” I really have NEVER done this. Unless you are reading very similar books, I can’t imagine how you’d get confused. Let’s compare it with TV to see what I mean. If I enjoy an episode of Death in Paradise on telly I don’t need to wait for the series to end so I can bulk watch it before viewing anything else. I am perfectly capable of watching an episode of Coronation Street or Doctor Who half an hour later and not muddle up the characters or plots. I feel the same about books.
I don’t suggest starting everything you fancy the moment you buy it. As someone with two hundred and thirty three books on my To-Be-Read-Own list, this would be a disaster. But I switch books books between different contexts all the time. Here are some of my contexts.
The Highbrow Read
When I was a teenager they opened up a Waterstones in Swansea. Before this I only really remember obtaining books in the library, charity shops or the once-yearly trip my family made to Hay-On-Wye. The cheapest books they sold were Wordsworth Classics. In reading them purely because they were affordable, I discovered I really enjoyed classics, and they made me feel “well read”. That’s still a goal of mine, so I tend to have one classic on the go at any one time.
The Trashy Read
I can’t read highbrow all the time. Well done if you can. I always have to have a silly prawn cocktail crisp book on the go. Then when I’m tired, I’m grumpy or just brain dead, I can still read. If a highbrow book is heavy going (Virginia Woolf, I’m talking about you) I sometimes alternate chapters of one with the other.
The Non-Fiction Read
I like learning and I’ve got this weird brain where nearly everything is interesting. I bet hubcaps would be fascinating to read about if you were starting a collection. I’ve read books about the human genome, spy technology in world war two, why open offices are a terrible idea, how everyday Victorians lived their lives. I also love a bit of self-improvement, so books on organisation, vintage housekeeping and fashion all appeal. I can’t imagine reading a non-fiction book all the way through without reading anything else though.
The Audio “Read”
Audio books were a main feature of my last blog post about fitting more reading into your life. There are lots of jobs where your hands and eyes are busy but your brain and ears are not. Cooking, cleaning, gardening, travelling for example. I have earbuds for walking and I just stick my phone in a saucepan lid while I’m in the kitchen. It amplifies the volume enough so I can hear it over the extractor fan. Several people have told me that audio books are the only thing that helped them sleep during times of grief or anxiety.
The Shared Audio “Read”
Because I regularly drive with my husband in the car, we always have a shared audio book on the go. This means neither of us have to listen to the other person’s audio book part way through. At New Year, I started another new audio book because we were driving to Cornwall and back with a friend in the car. When I drive my nephews somewhere I dig out the Enid Blyton audio books or Harry Potter.
The Poetry Read
I can’t read more than four pages of poetry a day. I just get cynical and hate everything I read past that point. I don’t know why this is.
The Comfort Re-Read
Sometimes I’m in a particular mood and I don’t want to try any new flavours, I want to know exactly what I am going to get. There are a few books I reread year on year. Including An Old Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott, A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I’ve re-read Pride and Prejudice a crazy amount of times.
The Bathtime Read
I always read in the bath. But not all books are bath books. I won’t read a Victorian clothback in the bath for instance. So if everything I am reading is audio or precious, I will just start a new bath suitable book.
The Because-I-Felt-Like-It Read
If I just don’t fancy anything I’m currently reading right now I’ll go ahead and start something I do fancy. Life is too short not to.
Here’s a list of my Currently Reading:
- Home Before Dark by Beverly Hastings (Trashy Read)
- Lyra Celtica: An Anthology of Representative Celtic Poetry by Elizabeth A. Sharp (Poetry Read)
- Swann’s Way (In Search of Lost Time, #1) by Marcel Proust (Highbrow Read, Bathtime Read)
- Dorothy L. Sayers: The Complete Stories (Bathtime Read, Because I-Felt-Like-It Read)
- City of Lies by Alafair Burke (Audio Read)
- Be Young with Yoga by Richard L. Hittleman (Non-Fiction Read)
- A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (Highbrow Read, Shared Audio Read)
I’m also reading our Ford Focus car manual. I just thought I might learn a thing or two…