I read several books at one time. I have no problem keeping the plot straight — the author’s “voice” comes through the pages loud and clear, and I can pick up the story line right where I left off, among the jumble of 5 books that are running through my head and hands at one time.
Books are a healer in a stressful world. When a title intrigues me, I am hooked, and my curiosity will not rest until I discover what the author has left between those two covers. Whether it is a cookbook, an autobiography, a fiction or self-help book, my life will be altered by those pages — I know this in advance. This is what attracts me to pick up the book.
This summer, I decided to “heal” this book reading ADHD, by picking up one single book off of the pile at a time, and not daring to move down the pile until that book was completed. In the morning, when I was tempted to pick up a new cover I had yet to explore, and peel back the cover and discover what the author had to share, I resisted the urge. I went back to the same book I was reading in bed the night before. I stayed the course — steady — one book at a time. I did this for one single entire book.
At the time, I attributed to my book reading cross-overs to logistics and laziness. We live in a house that has living space on four levels. The book I read on the fourth level at night isn’t around on the second level when I’m eating breakfast. My hands, in the morning, are full of laundry to carry to the basement — no room in my arms to carry last night’s book. So, in the kitchen, another book is waiting for me there to eat over breakfast. Another book sits in the living room by the sofa… and another book is in the bag I carry while waiting for doctor’s appointments.
Then, I met someone who reads her books on a Kindle. She too reads several books at one time — and her books are all in the same place! I asked her why — and she said, sometimes she gets restless, and she wants to know what’s going on in that book — and another book will lead her to something over here. She had no less than 7 books opened in her Kindle.
I pondered that… but continued my summer quest of reading one book from start to finish before moving on to the next intriguing cover.
I can’t do this one-book-at-a-time thing anymore! One book was enough — and I miss that book! If I had been reading more than one book at a time, I would still be reading that book — and it wouldn’t be over! I like the experience of reading a book… not just finishing one.
I refuse to continue this sterile process any longer. It’s robbing me of the pleasure I gain from reading. Reading one book at a time is far too lonely and isolating. Rushing through the book, just for the sake of getting to the end, so that I can move to the next book, cheapens the entire art of reading.
Just like the girl I met with the multi-book Kindle — it is not laziness or logistics that keeps me flipping through so many books at once. It is connection. I love how one book makes me think of some other topic, and the book I’m thinking about is there — so I open it up. I love giving an author’s thoughts time to peculate in my brain — while I move over to another book and gather strength from that author — and then going back to the first book that inspired the move in the first place.
Reading several books at once is like savoring a good meal. The book is not quickly over and done with — it becomes part of a mental conversation that I have in my brain with all of the authors I am reading — all at once.
Sometimes the ideas need time to percolate. To simmer on the back burner, because your brain is not quite ready to absorb the gifts the book can bring you. Moving to another book gives you space between your experience and the reading. Reading fast and furious, from finish to end, curtails this process from unfolding.
To give a book the prominence in your life it deserves — you need to draw away from the book for awhile– and then come back, with more insight and thoughts fully formed. I can’t imagine reading any other way.