I have never successfully read more than one book at the same time. Occasionally, I manage to pull off one of the books in the group, but never all of them.
I think part of the problem is that I really only read fiction, and within that fiction it's pretty much all the same classics with the occasional unknown book which catches my eye. This means that I don't really have a motivation to read multiple books at the same time, because they are all offering me something quite similar in terms of what I get out of them.
But then I found myself with nothing to read, and unwilling to return to the pile of abandoned 'good' books quite yet, I picked up a collection of short stories which I'd never noticed on my shelves before (I never get it when people say that kind of thing about clothes in their wardrobes, but when I imagine that some peoples wardrobes are like their bookshelves, it's easier for me to relate to): Hotel Honolulu by Paul Theroux.
It's a nice change to be able to read something in the way I might watch some of my favourite TV series: CSI, House etc. The stories every time are different so it's perfect for a quick read over breakfast or to catch a quarter hour of fleeting sun. Yet the narrator, the cast of background characters and the setting remain consistent throughout, whilst some stories even link onto each other, mirroring the two-parters or story arcs which occur in a show whose episodes are otherwise completely separate.
So I am still enjoying Hotel Honolulu, which I haven't got bored of yet; probably thanks to the linking threads which make it harder to just abandon the book whenever I please. Even so, I took a trip to the bookshop to find a whole story to read, and came away with something else I have rarely attempted: Roots, in the biography section. I am not sure exactly how typical Roots could really be of the biographical genre, but it's a step in the right direction. Until now, I have only ever read a handful of artist biographies for a couple of art projects I did, back when I still had to take Art. Apart from that, I have read one (very good) biography of Roald Dahl by Jeremy Treglown, and that's it.
And then, when on a walk around the neighbourhood I reached the public library, I couldn't help popping in. With such a vast expanse of choice, most of it rubbish, I couldn't help gravitating to the far more select Classics section. I started reading EM Forster's A Room With a View the second I left the building, although I haven't picked it up since yesterday's walk.
So there you have it: three very different books, two out of my comfort zone and one which I really ought to read (I think it's even on my summer reading list which my school handed to us after completing our English exams). Now I am going to attempt something which I have never done before. I am going to try to read all three, at the same time. I'll let you know how long I last.