Tuesday, 16 June 2009


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.


  1. Sounds like a great mix. Sometimes I think reading should be like a cocktail or recipe--a mix of different genres to keep things interesting. And I agree it is difficult to read multiple titles at once....but sometimes good when you need a break.
    So many people seem to be blogging about books right now--must be the summer!

  2. Great post, love to read books too. but unfortunately, i don't have enough time to read now! Ahhgg, want some break here..

    A Writers Den
    The Brown Mestizo

  3. I'm always reading several books at once. My husband finds it most peculiar.

  4. I have six books going right now. It works for me.

  5. I find it hard to read more than two things. I have a small pile of books I intended to finish... I'm much more diligent if it is from the library.

  6. I've never tried reading more than one- or in fact I think I did in Uni (and didn't finish any!)

    I'm trying a war novel now recommended by my Dad. I'm enjoying it actually and I have so many opinions ready to hit him with in the post book discussion!

    PS thanks for your kind comment but seriously, it is the magic of Bobbi Brown!

  7. i picked tolstoy's war and peace for my summer reading. problem is it's so heavy i can't take it on my subway commute, so i've been getting through it pretty slowly (as in, i'm about halfway through the introduction!). those russian names get me every time...