Joshua S. Hill says that by reading more than one book at once, you can always have a book on hand to match your mood while sharpening your mind.
Reading is very much a part of my life. There is very little that is not influenced by my desire or need to read. My chosen career is to write books. I read books as research to write other books. I read books to review them to earn a little bit of money — or simply to get out of having to buy them in the first place.
I dislike the idea of only reading one thing at a time. I may need to read one book to review it, another for research on a project I’m writing, and I’ll obviously need something to just relax into.
That is why the small table that sits next to my comfy chair should probably be reinforced. There are a lot of books on it at the moment — seven, as I look over my shoulder and count. And, of course the book table sits in front of a small four-cube bookshelf which contains at least another dozen books.
These two pieces of furniture make up a very small portion of my library, but they will be the focus. Because I’m a bit of an OCD reader, I need to have what I’m reading, or want to read next, near me. Separate. Away from the main library, so to speak, and their brethren and close to me so that I know how fast I have to be reading.
There is something really fun about reading multiple books at once.
For example, I am currently reading Goldfinger by Ian Fleming as well as the Captain America Lives Omnibus. Underneath Cap is I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett, waiting and ready for a reread. Underneath Goldfinger is The Last Run by Greg Rucka and The Defence of the Realm: The Authorized History of MI5 by Christopher Andrew. I’ve also got 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die and a guide to horses that I’m randomly looking at for research. And I think there is J. R. R. Tolkien: Author of the Century by Tom Shippey as well, though that might be on the shelf, it’s hard to see from here.
So at any moment I pretty much have something to read that will complement my mood.
Feel like some action? Go to Goldfinger? Nope, want some superhero action, so out comes Cap America. Want to lose myself in a classic? Pratchett is right there for me. Feel like doing some research on horses and how to properly tack them? Got that covered. Want to check up on Burgess and Maclean, because Ian Fleming mentions them from time to time? Pull out the mammoth bible of a book that is The Defence of the Realm.
I’m well aware that the ability to read more than one book at a time is not necessarily available to everybody. I’ve known enough people who have trouble reading one book a year, let alone three at once. And even those who read over 50 books a year sometimes can’t manage to read two of them at once, because that’s just not how their heads work.
But if you haven’t tried it, then you really should. Why? Because there is something really fun about being able to jump from one topic to another. Knowing that your head is able to do that multitasking, is able to keep track of several threads at once. It leaves you with a healthy confidence in yourself.
And, I think it also keeps you sharp. When you make your head work that hard, keeping all those facts in there and in order without jumbling Burgess and Maclean with Bucky Barnes, it will help later on in life when your brain wants to just have a quiet night in front of the fire.
So give it a shot. I love it, and you don’t always have to have fourteen books on the go. But just give it a try, and see how you go. I tell you, there’s no regrets here, only the chance to gain a lot of enjoyment.
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