Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Salon: Book Polygamy

In the past two weeks, I've finished two books, which is fewer than I usually read. Despite only finishing two books, I've actually been reading more. I haven't been in a reading rut at all, and in fact the two books I have finished both earned five star ratings (the books: So Much for That by Lionel Shriver and Stiltsville by Susanna Daniel - review coming tomorrow.) What gives? I'm currently reading eight books. Yes, eight.

How did it happen? I'm not quite sure, but it's actually working for me. The impetus has been a variety of things: library due dates, convenience and mood. Most peculiarly, all of these books have been rocking my reading world. I seem to be suffering from premature separation anxiety, and it's keeping me from finishing books. Here's what has been competing for my attention these past two weeks:
Girls on the Verge: Debutante Dips, Drive-bys, and Other InitiationsThe Finkler QuestionGreat House: A NovelAn Elegy for Easterly: Stories
Remarkable Creatures: A NovelHow to Escape from a Leper Colony: A Novella and StoriesFinding NoufVery Valentine: A Novel
  • Girls on the Verge by Vendela Vida - I adored Vida's latest novel The Lovers, and her non-fiction exploration of the rituals American girls use to form their adult identity. It's lovely.
  • The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson - I didn't finish reading it before the Booker Prize winner was announced, but the little bit I have read has been wonderful. I adore Jacobson's writing, and I'm hoping to shift my focus to this one soon.
  • Great House by Nicole Krauss - I'm working my way through the National Book Award for Fiction finalists, and this one is off to a wonderful start. I'm choosing to savor it in small sections so far.
  • An Elegy for Easterly by Petina Gappah, which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award this year is a wonderful collection of short stories, and I'm reading one each day.
  • Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier - Tracy Chevalier is a writer I've enjoyed for years. I started reading this historical novel about fossil collectors while vacationing on Cape Cod a few weeks ago, and I'm still enjoying it in little bits.
  • How to Escape from a Leper Colony by Tiphanie Yanique - a one-week only check-out from the library made this one jump to the top of my pile. It was named one of the 5 under 35 by the National Book Foundation, and I'm enjoying reading these short stories too.
  • Finding Nouf by Zoe Ferraris - I'm still on a mystery kick, and this one is lovely. Somehow I'm managing to savor it instead of rush through, and that's a testament to Ferraris's writing.
  • Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani - I'm listening to this one on audio, and it's a fun listen. I'm not the world's biggest audiobook fan, but I'm finding myself driving a lot this semester, and listening to an audiobook has been a good experience. 
The future: While I am enjoying the experience of book polygamy, it's gotten a little out of hand, and I'm starting to make rules about reading more than one at a time.

The new rules:
  • I will let myself read up to four books at one, as long as these categories are observed:
    • non-fiction: non-fiction provides a nice alternative to fiction, my favorite genre, but I like to read non-fiction in small does.
    • short stories: I'm expanding my love of novels and actively seeking out short stories. I enjoy reading collections one story a day.
    • audio: I'm pleasantly surprised how much I'm enjoying an audiobook, and I hope to continue keeping one going at all times.
    • novel:first and foremost, I've a novel lover, but I want to revert to only reading one at a time so I have maximum enjoyment and focus on details.
Now tell me, do you like to read more than one book at a time? Do you have rules for it?

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  1. That's a lot of books to be reading at once! I admit, I am pretty bad at reading more than one book at a time, so I rarely do it!

  2. I am always amazed when people can switch between reading so many books like that. I just can't do it!

    If I'm reading more than one book at a time it is generally one novel and one non-fiction book. I definitely cannot read more than one novel at a time.

    When I was working and in my car more I could also have one audio book in the mix but now I just don't have that time to listen anymore.

  3. I saw Pettina Gappah speak earlier this year at the LA Times Festival of Books, and I'd forgotten that I wanted to read that book. Glad to hear you're enjoying it!

    I can sometimes read 2-3 books at a time. But never 8!

  4. First, I really enjoyed Finding Nouf, so I'm glad to hear that you're liking it too.

    As for how many books to be reading simultaneously question, my rules are similar to yours. Currently, I have a nonfiction audiobook (I'm finding that I am preferring NF as audios, actually); a short story collection and a poetry collection. There would usually be a novel in the mix - and there might be, later on today - but I am just having difficulty deciding on which one of my library books (there are quite a few) to choose.

  5. I used to be incapable of reading more than 1 book at a time but lately I've been reading lots of books at once. As long as they have vastly different themes, I find it's pretty easy for me to keep the story lines straight and it works for my many moods :)

  6. Looks like you've got a lot of great books going!

    And yes, I'm dealing with book polygamy right now too!!! LOL!!!!! I don't know how many there are because I'm literally afraid to count. But knowing you're reading 8 makes me feel better because my number is probably around there. It doesn't bother me so much except that it's taking forever to finish a book and that I want to feel accomplished by finishing some more!

  7. I enjoyed Finding Nouf and Remarkable Creatures, but want to read a few others your featured as well. Congrats on reading some winners.

  8. I have about 5 going right now, and it's driving me crazy! I usually am a very monogamous reader, but found myself wanting to read so many books, and having so little time to do it, so I started experimenting with more than one at a time. Things have obviously gotten out of hand with that, and nothing good has come out of it for me. I am hoping to finish my five and then go back to my regular habits. It's just not working for me.

  9. Yes, I'm usually in the midst of many books, rather than just one, and I do have an assortment, but I don't have rules about how many. When it gets too crazy, and I feel like the volume is turning them into a blur, I tidy up the stack. It's rare to be as tidy as one-at-a-time, but on occasion. It's nice to have company with this habit!

  10. What a great term to describe the way I read! I usually have about six going at the same time. I always liken it to the way people watch TV. Usually they have at least a few shows they watch each week, rather than only watching one until it's over and then picking up a new one. So what's the difference? But I like the idea of having rules. Maybe I should write some up for myself!

  11. Wow, what a great selection of books to be reading. I really want to read Girls on the Verge at some point so I'll be watching for your reviews. Good luck getting through them :)

  12. Just like you, I somehow ended up reading 6 books at a time. It was quite unintentional, lol, but I'm enjoying it.


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