Books, Books and More Books

This year, I am changing the way I read.

Over the years I’ve changed from being a one book at a time reader, into a two book at a time reader, and then a many books at a time reader.

I used to think that was a bad thing, but I’ve realised now that it can work for me.

I’m more inclined to read big books, because with many books on the go I don’t feel that the big book is taking me away from so many other books I want to read.

And so many books benefit from a step away to think about things.

But there are limits, and I think I’ve just hit one.

Time to consider my books in progress:

I’ve been meaning to read The Man in the Queue by Josephine Tey for ages. It felt wrong that I had read Nicola Upson’s An Expert in Mirder without having read the book that inspired it. So when The Man in the Queue was chosen as a January group read by the GoodReads Bright Young Things I pulled my copy out.

I have a tendency to whizz through crime fiction, but this time I’m reading a chapter a day and I am appreciating the writing so much more.

It is a long time since I read The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald, and I decided a while back that I should read it again, before watching Baz Luhrman’s film version. I know that isn’t out until the end of the year, but I spotted a readalong this month and so its time seemed to be now.

I’m not enjoying the book as much as I did first time around, but I feel I am giving the book a fair chance by spreading it over a whole month.

At Mrs Lippincote’s by Elizabeth Taylor is another book I read years ago, but I’ve picked it up again to read with the LibraryThing Virago Modern Classics Group as we celebrate the author’s centenary. This one is definitely better second time around, and it is repaying careful reading and quiet contemplation.

I picked up The Perfect Summer: Dancing into Shadow in 1911 by Juliet Nicholson a while back on ReadItSwapIt, and I picked it up a few weeks ago thinking that it would be a good book to set the scene before this years WW1 War Through The Generations Reading Challenge.

Each chapter focuses on a different character, and so it suits reading over time. I’ve met the new Queen Mary and the young Winston Churchill, and it has been lovely to see both at a point in their life that I hadn’t really considered before.

And there are many more fascinating people to meet …

I started the Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens last year, but I drifted away from it. I’m picking up the threads and I’m going to finish this one before I pick up any of the other Dickens novels that are calling me.

This isn’t going to be my one of my favourites I’m afraid, but there are one or two characters I love and I am going to see their stories through to the end.

I took my copy of A London Child of the 1870s by Molly Hughes from the shelf for another group read – with the GoodReads Persephone Books Group. It is a wonderful memoir of a happy childhood and I am picking it up and reading a chapter whenever my spirits need lifting. I am so pleased that my library has the two sequels.

I ordered Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons from the library when I discovered that there was only one story about Cold Comfort Farm and that it was a prequel – so no preliminary  rereading was required – and that only a couple of stories were about Christmas.

I’m afraid I’ve ground to a halt on this one. It isn’t that I don’t like it, but I don’t like it as much as I’d hoped. It might be that Stella Gibbons needs the greater expanse of a novel to weave her particular literary magic, or it might just be that I read it at the wrong moment – Charlotte loved it.

So, now that I’ve realised just how many book I have in progress, and now that I’ve noticed someone else has a reservation and is waiting for it, I think I must take it back.

I have owned a copy of Les Miserables by Victor Hugo for years, and it has been one of those books I really wanted to read but never quite got to. But now that there is a year long readalong I have finally made a start.

A proof copy of Diving Belles by Lucy Wood came through my letterbox a little while ago. I read the first few stories and fell in love, but then I decided I had to spin the rest out, as I really didn’t want to come to the last one. But the book is out in a couple of weeks and  I must read on to the end so that I can sing its praises.

I started reading The Coward’s Tale by Vanessa Gebbie before Christmas. It was wonderful but it needed more attention than I could give it then, so I pushed it to one side. But now slow reading is paying dividends.

I started The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley weeks ago and I was loving it, but the book disappeared. It turned up a couple of days ago, under a pile of newspapers and magazines on the coffee table, and now I am happily reading on.

I probably shouldn’t have picked up another book, but I have to have a visit to the dentist first thing tomorrow morning, and I prescribed myself a day curled up with a big book afterwards. The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman has been waiting for a while, and once I read the opening I was lost. So tomorrow I shall be in Masada …

That makes ten books. And, even though I’ve decided multiple reads is the way to go, that’s more than enough for now …

15 responses

  1. I’m impressed. I read one book at a time. I get confused otherwise. I have been known to take a break from a larger book to read something else but I prefer to read one at a time.

  2. Goodness Jane, that’s an impressive number of books to keep track of! The max I can usually handle at any one time is three or four and generally I stick to two. I’m especially glad to hear you’re enjoying The Perfect Summer. It’s been sitting unread on my shelf for ages now but I am very excited to read it.

  3. I am also impressed! I can sometimes manage a book of short stories or essays along with another book – but especially with fiction I’m usually too eager to find out what happens next to put a book down til I’ve finished.

  4. Wow! I usually have 6 books going at once, and that’s about my limit. Although I’m participating in a year-long read-a-long of Clarissa, so I guess I’ll be at 7 this time! 😀

  5. I used to read only 1 book at a time, but like you, need to have more than one going when one is particularly long. However, I start feeling overwhelmed when I get to 3 books at once, I can’t even imagine 10! Sounds like you have it all thought out, though. 😉

  6. At one time I could juggle at least three books but anymore my attention span is all over the place so it’s best that I just stick with the one. I can however, understand why you kept adding more to your stacks!!

  7. I tend to have multiple books on the go at any one time – different books for different moods and time spans I think! If I only have a few minutes to read or I am feeling tired, there is no point in picking up a Victorian novel or anything which requires concentration, so I will either pick up a diary or short stories or a travel book or something like that.
    I am also reading a chapter at a time of The Perfect Summer and very much enjoying it too – I found that I had acquired a whole shelf of books about different decades of the 20th century so I decided to start with The Perfect Summer and work my way through which could take quite some time if I keep going at the pace I am currently going at!
    I will however be joining in the year long read of Les Miserables in the hope that I can manage that and Middlemarch AND The Three Musketeers in the same year!

  8. Gosh – ten is quite a lot. I tend to struggle with more than two, although a third if non-fiction can work for me occasionally.

  9. What a lovely (and tall!) stack of books. I’ve got a different Josephine Tey in my pile (Daughter of Time) which I’ll be reading for a mystery challenge. I am impressed that you are reading both Les Miserables and Clarissa in the same year 🙂

  10. Wow that’s a lot of books to read at one given time! I don’t think I could manage it but I do like the idea of reading a few at a time and I like your logice behind it.

    The next book I’m reading for my book group is Shadow of the Wind which is quite chunky and I was worried it would stop me from reading anything else. I think I’ll try reading this and something light hearted at the same time and see how I get on.

    P.s. I also have a copy of The Rose Garden, glad to hear you were enjoying it.

  11. Pingback: Little & Often at the Right Time Of Day … « Gaskella

  12. Great post, I have become a multi reader, not quite to this extent granted, but have suddenly become annoyed at not having quite finished so many of the books I am mid way through. I need to sort this out I feel.

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