Works in Progress

I will never be a one book at a time girl. I need a book to hand for a variety of possible moods and for different concentration level. I need big books that I know I can get lost in and I need small books that will fit in my handbag ….

But it’s easy to go too far, to have a book too many. And I think I’m on the edge of that, and so I’m going to take stock.

Nine books …

The Warden by Anthony Trollope

I struggled with Trollope for a long time, but a couple of months ago I picked this one up and I began to finally understand why so many love him. But I put it to one side to finish a library book that someone else had reserved and didn’t pick it up again. I really must!

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

I very much like the look of The Innocents by Francesca Segal, but I thought I would reread the book that inspired it before I picked it up. It’s a long time since I read The age of Innocence, and I am pleased to report that I still love it and that it is a fascinating book to study even when you are familiar with the story, the characters, the milieu.

Greenery Street by Denis Mackail

I’d had a difficult day and my Virago and Persephone bookcases were calling me loudly. There is no better therapy. I’d read that this was lovely and it is, so I’m reading it slowly.

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clark

I’ve been reading this one on and off for years, going back and forth, back and forth. Not because I’ve forgotten anything important, but because I love the journey and I love the details …

The Murder of Halland by Pia Juul

This is my handbag book of the moment. It’s a wonderful, distinctive piece of crime writing, and I plan to finish it in my lunch break tomorrow.

The Harbour by Francesca Brill

This arrived in the post yesterday, and it was one of those books that just made me start reading straight away. It’s a big, dramatic story of love and history, set in Hong Kong during World War II, and I have a feeling I’m going to whistle through – it’s compulsive reading!

The Young Ardizzone by Edward Ardizzone

This is a lovely childhood memoir, packed full of stories and drawings. It’s one of those books I could happily live in, but I must finish and give it back to the library.

The Seamstress by Maria Duenas

I am loving this: a big romantic epic set against the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War. It got buried under knitting and newspaper on the coffee table for a while but I’ve pulled it out again because I do want to press on.

A Game of Hide and Seek by Elizabeth Taylor

(not pictured)

I picked this up for last month’s Elizabeth Taylor Centenary Readalong, and I could see straight away that it was a great book, but I just didn’t have the concentration to do it justice. I’m going to finish it before I move on to this month’s book, The Sleeping Beauty, to keep my chronology straight …

And I think that’s it. All good books, all books I want to finish, and I must finish at least two of them before I pick up anything new.

But nine works in progress is silly, and I haven’t even counted books for long term readalongs!

How many books do you read at a time? How do you keep track?

Please tell!

13 responses

  1. I have about five or six on the go right now, very much for the same reasons. I’ve declared June as Clear Up the Stragglers month because I want to move ahead with a clearer conscience.

  2. Until I recently started jotting down a list of all that I have on the go, I had no idea I was so promiscuous. It’s amazing!

  3. I have only two at the moment but it s a struggle because I really want to start about three others! Sometimes you have to take stock like you have done and finish some of these before starting anything new.

    I agree though I need different books for different points. Currently reading a massive hardback which I cannot keep lugging around in my handbag, hence why I have or finished yet. I got it three months before publication and that date is now looming and I still have not finished it! Shame because it is really good but I don’t think I a, dong it justice, by popping in and reading it a bit at a time.

  4. I can usually only read one at a time, though I’m finding now I can keep a book of short stories going on the side. But I still tend to get caught up in the main book.

  5. Technically I am reading five at the moment including two for readalongs (very behind with Les Miserables!), a book of Barbara Kingsolver’s short stories, a historical novel about Catherine de Medici and a crime novel that I am struggling a bit with, hence why it is taking me a lot longer than they usually do! I think it is the tone of the latter which is irritating me a bit but I am detrmined to finish it!

  6. I usually have about 8-10 books on the go at once, which is why it sometimes takes me forever to finish anything. Like you, I need books to suit my different moods and circumstances. I’ve always read several books at once and can’t really get to grips with the concept of reading just one at a time.

  7. Goodness – I generally only have one on the go at the time. I sometimes – though rarely read a non fiction or a book of short stories alongside a novel – but I find it best to concentrate on one thing at a time.

  8. I have 2 or 3 on the go at the moment, but I’ve been finding recently that more than 1 at a time isn’t really working. I’m tending to get bogged down and then not finishing any of them because I’m not focused. So I’ve tried to change the way I read a bit – i’m tackling one book at a time and reading to the end and keeping a book journal to record when I read it and what I thought of it. This method seems to be working quite well, tho’ it’s frustrating when you’re halfway through a good book and another appears from the library or the Internet 😉 But I found I needed this kind of discipline to kick-start my reading, which had got a bit sluggish, and keep up with the various reading challenges. I think this may go to pieces a little bit when I next get involved in a very long book though!

  9. You know I’ve had the same problem lately! I finally decided to stop hoarding library books and have returned them all. And I am going to try reading only 1 book at at time for a while. I suspect I may finish more books this way.
    I recently finished The Warden (my first Trollope) and loved it!

  10. I could not concentrate on that many books at once – I am a strictly monogamous reader. When I’ve read more than one book at a time in the past I’ve found it hard to get into either book and not finishing books as quickly frustrates me.

    Jonathan Strange is one of my favourite books – wonderful, isn’t it?

  11. I am always impressed and amazed when folks can have so many books going at one time! For a long part of my life I was a one book at a time kind of a person. However over the last several years I have consistently settled into two at a time. In theory I was going to go with one fiction and one none fiction. I have the feeling that if I try to read more simultaneously that some works might get neglected and forgotten.

  12. I always used to just read one book at a time really. Now I usually have two or three on the go. At least one tree book and one on my kindle, but usually several tree books at once.

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