Reviewing the Situation

I have a bad habit of picking up books, starting them, and then being distracted by something else. It generally works well; I have several books in progress and I pick the right one for the moment. But sometimes it gets too much and I have to stop and take stock to see where I’m going.

This is one of those times.

2014-01-22_20-18-01_70Starting from the bottom:

I bought a copy of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell when it was a brand new hardback, and I’ve started reading a few times and drifted away. But a read-along came along at just the right time – and at just the right pace – and I’ve read more than ever before, I have the momentum to see me through to the end. it’s love.

I planned to read The Goldfinch over Christmas, but I was later than I planned finishing my Century of Books, and then other books started calling me. I loved the opening chapters, but then it seemed to wobble a bit, and the adolescent years seem interminable. I want to see it through and I will get back to it. I think …..

I loved How To Be A Heroine: Or, what I’ve learned from reading too much as soon as I saw that title and I placed an order as soon as it appeared it library stock. It’s as wonderful as I hoped, and I’m not going to want to give it back to the library but I’ve been reading at lot of my own books and I really need to make some space on my ticket.

I picked up Red Pottage because it’s on my Classics Club list, because it worked for my 100 Years of Books, and because I’ve spotted others with great taste on books loving it. I followed a trail from Lisa to Hayley to Simon. I loved the first few chapters, but I’ve put it on hold until I’ve caught up with one or two other books.

I pulled The Beth Book off the Virago bookcase for the same reasons, and I didn’t mean to pick it up yet but I loved the first chapter and I had to carry on.

I’m reading The Game of Kings with a group – one of the Lymond novels every two month, so we’ll have read the series by the end of the year. So many people love Dorothy Dunnett, and I’m beginning to see why, but I’m not entirely smitten yet. Time will tell …..

And I’m reading Clarissa in real time. I started a couple of years ago but I fell off the read-along. It was the year my mother was ill and moved into a nursing home, and I didn’t have electronic means then and it just wasn’t practical to carry such a big book around with me. But now I do and so I’m trying again, with a Twitter read-along.

And that’s it.

Everything else has gone back on the shelf, to be started again one day in the not too distant future.

My plan I to keep reading the big books at a steady rate, and to read the smaller books along the way.

I’ll finish the second volume of Strange & Norrell tonight, and I’m going to be ‘Doing Dunnett’ at the weekend.

Then I’ll see where I am. And pick up one or two other books.

Sometimes I wish I was the kind of person who picked up one book at a time, to read from cover to cover before picking up another, but I’m not. I do like my system, I just have to bring it under control.

What works for you?

What are you reading? What are your plans?

17 responses

  1. I used to read a bit like that, but now I’m trying to read one at a time because I wasn’t always finishing books the other way. I always seem to have an ever-rotating pile of “what I might read next” but I often then don’ choose from that pile. I don’t always stick all the way through though – I got halfway through a book of Amelia Edwards Victorian short stories this week and just lost the will to carry on and went off and read Journey to the Centre of the Earth instead. Go figure!

  2. What a laugh. I have about 5 books on the go and I picked them up and put them all back on the shelf! Now I’m starting again and am almost finished with a Kindle book I got from My Library Thing. Next is a biography I started and will go on that one a bit. I don’t often take the kindle with me out of the house b/c I’m afraid I will lose it so have a paper copy in my bag and I’m going back and forth b/w the two. Hope I get them both finished soon. Happy Reading

  3. It took me a minute to read your post, because I was too caught up in envy of all those green spines! Switching books back & forth doesn’t really work for me, I generally read one book all the way through before starting another. I’m making an exception to read a book of essays alongside a novel, and I can already feel the pull to set the novel aside (which I am enjoying) and read all the essays. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed Red Pottage so far – and thank you for the compliment. Have you reached the Don Luis episode yet, with Lymond?

  4. Definitely one of my biggest problems, reading-wise. I have so many unfinished books from previous years because so often I get 50 or 100 pages in and feel like something else. The books are good, I mean to finish them one day, but who knows if I will. I’m hoping this blogging will keep me a bit more on track, and for a few months it did, but now I’m reading Eugene Onegin, Ulysses, Bleak House, Whose Body? and A Moveable Feast. Odds are good that instead of finishing any of these, I’ll pick up something else and read that. Though I’m very close with Moveable Feast. I might just manage that.

  5. I’m like Kaggsy. I usually read one at a time, possibly two – but every time I’ve read more, I don’t finish some of them. My bedside pile changes all the time too with my moods.

  6. I always used to read one book from beginning to end before starting another one but that seems to have changed as a result of blogging and now I usually have at least three or four on the go at once. It’s not ideal but I don’t think I could go back to just reading one at a time again. You’re reading a great selection of books at the moment so I hope you’re able to finish them all! I know when I first read The Game of Kings I struggled a bit at the beginning but somewhere in the middle everything began to click into place.

  7. I am a bit like that. I am currently reading War and Peace and Eugene Onegin as well as another book and it is quite nice to have a bit of variety in one’s reading.

  8. It’s only recently that I have started to read more than one book at a time and I’m not quite sure why I changed. However, for me it isn’t working. I just don’t seem to get the most out of a book if I am reading anything else alongside and I’m noticing the difference in the quality of my blog posts so I’m going to have to go back to one by one – if I can pin down why I changed the habit of a life time in the first place.

  9. Lovely shelves of Viragos, wish mine were as tidy! As ever, my plan this year is to reduce the height of the TBR piles. I generally have 3 or 4 books on the go + my Kindle. I like to have some light reading to hand for when I’m tired & more challenging stuff for other times. Thus, I’m reading “Summertime, All the Cats Are Bored” (a detective story translated from the French) & “The Sunflowers Are Mine”, a fascinating look at Vincent Van Gogh’s “Sunflower” pictures. Add in “Fred & Adele” (a life of Fred & Adele Astaire) & “Looking For The Goshawk” (about, yup, Goshawks!) & I’ve got something to hand for every occasion. However, as all these have come from the library, it is not helping the height of the TBR piles 🙂

  10. I’ve always got several on-the-go and it usually works well for me (choosing in the moment whether I want the convenience of a paperback or can sit somewhere with a bulky book like Tartt’s, or whether the sun is shining and I’m up for scary-reading or it’s getting late and something more sedate would better suit, etc.). But I know what you mean: at a certain point, things get messy and my focus too fragmented and I have to order the stack and reconsider. So many of your current reads are big and easy-to-lose-yourself-in-them, that I can see where they wouldn’t necessarily all nestle together very tidily, but I can also see where you wouldn’t really want to set one of them aside either!

  11. I find I can only read one book at the time. My memory doesn’t stick too well if I start a book and then go back to it later. I have to restart the book so there is no point in me having several books on the go but I usually have several books picked out ready to read.

  12. I read a lot like you but every now and then that rare and glorious book comes along which just sucks you right into its world and you can’t come up until it’s done. That used to happen a lot when I was young but doesn’t very often now. I too loved Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. And like you I did a reading assessment in early January, sorting or reshelving. My goal for 2014 is to clear up the heaps and piles on the TBR shelves!

  13. Sometimes I’m a read one book at a time girl, sometimes I’m a have a home-book and a subway-book and a crowded-subway-book, it just depends on my mood. I hate it when you get that overwhelmed feeling like you’ll never finish a book, though. I have to admit that I start to get antsy if I haven’t finished something in a while, so I’ll pick up a short book to read quickly and I’m always happy for it! I had some problems with The Goldfinch, but I ultimately found it rewarding.

  14. I think two maybe three is my limit. The key is they have to be all vastly different books that way I don’t get muddled up.
    Though I agree With a previous commenter that it can affect my reviews of the book with too many on the go.

  15. I always think it’s Red Pottage that I don’t like, but a friend reminded me that it’s Cotter’s England! I often have a few books on the go, although I think I’m only one real and one e-book at the moment, as I’ve fallen (back) in love with The New Statesman and read that on the tablet at the breakfast table at the moment.

  16. That’s a nice stack of books to have going. I too have to read several books at a go. There’s the e-books on the Kindle, the library books that I read in the living room (sometimes when the kids are playing), the books that I own that I’m slowly going through before bed.

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