Sunday, August 07, 2011

Bibliobits: How Many Books?

Another hot summer day.  We were full of vim on our bicycles because the temperature was under 90. I would have preferred lolling around the house, but when all the days are hot, you know you need to go out.

At the coffeehouse where we drank iced tea, my husband informed me that he has seen me reading three books in two days.  I informed him that I have seen him reading one book in two days.

Does it matter?  Is one way of reading more serious than the other?

Well, it's true that I juggle books.  I finished Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South in the car yesterday.  I read a little bit of John Kennedy O'Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces in a lull. And I was reading a mystery today.  

How can I explain this student-style multiple reading?

In Louise Erdrich's Shadow Tag, a short novel about a dysfunctional Native American family, the heroine, Irene America, the wife of a painter famous for his disturbing portraits of her, badly needs privacy.  She writes one diary for him to find and one for herself. Even her reading style is private and independent:  she reads the parts that nurture her and doesn't always finish books.  And this drives her husband crazy.

Or something like that.  I read this novel last year and hope I have the details right.  

Although I'm not like Irene, I do read like this.  I wonder:  do women read serially more than men?  The women bloggers I read seem to.  Men seem less personal in their blogs, less revealing of their habits.

WHAT I WANT TO READ.  My husband and I are sharing a copy of Patrick McGuinness's The Last Hundred Days, a Booker-longlisted novel published by a small press, Seren.  Set in Bucharest in 1989, this lit thriller, according to the book jacket blurb, is about a "young English student... [who]finds dissidents, party appartchiks, black marketeers, diplomats, spies, and ordinary Romanians, all watching each other as Europe's most paranoid regime plays out its bloody endgame."

The first one to finish has to blog about it.  

I also want to read Clyde Edgerton's The Night Train.  I love this humorous Southern writer, enjoyed Raney and Walking across Egypt, and intend to pick up one of his others (though not necessarily the newest, because I believe I have one of his other novels around) before the end of summer.


Mrs. Henchy said...

I always have 3-4 going at one time, but if one falls too far behind in the rotation, I tend to spend a marathon afternoon and finish it up in one or two sittings. It has only been in the last year or so that I have given myself permission to not finish a book if it's truly not grabbing me on any level.

Frisbee said...

I do those marathon afternoons, too!

I love to finish books, but occasionally have to give up. Yes, we have to give ourselves permission.

Ellen said...

I do multiple reading. It's having more than one friend at a time. I have more company this way, and the books connect back and forth (in my mind) with one another sometimes.


Frisbee said...

That's such a great way to put it: books as friends. I do feel that way about it.

Buried In Print said...

Student-style. That's an interesting way to think of it. But I've been reading like this since I was a student young enough to NOT have homework or reading to do. As long as I can remember, actually. I do understand why it doesn't work for everybody -- and on rare occasions I've done the one-book-at-a-time thing -- but it doesn't come to me naturally!

Frisbee said...

I love the multiple reading, too. I don't know quite when I started it, but I date it to my university days.