Bedtime reading

chill

Are you a serial reader? Or do you consume several books at the same time? I’m definitely one of the latter, and have always been so. My bedside table has a pile of books which I peruse as I feel the need, and while I often read a novel straight through I’m also partial to swapping from one to another.

Let me give an idea of what I’m talking about. At present I’m charging through a library book, a novel authored by Charlie Lovett: easy to read, it’s also about history, books, Shakespeare and is a bit of a literary whodunit (without a murdered body, as yet). All good fun. I’ve temporarily put aside a title by Australian author Kaaron Warren, not because it isn’t good but because I just needed a break from its rather dry style. I’ll explain when I come to review it.

Not all reading is done at night — in the mornings I’ve been plodding through a book on health, one of David Perlmutter’s successful titles on how our modern diet is doing us no favours. Another non-fiction title I dip into on occasion is by Charles Lamb (he of the tales from Shakespeare) which, as it is a collection of early 19th-century essays, is already chopped up into bite-sized chunks. The same goes for a selection of letters by Lewis Carroll which I can only manage a handful at a time, fascinating through they are; I’m sure I’ll finish them before 26 November, the 150th anniversary of the first successful publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

I don’t just read in bed, though during daylight hours I tend to read the papers or — I’m ashamed to say — stuff online. However I often have a book or two lying around; they may be books on exploring the locality, kids books for the grandchildren, endnotes on piano scores or whatever. Currently I have two other library books on the go, a fascinating study by the academic Hildegard Hammerschimidt-Hummel on the ‘true’ face of Shakespeare (that man again) and another by Simon Garfield on how maps over the years changed both their appearance and our view of the world.

I’ve fairly broad tastes where reading is concerned. What I don’t tend to do is read whatever author or book is currently flavour of the month, lauded by the review pages of the broadsheets and pushed by the book trade in the entrances to their book outlets. I may be missing out what half the world is enjoying but my attitude is this: I’ll come to it when I’m ready for it. At least, unless I’m asleep.

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18 thoughts on “Bedtime reading

      1. Eat cereals free from wheat… Tricky to find, beyond porridge. I eat oat granola, low sugar..hard to find, and not perfect , but hey. Haven’t eaten bread for quite some time, except occasionally if I’m out and there’s no alternative!

        1. Perlmutter gives a few gluten-free and sugar-free breakfast options which, as I’ve only just got to the recipes section, are on my to-do list to try. Otherwise I’ve cut out most of the sugar and certainly no gluten after breakfast at the moment. I’ve not gone down the testing route as yet. How’s this approach helping you with your ailment?

  1. I’m another polybiblous reader (see Holbrook Jackson’s “The Anatomy of Bibliomania” for that term). I’m not sure of the cause, but it’s probably much as you describe — although why we want to exercise choice WHILE reading, instead of AFTER, is an unsolvable mystery.
    But why be ashamed of reading “stuff online”? If it’s a choice of either schlepping to the local library, where they probably won’t have the book I want, or reading a version online, then the decision is easy: turn on the computer, search the title, and start reading.

    1. I was a polybibulous student once, Lizzie … but, ah, I see you mean polybiblious, my mistake.

      The “stuff online” that I’m ashamed of is all those stupid so-called news stories, the links that I click on with the “latest updates” that turn out to be some bit of insane speculation or inane gossip, or “scientific findings” that are based on a sample approaching close to zilch, or news items that are anything but new. I’ll happily research online but <bona fide books I find impossible on screen, whether on Kindle or via the Internet.

  2. Several books at a time, for me. At one point it got out of hand, up to like 30 technically on the go at one time. I’ve pared it down since then, but especially when I’m fidgety, it creeps back up…

    1. Yes, fidget factor, that affects me too, Nikki. I’d like to think it goes hand in hand with the internet age but I rather suspect it’s me. I take comfort from the fact that in this you beat me hands down!

    1. Great discussion, from what I read of your link. I liked his confirmation that “For us the only books that are new are those that never grow old.” And I approve of his distinguishing between bibliophiles (both bookmen and, naturally, bookwomen) and bibliomaniacs, those who hoard books with no regard to any intrinsic worth.

      (And lo, I was reading stuff online! But only for a bit …)

  3. It seems not long ago I was able to switch back and forth between books with ease. This was a habit of mine; I’d go from a nonfiction to fiction, depending on my mood. Now I tend to stick with one book, because I noticed that the book I put down in favor of another went unfinished.
    Reading before bed is a long held habit of mine, though I no longer read late into the night. I tend to pick a book up Saturday morning and read for hours. Depending on the book, I may read all day.
    By the way, I have the Lovett book on my shelf. Sigh, sounds like it may be my next read.

    1. When I put down a book in favour of another I tell myself that I’ll go back to it when I’m in the mood. Sadly, Sari, I don’t always stick to promises, though I really hate to give up on a book.

      Unlike you I rarely read at length during the day, though I have been doing that with the Hammerschimidt-Hummel the last couple of days; perhaps it’s because it’s non fiction. The Lovett? I’m still going on it but I find I’m enjoying it more than I thought, so I hope you do too.

  4. Interesting how many tackle more than one at a time. I have been regarded as a freak because I generally swap between two at a time. A book I don’t do the last quarter of in one go is usually either so good I don’t want it to end, or it hasn’t grabbed my attention properly.

    1. I admire your self-control in delaying gratification with a good book — something I’d find hard to do. Hmm, if you’re regarded as a freak for swapping between two books what would be the judgement on those with a half dizen or even more on the go?!

        1. I am that utter greybeard loon with a butterfly mind — but when I flap my wings there’ll be a hurricane elsewhere in the world!

          Or something. Now, what was I saying?

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