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.