Why reading more than one book at a time is not weird at all

I just added another book to ‘Christina is currently reading’ on the left hand side of the screen. I did this because I made the mistake of reading Robopocalypse at night. As a result, 1) I have realized how scary Robopocalypse is, 2) I have realized how much scarier Robopocalypse is at night, and, 3) I am now a little bit afraid of my daughter’s toys, especially her Fijit named Willa. As a result, I decided to go back to my previous habit of reading more than one book at a time, which made me recall conversations with others about why I usually read more than one book at a time. So I decided to share.

First, I read in many different places. I read outside at the playground while my son is playing. I used to read in my car in the carpool line, waiting to pick up my daughter from school. Thanks to my carpooling partner, I don’t have that issue anymore. I used to read when I actually had to go into the school to get my daughter after extra-curricular activities, but that is rare now because my husband has been able to pick her up after most of her after school activities. I read in bed, right before I go to sleep. I read sitting on the couch while my kids watch TV or during commercials while I am watching TV. I read sitting in the bathroom while my kids take a bath. I push up a chair to the downstairs bathroom and read while my son sits on the potty, refusing to poop. I read at Chuck E. Cheese while my kids are playing and my husband is running around with them, because other than the tasty ranch dressing, I hate Chuck E. Cheese and have no desire to run around and play games, or watch my kids play games. I read while I wait for my take-out to be ready. I read while I have a pedicure, once or twice a year because I am not rich. I read in the car when we go to a store and one or both of the kids fall asleep and my husband goes in while I sit out in the car. I listen to audiobooks while working out because it is too difficult to read an actual book and walk or jog at the same time. I read in the kitchen while I am waiting for water to boil or for something to finish cooking. Finally, I usually take a book with me everywhere, because you never know when you are going to end up stranded somewhere with nothing to do, wishing you had a good book to read.

Unfortunately, I cannot read while a car is in motion because I get car sick. I do not read on airplane rides because I am afraid of crashing and have not been on a plane in over 12 years.

Second, different books require different levels of attention. I usually have no problems reading a book while my kids watch TV or play video games. Similarly, I can read outside while my son plays at the playground. However, if the book is One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez– not so much. That requires too much concentration, and even then, you are probably not going to understand some of it. Books like The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins also require a span of undivided attention, and a computer to look up some of his sources or research the validity of factual statements. If you are in a situation where you are constantly distracted by passing cars that could possibly hit your toddler, the loud buzzing of a new high score, or sitting in a massage chair while someone rubs your lower legs and paints your toenails, a book that requires a lot of concentration is probably not the best idea.

Third, and more importantly to my recent addition- different books require different settings. For example, what prompted me to pick up another book was that I was scaring myself silly by reading Robopocalypse at night. When my daughter goes to bed, she lies in the top bunk while I lie in the bottom bunk and read until she falls asleep. The problem is that I was lying on ground level, close to her toys, that I am now convinced were watching me and planning my demise. So I decided that Robopocalypse is a book that should be read in full daylight  or, just like eating, not after about 7 o’clock at night. If you read it much later than that, and are a scaredy cat like I am, that doesn’t leave enough time to get it out of your mind before lights out, no matter how many episodes of Golden Girls you watch.

Finally, and probably least importantly- if I read more than one book at a time, I don’t have to carry books around as much. I leave one upstairs by my bed, one downstairs somewhere and one in the car. Including my audiobook for exercising, at any given time, I would be reading at least 4 books at the same time.

Why did I stop? Some of my friends teased me because of the fact that I read several different books at one time. If we were reading the same book, they wanted me to hurry up and finish so we could talk about it. In addition, I joined a book group on Goodreads which reads a specific book each month. While it is true that I read pretty fast, it is nice to concentrate on one book so I can finish it and start contributing to the group discussion. And then sometimes I simply get distracted. Since I had no problem reading more than one book at a time, I would pick up a new book that caught my attention, neglect a previous book and then by the time I got back to it, couldn’t remember what happened. So I decided to take a very difficult step and focus on one book at a time.

Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson put a quick end to that.

Written by Christina

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