“What are you reading?”

I hate that question. It seems like a simple question, but it’s not. It really hasn’t been simple since I was about 10. I like to read around. Sure, I have a main book, but I can’t quit my side books.

At this moment, I’m in the middle of 4 books. I finished a 5th this morning. And I’ve had points where I was in the middle of 7 books.

The thing is, I like to read. My summers in early elementary school were spent trekking back and forth from the public library grabbing book after book after book. When we moved, we never got a library card (because it was mildly inconvenient; this would cost my parents loads in books over the next 20 years, mine and theirs), but reading was always encouraged and when school was in session, I still had that.

To say I’m not a social person is to say that Shaq is kind of tall. Throw me into situations where I only optionally have to interact, and I’ll exercise that option, so I tended to carry books with me whenever I could. I had them on car trips. I had them in my backpack. And I had them in restaurants. Yep. I’d go to restaurants with my family and read instead of talking. I wish I could do that as an adult. Reading is at least a somewhat socially acceptable form of antisocial behavior. Plus, accelerated reader programs meant I got a lot of free stuff over the years for avoiding social interactions.

As I segued into middle school in high school, I started my multi-book reading habit. At one point, I was consistently reading 3 books: one in my backpack (typically for class), one beside my bed before I went to sleep, and one on the toilet (hey, if you use your phone on the toilet, I can read a book).

College was a little more manageable, mostly because I didn’t have the money for books, and I’d gotten out of the habit of using the library, despite them constantly being available on universities. I only was reading one at a time for most of my higher education, usually carrying one in my backpack as a freshman to read between classes, and later I would usually just keep one at home.

Now, my reading habit has circled back around. I have books everywhere. Trips are when things can get a bit crazy. In a past Story Time post, I talked about the trio of hardback books I managed to carry around on one trip. This isn’t atypical. Even though I have a Kindle (plus the app), I still usually carry one hard copy in case the grid goes down or I can’t charge my devices. I take spare books like some folks take spare underwear. I might be the male Rory Gilmore. Or male Daria.

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Yeah, probably Daria.

I have a lot of downtime when I’m flying, so I try to catch up on my reading. This, of course, assumes that I’m not reading at home, which is only a half truth.

At home these days, I get tired. I don’t read as much as I’d like because I’m also trying to engage in other things (like making sure I have clean clothes and dishes). That said, I still read more than most. You don’t start a book reviewing blog because you aren’t reading.

And that gets us to the 4 books being read at once. My typical minimum of books these days is four: one by the toilet, one by the couch, one my phone, and one on my tablet (my Kindle gets left out because of convenience). Sometimes there’s more. Sometimes I’m so avidly reading on the Kindle that I have 3 devices tracking the same book. But you get the picture. Right now, I’ve got The Magician King on my phone, The Infinite Sea on my tablet, Tribal Leadership hanging around, and New Moon as my toilet reading. And I’ve actually got bookmarks in a couple of other books, but I’m not actively reading them. I have a habit of starting books, and not finishing them because something catches my ADD attention, and I obsess over the shiny new thing instead.

This actually gets me back to the toilet book. Because I’m only reading that one in spurts, I’ve been reserving it for the books that I stopped in the middle of. I started rereading New Moon at least 2 years ago. I’ve read it before, and it’s my least favorite in the series, so I hit a wall when the big, giant depression stage started. This was also how I got through Wuthering Heights. It took me at least a year and a half to read Wuthering Heights, but making it a toilet book did the trick. It was actually the first book I’ve had as a dedicated toilet book in years. I used to just grab whatever I was reading and take it with me if I really wanted to read before I switched to taking my phone in with me like every digitized person does these days. It’s actually been nice to do it this way because 1) it gives me something more productive to do than screwing around on Reddit, and 2) it gets me through something I want to do but can’t make myself do.

But this has been a rambling story. I hope you enjoyed it, and maybe you’ll think twice before asking someone what they’re reading like it’s a simple question.

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