Thursday, August 22, 2013

My Reading Buffet, or Why I Read More Than Ten Books At A Time

Ten books is an understatement. If I were to trust my Goodreads record I actually have about eighty books on my Currently Reading List. But I want to keep the number to the books I have been actively reading through for the past two weeks.

Reading multiple books naturally slows me down but just to be clear, I do get to finish them. According to my Goodreads record, again, I am 28%, or 11 books, ahead of this year's Reading Challenge.

Books are my therapy. More specifically, owning them, reading them, and highlighting my favorite passages, not to mention copying those passages and using them in my various writings. I read both fiction and non-fiction, popular as well as literary works. I am partial to fantasy and mythologies and books with magic.

But why do I read so many at the same time? Because I get impatient. And I have this irrational need to feel that I am moving along more than one story. Maybe it is a way of filling my near-absent social life, filling in my social calendar with different stories instead of different parties. But I also like pursuing a thread of thought or the urge of a mood as soon as possible. That is the impatience working. The thought or the urge could be triggered by anything. It could be a genuine need for knowledge and information that could be useful for my work. It could be pure whim or curiosity from hearing a book or an author or a subject mentioned in fils, or even another book, that has moved me in some way. Neil Gaiman gets me going on a lot of reading, helping me discovering authors and genres in the process, expanding my reading appreciation. So does Joseph Campbell and Julia Cameron.

I have this strange constant sense of running out of time. As if I am forever cramming for an exam or a graded recitation. I have this constant hunger, every single day, to learn something new or to feed myself new images and words and stories. I can feel that what I read buoy me up and help me survive every endeavor and every encounter. What I read may inspire me, or literally provide me with a nugget of knowledge that will enable me to save the day, or guide me in the decisions I have to make. Books are my lifeline. They anchor me amidst the sea of unpredictability of the everyday. They remind me of my values and set examples by which to conduct my life (Thank you, Jane Austen).

I seek the variety because it makes me feel that I am covering as much ground as I can. Who knows when familiarity with a specific subject might come in handy? I guess I also don't want to be limited to a very narrow range of topics that could severely limit my already challenged conversational skills. I make up for not being updated with current news and events by being well-versed in books. (I avoid the daily news because I avoid all the negativity and anger and vicious circles of blaming.)

I cannot be idle and not read. While I do enjoy the occasional meditative silence of being still, for most of the time I have to have a reading material of substance in my hands. A book or two in my bag plus books loaded in my smartphone and tablet give me the same comfort as a fully-loaded survival kit in a zombie apocalypse.

My reading list covers a wide range. I follow my heart which pages it wishes to explore at any given moment because that is also when I know that I will get the most from a book.

As of today here are what top my active list:

In my Kindle I have:

The Cuckoo's Calling, by Robert Galbraith
The Twenty-Four Hour Mind, by Rosalind Cartwright
Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, by Mason Currey
Writing Well, by William Zinsser
Writing To Learn, by Willian Zinsser

I love finding unexpected connections between the books I read, even when they seem so different. The important lessons gets echoed because they are important. And when I badly need some clue, a hint of budge in the right direction, my books often come to the rescue. Or sometimes, a simple line can bring a whole load of comfort when I feel most alone in a dreary endeavor and resolution seems too far away, such as this quote from Kafka:

"...time is short, my strength is limited, the office is a horror, the apartment is noisy, and if a pleasant, straightforward life is not possible then one must try to wriggle through by subtle maneuvers." -- excerpted from Daily Rituals: How Artists Work.

What's on your reading list this week?

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