I’ve mentioned before that I have been a voracious reader all my life, and my reading tastes are eclectic.
Other than when I was a student and had numerous text books and other assigned books which I had to read concurrently in sections or chapters assigned by teachers, I would read one book at a time, and when that one was finished, went on to another. I suppose that is the norm. I also have always had a stack of books lined up. I get nervous when the stack of books-to-read falls below ten, and I have to hurry to a bookstore to restore the stack to ten or more.
Starting a year or so ago my reading habits changed. I’ve begun to read multiple books concurrently. It started out innocently. After a lifetime of going to restaurants alone and having to stare off into space or contemplate a place mat while awaiting a waiter or waitress to show up to take my order, then waiting for my meal to be served, I began bringing a book to read to pass the time.
The first few times I had paperback books. They’re small and easy to hold in one hand. But when I started on a large hard cover book I was reluctant to bring it to the restaurant, so I grabbed a paperback from the books-to-read stack to read at the restaurant. That was the beginning of my new habit of reading multiple books concurrently. For various reasons, which I will explain, I have now come to the point where I am working on five books – those in the following photo.
Under the Dome, by Stephen King – I started this about five months ago. I have always liked King’s work, but this book has not yet grabbed me – I’m not sure if its the story or the characters that I can’t get into. So I have only been reading a chapter at a time, with sometimes a week or two going by before I pick it up again. It is a weird experience when I start reading it again. I have no problem with the main characters and what is going on, but the mention of a minor character throws me. I ask myself: “Who the hell is Judy?” – and it may take me a page or two before “Judy’s” part in the book pops back in my memory. I’ve only gotten to page 268 out of 1,072 . Looks like this book won’t get finished until 2011.
Play Dead, by Harlan Coben – Light reading. A mystery which serves as my “go to restaurant” book.
Taking Charge, edited by Michael Beschloss – This is a fascinating compilation of transcripts of taped telephone conversations of President Lyndon Johnson, with footnotes and commentary, starting with a call to President Kennedy’s mother just twenty-eight minutes after he was sworn in on Air Force One and flying back to Washington from Dallas with Kennedy’s body on November 23, 1963 , and continuing through to August 1964. The reason that he was able to rise from obscurity to the very top of the pyramid of power is evident in these telephone calls. He was a master at manipulating people – combining good-ole-boy southern charm, self deprecation, ego massage and very thinly veiled threats to get people to do what he wanted. It was an art form. This is not a book to read all at once. I have been absorbing it in small chunks
The Civil War Almanac, edited by John Bowman – This book chronicles the events leading up to the American Civil War and the war itself with accounts of what was happening in both the North and South, politically and militarily, on a daily basis. I started this just a few days ago and it is hard to put down.
Fall of Giants, by Ken Follett – This is my current main read. I’ll finish it very quickly. It is Book One of Folletts’ Century Trilogy – and as he did in his previous masterpieces “Pillars of the Earth” and “World Without End” he follows the fates of interrelated families (In this case, American, German, Russian, English and Welsh) as they move through the major events of the 20th century. This book covers World War I, the Russian Revolution and the struggle for women’s suffrage. Follett is one of my favorite contemporary authors. I sure hope he is diligently working on the next two volumes!