How to read multiple books at the same time....

For several years, after college, I was on a regime of "one book" at a time. In those days, it was mostly classical literature or a book on film/writing craft. 

I was in the habit of reading before bed, or occasionally, in the afternoon when I had some free time, over coffee.

I'd often wonder how we collectively (students) went through several books at the same time in college, and the answer now, so obvious, was because of necessity. 

Jump to about two years ago, when I had a sudden revelation that my reading frequency had dipped to an all time low, and was consumed with a year of MOBY DICK (the year before, WAR AND PEACE). One book, a whole year.

At this time, I came to a reading breakpoint (yes, this is not so dramatic). Rather I can wallow in the dead poetics society, or, get the fuck out of this habit, and open the mind to new ideas. 

I picked up a non-fiction business book. Something I had never done in my life. Why? I was pulled in that direction but that's another story.

But since then, I upped my reading to an average of around 40-50 books per year in the last few. I understand that this is below some overachievers, but the mean of the average American Adult's book count, according to this 2013 PEW study is 12. With a median at a paltry 5 (still more than my MOBY DICK year).

So, what's my method? It's all in a system based on formats, and multiple books at the same time.

For short non-fiction, I use ebooks. For things on the more motivational front, audiobooks is my preferred format. For tougher, more esoteric material, a good ol fashion analog book. For longer non-fiction, or any books on craft or technique or where you need to write information down, analog. For fiction, again, analog mostly, unless it's the size of a novella or shorter, and then it would be read in the ebook format.

So, I read a hardcover in the AM, listen to an audiobook in the car and on a jog. On an afternoon break, or at night, I'm on the Ipad with an ebook. I average about 3 books simultaneously, and can push to a max of 4.

Personally for me, at this moment, I could not read 3 books at the same time in the same format. This switch in format is both contextual, and tacit, and lets my brain welcome new content throughout the day.

One last thing: I love owning books. While I've come to love ebooks and find them superior on many levels especially for it's ease in annotation, I find myself having to buy the analog version as well if I really enjoyed the work, just to make this situation feel real. This is a problem financially. 



Book List - Spring 2014

It's been quite a bit of time between updates.  I might be a product of the Gutenberg mind, so please spare my old world behaviors; mainly, the lack of timely, coherent, word driven sentences, outlining, step by step, my recent actions, feelings and general well being.  And, my still intact affinity for old tech book media.

Since we are on the topic of books, here is my recent list.  Two out of three is a rehash, but, as I've only recently discovered, it's much easier to read something the second time around.

I don't have anything else to share. Actually I do, but I'm not in the mood of writing about writing about movies and such.  

Amir's Reading Rainbow as started in Spring and expiring in a few days:

HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES - Joseph Campbell - Second read through
THE WAY OF ZEN - Alan Watts - Second read through

Yes, they are thematically themed.



I'm always surprised to learn a great majority of people I come across only devote scattered time to reading short form articles or magazines.  I'm even more surprised (stupefied) to learn that individuals who are capable, do not read period.      

Even professionals; from nice suit and tie wearing lawyers, to some physicians, to a couple of sales execs, and from my side of it, people who do art as a "hobby", only commit to reading short form (web, magazine articles, etc).  You know, things that are easily skimmed, that do not require any of that analytical processing shit.

I say, art as "hobby", because I've yet to find a “full time” artist who doesn't commit to reading as a habit.  Mostly fiction I might add.  Same goes for the entrepreneurs I've come across.  They however, are strictly tied to non-fiction.  That’s just how they role.

People who I know, and whom amaze me most often, are also the ones who are avid readers.  And, they’re diverse readers.  They swallow up books, and they take notes, and they apply concepts into their own existence (if the particular type of book demands it).    

Look around yourself.  Find any correlation?  If not, go outside your circle a little.  Maybe being the average of your 5 closest friends is blinding you from others?  

The Book Queue as a Metaphor for Whatevers?

Sitting in front of me on a small coffee table lays Murakami's THE ELEPHANT VANISHES.  It's been sitting in front of my eyes for about 3 months. 

But, on that same coffee table lay several (12 in all) other books besides Murakami's.  They range the gamut from bestsellers to obscure works.  Most are NON fiction. (something that I've only recently gotten deeply into)  

Sometimes, a strange habit overtakes my rational mind.  It goes something like this. 

a) Buy a book to read.

b) Find other books to read by serendipitous occurrences.

A photo of books in a non-compliant aspect ratio.

A photo of books in a non-compliant aspect ratio.

c) Find those "other books" immediately. Start at the nearest bookstore, order the rest and start on those post-haste.

d) Repeat this step with some of the new books, but not all.  

e) Regain some composure.

f) Get back to the original book, many, many months later.

g) Pat myself on the back for sticking too it eventually and reading the one I was "supposed" to start with.

Now, I learned a very important lesson in life not so long ago.  "Don't think of life in linear's", said a friend, while holding a very expensive glass of whiskey. 

It took me awhile to figure that one out.  I sat on it, played with it, tried to fit it in.  It's simple, and sounds profound and it could be interpreted in many ways.  But, after awhile, it made perfect sense.  Say it to yourself.  


PS: If your persistent, you will get back to that original book, and, if you got some grit, you'll even finish it.

A little flexibility, some stamina, and commitment can get you conquering your book queue.  Now, multiply that by X.  Something much, much bigger then what to read next.