There was a day when I had a strict one-book-at-a-time policy. I could only focus on one book at a time, I said. I wanted to give it my full attention, I said. Aside from assigned class readings, I managed to maintain this through my undergrad years.
And then somewhere in the course of my seminary days, I was converted. I came tumbling from that place a simultaneous reading fiend...deviant...guru...person. I have yet to decide if this is an admirable quality.
Though I have not yet thrown myself into two novels at a time, I could have bookmarks and dog earred pages through books of short stories, sermons, and a variety of non-fiction books at a given time.
The current quota: three. At Home in Exile: Finding Jesus Among My Ancestors & Refugee Neighbors by Russell Jeung, God-Soaked Life: Discovering a Kingdom Spirituality by Chris Webb, and a book of sermons by Frederick Buechner. (All of these have been excellent so far.) Though in the name of full disclosure, I should mention there is a novel (Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko) in transit to my house that I'll be reading with a group of seminary friends. That will make four.
Does dipping my brain into all of these at the same time (well, not the exact same moment - I haven't mastered that skill yet) add to the ideas sprinting and springing through my head? Probably.
Considering the work related reading I'm also doing and my limited human brain, should I cut this back? Possibly.
But the slower pace, the parallel exchange of ideas, the time for life to breath between the pages - this helps me make connections I might not otherwise make if I simply plowed through. It keeps the themes in these books in my conversation and reflection. And in my experience, that's how books settle down into you and shape your life and thinking.
Am I trying to convert you? Not exactly. Perhaps I'm still trying to convert myself.
Thanks for coming along for the ride and for humoring my random Friday morning thoughts today. Are you a one-book-at-a-time person or a multiple-book person? Or not a reader at all?