Reading on purpose

All these books on the go at the same time?  Yes and many more too.
At first glance it hardly seems to be a productive way to approach the matter of reading.... but if you can watch many different tv series over a week or a month - you can have several books on the go at the same time... Can't you?

That all depends on our purpose for reading.  I read for pleasure, information, ideas and inspiration and reading for these purposes necessarily means having several books on the go at the same time.

Take The Goldfinch there for example.  Now that's a BIG read and naturally involves a good investment of time.  I've cheated a bit with this one though to create room for others.  I've done that by downloading the Audible version as well. The "talking book" recording lasts a total of nearly 32 and a half hours! The audio version means that I can keep the book on the go while driving or doing other things and can resume the pleasure of reading again when I get the chance. Mind you, sometimes I find myself reading the same sentence, paragraph and even page again and on those occasions I will sometimes read along with the recording. That's a useful technique by the way to help absorb information and to develop the pace of reading.

That said, novels like the Goldfinch are best read one at a time.  I wouldn't usually have two reading concurrently.  Even though they too are "stories" I am a big fan of biographies and especially autobiographies. There's June Brown's, The Year Before Dot up there... I haven't got through that too quickly and I guess when a book charts the course of a life it is probably not something to be rushed. I turn to biographies because I am interested in the qualities and resilience people demonstrate in face of life's challenges. You can learn a lot about and from people who have overcome or accepted what life has thrown at them.

There's a book too that appeals to my spiritual side, Paula Fredriksen's, Sin - the early history of an idea. Shelves at home are full of texts and the ones that impress me most are those that back up their opinions with notes and references. This one is in that category and has clear academic credentials. Books like this are go-tos when some controversy or other has been aired and you're left questioning a position or wanting to follow something up.

That's the case too with Karima Bennoune's book, Your Fatwa doesn't apply here. I simply had to get this book after watching her presentation on combatting fundamentalism at a TED conference.  You can watch that presentation here and check if you too are minded to get the book.  You see how that happens? Something comes along, grabs your attention, you want to learn more and you get a book! It does not matter how many other books you have on the go this one needs your attention.

And my final book? It speaks to my francophone/francophile self. It's Helene Gestern's Eux sur la photo.  Yes it's a novel and an exception to the rule I noted above about not reading two at the same time... because this one is in French and therefore serves an additional, linguistic purpose... keeping my second language up-to-speed.  It's a fascinating book, narrated through a series of letters and I've read that it has been translated into English as The People in the Photo.

So there they are... my five on the go and then there is the Kindle library of business and management books and several more audiobooks. Finding the time and creating the space to engage with them all is quite a challenge, but a pleasant one.

I wonder if you agree...

Do you have more than one book on the go at a time?
Do you read for different purposes? What purposes?
What book are you reading now?  Do you have a favourite author?
What's the best book you've ever read?
Hope you'll share!

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