The Art of Reading Several Books at Once

Posted about 3 weeks ago by Naomi D'Archangel
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As an avid and hungry reader, I am in a constant state of flux, reading several books at the “same time.” Why the quotations there? It’s not like I have them all open in front of me, reading one page each before turning pages. No, instead I have found use in having different books for different occasions and moods. By “same time” I mean more that I can pick up where I left off on multiple stories, sometimes more than one in a day.

You might be asking, just how many books are we talking about here? At the moment, I have bookmarks in no less than eight books. While that may seem like a lot, those familiar with my reading practices know that this is not outside the realm of ordinary. In addition to these current reads, I’ve checked out 8 books for a research project on L. Frank Baum from my Main RPL branch, checked out 4 books on Overdrive (love that app!), and borrowed another 5 books with no due date from a different source. I’m a creature that can spend a whole weekend with a stack of books and some snacks and be so happy with the time spent that I’d forget to sleep. I’m blessed to be able to let myself fall into a story insomuch that I don’t notice the turning of pages or even the words in front of me as I see it become real in my mind, a movie playing in my imagination. Here’s my current books being read, in no particular order, and why I’m still reading them instead of finishing. Down the rabbit hole we go!

The Plant Paradox

This book was a gift, intended to assist me with some health issues that are occasionally a pain. It’s not a diet perse in the sense of trying to help someone lose weight but it does restrict what one can and cannot eat in the attainment of “healthy living.” More than a list of do’s and do not’s, this book has several stories and case studies made by a doctor, rightfully titled, whose goal was to find out why some diets helped people live longer and vice versa. That being said, this is an extremely difficult read for me because the author skips around, quickly. He’ll be telling one story and mid-way through he will find a tangent or two and not quite get back to the original story. That’s why it’ll be a while before I can fully digest this piece.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

A book that’s been on my to-be-read goal list for at least seven years now. I finally came across it and couldn’t pass it up. Upon beginning it, I feel a strong temptation to read it and pass it on to a friend that I believe could make good use of its information. I’m only 50 or so pages in so far but it reads so smoothly. I really enjoy how it makes one think about philosophical points and how life can be related to any topic but particularly here being motorcycle maintenance. Don’t worry, one doesn’t need to understand the mechanics of a motorcycle in order to understand or appreciate this book’s lessons.

Night Life of the Gods by Thorne Smith

Ah, an old favorite here, reread multiple times. It tells the story of one Hunter Hawk who is an inventor in the Prohibition Era that likes to annoy his uptight leech-like relatives with explosions. With the help of a 900 year old leprechaun named Megaera, they find a way to turn people to stone and statues into real live people. They unleash a herd of Greek gods, Neptune, Bacchus, Diana, Apollo, Perseus, Mercury, and Hebe, on New York City. The results are as hilarious and delightful as one might imagine. For me, reading this book is like a hug from an old friend. It makes me smile when I’m down and comforts me when upset. I pick it up when I need familiar reassurance that whatever is going on in my life, at least I didn’t release some gods on unsuspecting mere mortals.

Blood of the Lamb by Sam Cabot

Another beloved book. This one is a bit strange for my normal reading habits as I’m a little too easily spooked but after first reading it has become the standard by which I judge other possibly creepy books. It’s about vampires and the history of the Catholic Church. Vampirism here is simply a blood disease, only passed on when a vampire gives you some of their blood. Once you’ve been changed, you no longer age and are immune to normal human diseases. It can save someone from the brink of death and gives the bearer increased senses and speed. Throughout this story a Catholic priest unwillingly teams up with a female vampire, both charged by their superiors with finding a document that could spell disaster for their two communities. He is a historian by trade, whose focus just happens to be on the time period during which this document was hidden. She is connected with the person threatening to disclose it to the world so they have to work together to find it before the aggressor does. Their trip around Rome to numerous historical sites is a beautiful lesson for my historically-minded self that not everything is what it seems on the surface and that history does not always tell the full truth of certain happenings. The twists and turns of this book keep me on my toes and I love the reveal every time I read it. It’s another comfort book for me for when I tire of direct or sluggish history accounts.

Hollow Earth: Bone Quill by John and Carole Barrowman

This book is the second in the Hollow Earth Series by these two (they’re siblings, not a couple, before you ask.) I just started this one, having a great love for John Barrowman, I borrowed it the second I laid eyes on it completely disregarding the fact that I haven’t read book one. So far I’ve only learned that there are twins that can turn their drawings into life, reminiscent of Inkheart if you ask me. Their father attempts to misuse their power to open a doorway into another dimension in order to look for a mysterious object. Their mother and grandfather save them just in the nick of time and then send them for training, as it were, for their powers as they get older and to keep them safe from their father. The rest of the story should be just as gripping. This is a book I plan to read in short snippets at a desk so that I can prolong the enjoyment of it. It’s shorter than most things I read and I don’t want to finish it too quickly.

The Diary of Nannie Haskins Williams: A Southern Woman’s Story of Rebellion and Reconstruction, 1863-1890 (Voices of the Civil War)edited by Minoa Uffelman, Ellen Kanervo, Phyllis Smith, and Eleanor Williams

This book is dear to me because one of the editors was one of my college teachers! I was lucky enough to have her (and her collaborators) sign my copy with a personal note. Nannie Haskins was a teenage girl who wrote in her diary about the occupation of the Union in Clarksville, Tennessee during the Civil War. Such a first person account, especially by a teenage girl, is intriguing and I loved seeing the area from her perspective. I pick this one up when I want to remember that anyone can make a difference in history, regardless of their age.

Hans Christian Anderson original fairy tale collection

Another recent gift here. I’ve loved seeing how the stories have changed through the years. It starts with possibly the most famous, The Little Mermaid. I have to say, as catchy as the songs were in the Disney version, I enjoy the original more. I stopped just before the story of The Snow Queen. Having recently seen Richmond’s version of her at the Children’s Museum’s Santaland, the memory is too fresh for me to continue just yet. I’m certain that it’ll change my perspective. I can’t bring myself to just skip it either so my bookmark will keep that place for several months yet at least.

Castle in the Air

This is a book that I wasn’t expecting to find. It’s a companion to Howl’s Moving Castle. I should have known better that a movie that good wasn’t only a movie. The book is, as per usual, even more enjoyable. This complimentary book to the first was completely fascinating. It follows the tale of a young carpet merchant who has dreams of grandeur. These dreams include gardens, his own kidnapping as a baby by a notorious hooligan because he is a prince, and meeting a princess. One day he is offered the chance to buy a magic carpet, which of course he does, and slowly dreams start becoming reality. I can’t wait to see how it ties in with Howl, Sophie, and Calcifer! This is another book that will be a desk read because it’s easy to pick up and put down as needed.

To conclude, I hope that you enjoyed this delving into my mind and bookshelves. Maybe this can alter your perspective about what is possible when it comes to reading and your wonderful imaginations.

I believe in you all!

About the Author

Naomi is a recent transplant to Richmond and a voracious eclectic reader. She can often be found with stacks of varied books, from romance and history to science fiction and children's stories. She's at the Main Library's Children's Department and loving every minute of it. Always up for conversations about books, feel free to stop by to say hi or drop an email!

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