March 7, 2015

Being a Multi-Reader (Or, How I Read 12 Books at Once)

In case you haven't noticed, I read multiple books at once.  No, not 2 or 3.  More like between 7, 8, or...12.  Booklikes calls this a "Polygamist Reader" and Lisa calls it being a "Multi-Reader". 

Kathy (Bermudaonion) asked me if I could write a post about how I read so many books at once and keep everything straight.  I know others are wondering, too, if the comments on my Monday posts are any indication. :)

Here's what I came up with:

Attention Deficit Disorder

The first thing you should know (and you probably have guessed) is that I have A.D.D.  Unmedicated A.D.D.  I was not diagnosed until adulthood and had to figure out for myself how to work with it.  No one taught me how to focus on one thing at a time, and unless I am in a rare state of hyper-focus, my mind is bouncing around everywhere.  It's like a pinball machine inside my skull sometimes.  This is why I like lists and short chapters in books - they help me focus on a smaller section at a time making it easier for me.  

If I want to read for hours, I cannot do it with the same book.  No matter how much I am in love with the story and need to know where everything is headed, I get bored.  I cash out.  My mind starts thinking about grocery lists and Instagram and laundry and setting up a dinner date with my best friend.  I can't do it.  I can't force it.  I start re-reading the same sentence over and over because my mind has basically said

So to continue reading, I switch books.  I have to switch books typically every 20-30 pages.  I did not even realize the actual time limit until Kathy brought up this post idea and I started observing my habits.  On top of this, I typically need music in the background to help me focus on those 20-30 pages.  Not always, though.  Half the time I'm talking to someone on Twitter or texting on my phone and reading while they get back to me.  It's a wonder I get anything accomplished and finished at all sometimes.  Next time you talk to me, ask me how many things I am doing right at that moment.

It's Like TV Shows

I don't see reading multiple books as being different from keeping up with multiple storylines from TV shows.  Consider how many different TV shows you watch during the week.  I'm guessing it is more than one or two.  If we can keep up with the storylines from them, how do the storylines in books differ?  I don't personally find much difference between the two, though I would like some more opinions on this from you all.

Numerous TV Shows, Numerous Books
Tomato, Ta-mah-to

It Helps to Be an Eclectic Reader

What I have been finding this week is that my usual choice to make sure no two books are too much alike is kind of crucial to the multi-reader approach.  I began reading The Witch of Painted Sorrows by M.J. Rose this week for a tour at the beginning of April.  It takes place in Paris.  Well, so does Rodin's Lover by Heather Webb, which I had already started.  Thank goodness one is paranormal/magical realism and the latter historical fiction.  I had a hard time the other day keeping them separate because both have a lot to do with art as well.

So first things first, it helps to be an eclectic reader.  Take a look at what I am currently reading now (which are actually as closely related to each other as you will ever find me reading) :

The Witch of Painted Sorrows by M.J. Rose - fantasy/magical realism/mystery set in Paris
Rodin's Lover by Heather Webb - hist. fiction set in Belle Epoque Paris about art
Lost & Found by Brooke Davis - contemporary quirky novel set in Perth, Australia
The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan - YA mystery/character study set in Scotland
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon - hist. fic. mystery set in 1945 Barcelona 
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood - terrifying (if you ask me) dystopian classic
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - a girl affected by postcolonial Nigeria and a religious zealot
Daughter of the Gods by Stephanie Thorton - hist. fic set in Ancient Egypt
Crane by Stacey Rourke - a re-telling of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Flukes by Nichole Chase - contemporary fantasy about a mermaid
1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die by Mimi Sheraton - nonfiction on food around the world
The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee - a history/bio of cancer

So that is:
4 historical fiction
2 fantasy books
1 dystopian
1 fairy tale/short story re-telling
2 contemporary
3 mysteries
2 nonfiction
2 young adult
1 new adult
1 history
1 foodie book
1 classic
2 literary fiction
1 book about a book
1 book about royalty
2 books about art
1 book about religion
4 character-driven books
5 plot-driven books
1 equally character-and-plot driven book
2 books with beautiful language
1 (possibly 2) scary reads
2 orphans
6 books where the families are very much involved
1 mother whose child was taken away from her
4 books set in Europe
1 book set in Australia
2 set in Africa
1 set in the Bahamas
1 in the U.S.
1 in Canada
2 globally
At least 4 books with POC characters

As you can see, the books have a lot of diversity to them.  I'm not reading 12 books that are all very similar.  If I only read mysteries or only read historical fiction I could definitely see me getting them all kinds of mixed up.

So that's how and why I read so many books at the same time and keep them all straight.

I hope I've done a sufficient job explaining!  Let me know if there are questions.  I am sure I have forgotten something about this.  Even though I've been working on this post for 2 weeks, lol.  

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