It’s 5:15 am and the heat just turned on. I think I’ll go downstairs and pick up one of the books I’m in the midst of reading.
I used to amuse myself by alternately reading two books at a time. I select my reading material carefully (from Abebooks.com) and in most cases, I can pick up a book, tune out the world and the rest of my life until I get to the last page. Sometimes though, my alternating book practice would help me to stay with something that was losing its fizzle in the middle by taking a break from one and going to the other. Not sure how or even when it happened, but now I’m completely out of control.
I’m reading 5 books at once.
And it’s not good. For a person like me (a Gemini) who is weak on completing things anyway, this sad situation has allowed me to compartmentalize my reading according to where I am at the time rather thean focusing on engaging with the storylines. This is largely dependent upon the physical size of the book. Here’s how it shakes out:
Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri This one is a collection of 8 stories, some interrelated. This is one of my travel books and the format lends itself well to connecting flights. A few weeks ago when I made 4 flights in 36 hours, it was my faithful companion. It’s a paperback octavo so it just barely fits in my purse and its getting banged up.
White Teeth by Zadie Smith I was so intrigued after I watched the BBC mini-series on Hulu that I wanted to get deeper into the characters so I got the book. This one is a hardcover quarto so its even less appropriate to shove into my handbag. I’ve taken to packing it in my suitcase so that I have something to read in my spare time in hotel rooms. p.s. It turns out that I never have any free time in hotel rooms.
To Absent Friends by Red Smith Just got this one recently. Fascinating! A collection of newspaper columns from this sportswriter written immediately after the passing of sports giants. Now I know who Pop Warner was. It’s a 1″ thick hardcover and I have enough hardcovers to drag around now so it sits waiting for me on the table next to my TV-watching chair.
I’m starting to see a pattern here. I was so traumatized that my paperback copy of the 1000+ page The Powerbroker from 1974 went to pieces before I finished it that I try to get bound hardcovers whenever I can. I see now that is my problem with the portability of these books when I travel.
Neon Metropolis: How Las Vegas Started the Twenty-First Century by Hal Rothman This is critical research for me since an area near Las Vegas is one of our top contenders for a retirement location. I know, right? Did you know that “Nevada in general and Las Vegas in particular are at or near the bottom in many indicators of public life, environmental, and educational health and wellness. The state has even been referred to as the “Alabama of the West”? Still, the showgirl in me thinks that might be a good place to end my days. I’m packing this for my trip to Vegas next week. Where I wont’ have time in the hotel room to read it.
When She Was Bad: The Story of Bess, Hortense and Sukhreet & Nancy by Shana AlexanderThis reads more like an extended gossip mag article from the NYC in the 80s. What’s wrong with that? The”she” in the title is Bess Myerson, the beautiful manipulative former Miss America/friend of mayor Ed Koch whose habit was to leave bags of poop on the doorstep of her former boyfriends. The real fascination here is Sukhreet Gable. Look her up. I didn’t expect to like her as much as I did. Nevertheless, the twists and turns and interrealtionships between Sukhreet, hired for a minor position by Bess in the Office of Cultural Affairs, her mother the judge who favorably ruled on Bess Myerson’s gangster boyfriend’s alimony decision, and Nancy the gangster/city contractor boyfriend’s wife, got to be too weighty about 3/4 of the way through. I started while sitting on the deck last summer – maybe I’ll pick this up and finish it in the summer.
So there we have it: what I’m reading/not reading right now – all at once.