Reading–or juggling–multiple books

As a teacher and a writer, my reading schedule gets a little jammed at times. I certainly have enough to read for my classes (at the moment, Ellison’s Invisible Man and Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451), but I have my other reading as well. For instance, at home I have three separate books that I am dealing with.  Borges’  Collected Fictions next to my bed,  Tom McCarthy’s Remainders traveling back and forth with me on the train, and The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach in the living room.

The nice thing about Borges is that so many of the fictions are short–which is why they sit next to my bed. Because, although they are short, they are dense, and I usually get through one or two at the most before my eyelids start falling.

As I said, the train ride to and from work is when I am reading the McCarthy book, and reading certainly makes the commute go quickly. If the book is good enough, there is a real danger of missing one’s stop. And so far, Remainders is very good. I have an hour commute each way, so these “commuter” books usually are finished within a few days.

And finally, the book that is sitting in the living room, The Art of Fielding.  It is there for after dinner, before bed, before or after grading essays, marking tests, preparing classes.  It is this book–the living room book–that usually takes the longest to complete.  But I’ve learned it’s not a race, and more often than not the quickness of a read is not necessarily an indicator of the quality of the read.

Anyway, my question to you writers out there.  When you are writing, do you deliberately stay away from reading?  Do you read only for “research,” whatever that might entail?  Or do you find that you can continue your usual reading patterns without any interruptions to your writing?


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