Saturday, April 18, 2009

Multi-Tasker Reading Habits

For years, I only read one book at a time. When I began teaching, I still differentiated between my own pleasure reading and my teaching reading (since I always try to read what I assign my students when I assign it.) More and more, though, I suppose as I feel the backlog of books not yet read piling up behind me, I balance several books at a time--one in the car on CD or tape, one actual book, and one loaded on my eBook.

Right now I've started Kathryn Stockett's The Help, based on lots of recommendations. It sits beside my bed where I can read late at night or first thing in the morning. I found myself needing an e-read though, since that format works best when I hit the bicycle or treadmill at the gym. I started reading Look Me in the Eye by John Elder Robinson, the brother of Augusten Burroughs (author of Running with Scissors), and I can't stop reading it. This book is the memoir of a man who lived with undiagnosed Asperger's, a form of autism. He just thought he was "defective" and learned in many ways to cope.

Anyone even somewhat familiar with Burroughs' book knows the boys grew up under less-than-ideal family circumstances. I am finding Robinson's insight fascinating. I may slip in a chapter or two of The Help, but I am happy to know that story will be waiting when I'm ready to jump back in head first.

Meanwhile, my read for the road is James Meek's The People's Act of Love. I have had a harder time becoming engaged with, much less engrossed in, this novel, but something has made me press on. Without giving too much of the story away, I did find a little self-mutilation section vivid and hard to forget. Some of the prose is beautiful. Maybe I just need to peruse the copy of the book so I can get all those Russian names planted firmly in my mind. After I finish, I'll report whether or not the time invested (nine CDs) was worth the ride. I have a feeling it will be.

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