Can you read just one book at a time?
I can’t, unless it’s impossibly engrossing (the last one was Here Burns My Candle, a Scottish historical novel by Liz Curtis Higgs).
I don’t always mean to get started on so many books. But I love them because they speak to my heart and mind. They wriggle past the outward fronts I put on and give me sharp lectures or hope-giving inspiration. They’re companionable when I don’t feel like talking. They’re adventures that come cheaper than a plane ticket. So I put a good read on my nightstand…and then add another…and another…and so it goes.
Really, though, I think I read multiple books at a time because real life has many parts. I am more than just a learning brain: I am also an imagination, a soul, and a body. I am a worker, a server, a dreamer, a pilgrim, and I stand in need of beauty as well as instruction. I read multiple books simultaneously for the same reason I schedule more than one type of activity into my week. I lesson plan, but I also watch movies. I have coffee with friends, but sometimes I’m alone in the quiet house. I spend time both praying and walking. We are whole people with multiple areas of life, and each of those areas has different needs.
I suppose you could call it holistic reading. The good part about it is when I have a moment to read, I almost always have something I feel inclined to read right then, no matter what time of the day or week.
Just as I sometimes schedule too many activities into a week, however holistic they may be, sometimes I take on more reading than I can actually handle. Ever have that feeling? The spines look so pretty, all fitting snugly together on the shelf, until you realize you haven’t opened any of them in a week. Or more. And that even when you do snag a stray hour for reading, you spend a quarter of it in paralysis before the bookshelf, worrying and wondering over which volume you should spend the time on.
Right now, for example. It started out as a very holistic plan, with some books for each different area of life. It went like this: