I just had a flashback to an image of the end table beside my grandfather’s reading chair. He loved to read paperback mysteries and westerns (they used to call these books “oaters,” because they had horses in them and horses like to eat oats). He would always read about ten books at a time, and would stack them in a small tower, each book face down, spine split and open to mark his current page. My preference was to stay with one book at a time, and read it all the way through. I was amazed that my grandfather could read so many novels at once, and still manage to keep track of all the characters and plots.
Maybe he had the right idea. As students, we take several subjects at a time. Our English and history and math and science textbooks could be stacked the same way, at least metaphorically, as we go through different subjects according to the day’s schedule. If we watch any television shows with repeating characters, the experience can be similar to switching among different books after we’ve read a chapter (unless we rent the DVD of a show’s entire season and watch it all in a marathon).
With the new eBook reading devices, I’m surprised to realize I’ve switched to reading several books at the same time. The electronic device saves the place where I last read (just like my grandfather’s technique, but without damaging a book’s spine). I might be reading a horror story, a mystery, and a comedic self-help book, and I can switch among them according to my interest or mood. It’s a different approach to my “pleasure reading” time, but I like it because it ensures that I’m never bored.
And if I get really interested in a specific book, I can always switch back to my old one-at-a-time strategy until I finish!
—Dr. Norman Prentiss
Instructor, English Department Chair