It’s funny how reading habits can fluctuate. I’m usually reading two or three books at the same time and mostly fiction. I tend to read more literary novels and short story collections or anthologies. That’s not to say that I don’t read non-fiction or genre fiction, but after having developed certain tastes, which I derive reading pleasure from, and as a source of self-study for my own writing, I tend to enjoy the literary end of the spectrum more. At least that’s what I’d like to believe, until I looked at the all the books I’m currently reading, scattered about my apartment, with bookmarks jumping out of each one…
On the Literary spectrum
To start with, it’s no where near three books. I’m currently reading John Updike’s ‘The Maples Stories’, which is a collection of stories about… yes, the Maples. These eighteen stories about the relationship of the Maples’ couple were written over a thirty-year span of Updike’s career and this reason, most of all, was interesting enough for me to read the book. I’m only a quarter of the way through.
Another collection I’m reading, on and off, is D.H. Lawrence’s ‘Complete Short Story Collection’. Now this is one of those really bulky hardcovers where the stories make for a nice bedtime read, but the book is just too darn heavy to hold up for an hour, while trying to relax and fall asleep. So this one’s a long term project involving my desk. Besides, there’s only so much old-school romance stories a person like myself can handle in one sitting.
The third literary book I’m ploughing my way through is Elizabeth Gaskell’s ‘Cranford’. Like many Victorian novels, the social issues of the society at the time are under the microscope. I’m determined to pull through this one even though I’m gritting my teeth at times.
And all the others
However, literary fiction aside, I’m also reading an interesting science fiction omnibus, Octavia E. Butler’s ‘Xenogenesis’, which focuses on group dynamics and social theories, a theme quite common to the genre. On the other hand, it does focus equally on relationship development and (alien) sexual exploration, a much less common theme in the genre, making it a fresh read. I’m at the end of book one (of three).
I was reading (and decided to stop) Hannah Tinti’s ‘The Good Thief’, simply because I was awed at the masterful collection ‘Animal Crackers’ which I reviewed earlier. This book, however, turned out to be a great disappointment and by page 90 I couldn’t go on. I wanted to write a review and express my disappointment and surprise at how, from one book to the next, I went from being awed to being frustrated. However, I did some research and found out about all the acclaim the novel received, so I’m going to give it one more try before finally deciding what I think of it.
And finally, I’m also reading a philosophy book by Daniel C. Denette ‘Freedom Evolves’, which is about the age old debate of free will vs. determinism and Denette’s take on this… basically, we live in a determined world where we have free will, and this evolves by (…I can only finish this sentence when I finish the book!) and because of (ditto!).
There you have it. Just when I thought I really don’t read more than three books at a time, I’m reading six. I can still recall the day when I would not start a new book until I finished the one I was reading (or quit it). I guess linear thinking is just too limiting.
So what are your reading habits? And what books can you recommend me?