The Godfather: Peter Corris on two at a time
I recently heard a writer on a radio book program say that he or she (I’ve forgotten who the writer was) frequently read two books simultaneously. I reflected that this was something I’d rarely done in the past – occasionally when in the middle of a dense non-fiction work I’d sought relief in something lighter or, when presented with a book for review I suspended recreational reading for professional, though I’d often duck back to the earlier book just to keep it in mind.
I’d quite often written two books at the same time back when I had two early-model word processors, one upstairs in a spare room and one in the study downstairs – a Hardy novel downstairs, say, and a Crawley above. But that was from a need to earn advances quickly and often.
Now, however, I deal with reading two books simultaneously all the time. This began during a long stay in hospital. I’d pretty well abandoned e-books on Kindle due to my poor eyesight and was dependent on audio books. As an experiment I asked Jean to adjust the Kindle to see if I could read it comfortably with the font fully blown up. I found that I could, albeit at no more than 20 words per screen. I’d given up on a book when I struggled with a smaller font and I took it up again after finishing an audio. It was Ian McGuire’s The North Water (2017), which I included in my list of best books in 2017. Being able to read more comfortably, I found it fascinating and read it with thorough enjoyment. After a short time I found the frequent touches to advance the pages no problem and was thoroughly immersed in the way compulsive readers are.
Ever since I’ve switched between Kindle and audio, feeling blessed that so many good books are available to me despite my handicap.
This procedure has meant some change in my reading habits. Whereas I can enjoy slow-paced, dense books, fiction or non-fiction, on audio because no physical effort is involved, I find that I can only handle quicker-paced fiction on the Kindle. My eyes become tired and I lose the rhythm of advancing the pages after a long spell. Against that, I sometimes tire of hearing the voice on audio through the headphones, excellent though most of the readers are, and welcome a return to print.
I have just finished James Mace’s Crucible of Honour: The Battle of Rorke’s Drift (2017), a detailed account of the famous episode in the Zulu wars, on audio and Dennis Lehane’s psychological mystery Since We Fell (2017) on Kindle. Both interesting in their different ways. However, a book has to score 9/10 to qualify for my best-of list. Neither of these made the cut.