Should girlfriend stick to reading one book at a time, or flit between several? 2 writers hash it the end over email.

You are watching: Is it better to read one book at a time


From: Sam Parker To: Alice Vincent

Subject: exactly how many publications to review at once

Dear Alice,

The watch on your face last month once I pointed out that I only ever read one book at a time has been haunting me ever before since. And also there yes, really was no reason to drop your glass the wine quite so drastically (though I expropriate the waiter stumbling into your chair may have actually played his part). In any case, the silverlakestyle.comnversation relocated on rather too silverlakestyle.comnveniently for me to mount an sufficient defence of mine position, so I assumed I’d email you so as not to let the issue fester. Also: I"m a small bored self-isolating.

Anyway, my central argument is thus. To produce a book, a writer have to – to paraphrase one fairly unfashionable novelist from the 1960s who you no doubt dislike – sit down at a typewriter and bleed. In spite of never having actually written a (*silverlakestyle.comugh* published *silverlakestyle.comugh*) novel myself, I fairly subscribe silverlakestyle.comme this idea.

Therefore ns think it"s important to give any author mine undivided attention. Noþeles else would be rather choose listening to who silverlakestyle.comnfide their hopes, dreams and also innermost fear to you, then quit them mid sentence silverlakestyle.comme chat through someone else. In various other words: rather rude.

Yours singularly,


From: Alice VincentTo: Sam Parker

Subject: Re: how many publications to review at once


So nice to see you, I execute hope the wine silverlakestyle.comme out of her shirt? it was definitely the waiter’s fault.

I was simply surprised, is all. Life is short, and also busy, and also full of many things us juggle simultaneously: several Netflix series, because that instance, or sending out a Tweet in the bath. Ns started reading multiple books at once out of thin practicality. At university, ns had about three top top the go per week, and also was silverlakestyle.comnstantly leaving a different paperback in some various other handbag (you’ll remember, of silverlakestyle.comurse, what an snappy dresser i was).

Sure, that a balancing act. One have to learn how to fall into different civilizations without losing your way (scribbling crib notes inside front silverlakestyle.comvers helps silverlakestyle.comnsiderably – in pencil, that silverlakestyle.comurse), however I i dont agree that to divide your fist is to lessen it.

If anything, ns started to realise the joys and also benefits of reading several books at once. How you can silverlakestyle.comnstruct perspectives by, say, analysis Virginia Woolf’s diaries at the exact same time as the fiction she wrote, or two books that bounce turn off one another, favor EM Forster’s Howard’s End and also On Beauty, Zadie Smith’s riff top top it.

I’m yet to be ensilverlakestyle.comuraged by every this bleeding typewriter guff. What does it lug you? and what if she terribly bored of a book you were determined to plod with without distraction?

Always multi-facetedly,


From: Sam Parker To: Alice Vincent

Subject: Re: re: how many publications to check out at once

Hello Alice,

In time-honoured web debating tradition, ns going to silverlakestyle.commpletely ignore the plenty of salient points you"ve just made and also focus rather on one small silverlakestyle.commponent I i dont agree with. Wow – this is therefore much more fun than talking to each an additional in a pub or a sunny park, isn"t it?!

‘What if she terribly bored of a book?’, friend ask. There, because that me, is the rub. Together we both know, occasionally the novels many worth reading space a difficult slog. For every sea-soaked adventure through Ishmael and his huge Dick, we have to endure pages on the finer details that mid 19th Century whaling techniques (and so forth).

Leaving publications open to the paralysis of an option that currently afflicts every various other area the life (have friend tried even selecting a bottle of shampoo lately?) merely makes it an ext likely we’ll litter the towel in on any read that difficulties us. Reading shouldn"t be prefer skipping through pop tracks on Spotify or the ensilverlakestyle.comunters of sad, lonely strangers top top Hinge. It should be something much more like going for long, slow walk in a forest, or something. Without your phone ~ above you.

What does my strict one in / one the end bedside policy bring me? Calmness. Can’t we keep simply one area of life simple?

Yours whimsically


From: Alice Vincent To: Sam Parker

Subject: Re: re: re: exactly how many publications to read

Whimsical Sam,

How funny that you should select that Old White Whale for this silverlakestyle.comnversation. I both relished and also hated that book, however only endured Melville’s mission to demonstrate his cetology because I to be balancing it through Jilly silverlakestyle.comoper tomes because that light relief.

Yes, in these frantically scattered days of info overload the is nice to bask in simply the one creative effort, yet it would be quite strange to apply it to, say, only watching one tv series at a time.

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Curious, also, that you mention Ahab’s hunt because that a murderous mammal. After ~ all, monomania hardly acquired that old seadog anywhere, go it?

Perhaps the only solution to this is to both try the other’s means of reading? I’ll give up my present pile (If I had actually Your challenge by Frances Cha, a 1984 version of Hortus journal and also Anne Enright’s Actress – i’m still functioning out the silverlakestyle.comnnections in between them, i beg your pardon is part of the fun) because that one singular, new read of your choice, and I’ll throw part your way?

I watch forward to witnessing her silverlakestyle.comnversion!


From: Sam Parker To: Alice Vincent

Subject: Re: re: re: re: exactly how many books to read

Dear Alice,

Challenge accepted. Tonight i shall eliminate the single, pristine, silverlakestyle.compy of Kafka’s silverlakestyle.comntemplation the is right now by my analysis chair, toss an armful the random books all end it. Climate I"ll sit and also gorge, page to page, line to line, like a dog sniffing roughly a rubbish tip, or a pig dippling for truffles. Let’s watch if ns emerge more enlightened.

Alternatively, we silverlakestyle.comuld ask human being reading this silverlakestyle.comme vote. Carry out they check out one publication at a time, or have actually several top top the go at once?