Book piles and reading habits

Piotrek: Inspired by a recent post by an author capable of following over a dozen books at once, I reflected on my own reading habits. It was illuminating, as I realised they’ve changed quite a bit over the years. I’d certainly have trouble simultaneously reading fifteen books πŸ˜‰ In fact, I used to be a strict serial monogamist in my reading, but I relaxed that rule a bit. First, I’ve added audiobooks – I usually read one dead-tree book and listen to something else (not at once πŸ˜‰ ). I’ve reached “Guards! Guard!” in my Pratchett audio-re-read that way πŸ™‚
My Pratchet set

Side note – I enjoy early Discworld novels even more than I did reading them for the first time, twenty years ago. Some are better than others, but there are no weak links so far and I find myself raising the ratings for most (excluding ones that already had top marks, like Equal Rites).

Ola: I’m rather flexible in the aspect of number of books I read in any given time. Sometimes it’s only one book – but that happens on the rare occasions I devour a book in one-two sittings. Sometimes it’s three to four novels, on different mediums: one or two in paper (one in paperback, the other one in hardcover which is too heavy and cumbersome to be toted around in a bag or backpack ;)), one on Kindle, another one in audiobook, and of course there is always a handful of non-fiction books I’m reading simultaneously. Right now it’s Luttwak’s “Strategy”, Girard’s “Violence and the Sacred”, Polish version of Campbell’s “A Hero with a Thousand Faces” and a book about secret life of mushrooms by Hofrichter… Not to mention comic books πŸ˜‰



Piotrek: There are, of course, some almost-books I’ve got started. Serial fiction, like fanfics, various essays etc… The swallow up my reading time and I’ve restricted amount I read in order to process more books. There are quarterlies I still subscribe to, but haven’t read in some time…

And, lately, I sometimes have another book I slowly read, one chapter at the time, right now it’s a huge tome of Hitchens’ essays I couldn’t take in one bite… sorely missed voice of reason, I often watch him on YT heatedly arguing cases close to my heart. And then there is a pile of stuff I wanted to read ASAP but never started, like the accounting textbook I borrowed from a friend a year ago… one day, I promise.

Ola: Yeah, I have some of these as well… Ekhm… Celtic mythology is still awaiting its turn, and not in the least because it’s not interesting! I just don’t seem to have a mood for it πŸ˜‰

Piotrek: It’s ok, as long as it’s at your place, I don’t feel guilty not reading it myself πŸ˜‰

When the time comes to choose my next read, I just meditate in front of my bookshelves for a couple of minutes, ignoring any previous resolutions πŸ™‚ There are books waiting years for the right mood, books I’m sure I’ll enjoy, but feel no need to read them right now. Some Asimov’s novels wait a decade or so, Czajkowski was on my shelf for a year, and I’ve bought entire Malazan set… in early 2017, but I still can’t find the time for my second attempt at “Gardens of the Moon”.

Ola: It’s the problem of actually having the books you want to read – having almost all of them πŸ˜‰ There are books I’m saving for a dark hour… I know they’ll be good and I keep them for the inevitable onset of a reading slump or a case of bad mood, or simply as an antidote to some failed reading experiments. It’s the case with the last Black Company books, for example.

Piotrek: I’ve began to suspect I might never read everything I want to…

Ola: Oh well, congratulations! It’s really high time to get realistic πŸ˜‰

Piotrek: But, just as a kind of mental exercise, imagine you live a couple hundred years and finally read everything you ever wanted to… is life after books possible ;)?


Ola: Not in my experience ;). If you could live a couple hundred years, so could others, and writers among them, churning out one book after another :P. But seriously, I think that storytelling as creating sense-imbued narratives about the world around us and ourselves is a defining human trait. And as such, it won’t ever get boring or unnecessary. There is something special about books, Gutenberg revolution or not, that satisfies both the emotional and the logical parts of our brains – of course, not all books are like that ;). I personally enjoy very much the physicality of a book, the fact that I can go back to anything I’ve read anytime I want to and the only difference will be in myself, not the actual words on paper or screen. Whereas with oral cultures, or theater, the situation of telling and listening is different every single time ;). Do you think you could really read all the books you ever wanted and not want reading anymore?


Piotrek: Ok, no, of course not. I will be forever lost in a labyrinth of the ever expanding Library, always happy, but never fully satisfied πŸ™‚

17 thoughts on “Book piles and reading habits

  1. Awesome, awesome, awesome.
    Just because I’m curious, the fourth picture down is not clickable. Could you update that? I want to see what’s there πŸ˜€

    I also know what you mean about not knowing what you want to read or “saving” a book for a slump. Thankfully, the system I instituted last year seems to be working really well for me in that regards and I’m riding right along. (Murphy’s Law now says I will hit a really bad reading slump. Sigh)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks! You do read a lot and I egoistically hope that you’ll conquer any reading slumps if only to keep on serving as a role model or an object of envy to other, less diligent readers πŸ˜›

    Liked by 1 person

    1. piotrek

      Oh,that’s a Polish edition of a French series of illustrated history books for kids, I grew up reading them πŸ™‚ Some of the illustrators also did jobs for the excellent Osprey military history series..

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “A labyrinth of the ever expanding Library” — I often think I’m in a Jorge Luis Borges story of my own making, involving labyrinthine paths, acres of bookshelves and a future of reading which seems to stretch out infinitely but I know will soon come to an end for me. And the truth that sometimes — often, in fact — I have to meditate on what mood I have at any given time and then go stand surveying the shelves to find the exact book that matches the emotion, well, that resonated with the exact same scenario one of you mentioned.

    What virtual worlds we create for ourselves! A fine stimulating post, thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Chris! The luxury of choosing an exact reading match for one’s mood is a treasure indeed πŸ™‚ What a vast library you must have! I’m not much of a re-reader, but I as well very often choose books based on my expectations of the content/author quality, or even sheer fancy. That is, when I don’t have to read a specific book πŸ˜‰
      Borges’ Library is a wonderful starting point but to me Pratchett’s idea of the L-space seems even better πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ooh, L-space, joys to come I can see! Thanks for the heads-up on Pratchett’s library, Ola, any particular book in the series?

        At the last rough count (about four years ago) I estimated I only had about 1500 books after discarding/recycling/rehousing many in preparation for a house move. I suspect it may have crept up a bit since then…

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Congratulations! Both on the steel resolve of getting rid of some books and on the recent numbers πŸ™‚ Somehow I suspect it’s more than that now πŸ˜‰
          Umm, not sure really if there’s one book describing the L-space in detail. I guess “Guards, guards” is a good starting point, but the L-space and its various applications appear in several Pratchett’s books πŸ™‚
          Aaand as a big fan of Pratchett I’m bound to say that it’s best to read all the Discworld novels in order πŸ˜€

          Liked by 1 person

    2. piotrek

      Thank you. And yes! That’s exactly what I meant. That’s the point of having a library, not merely some device capable of storing text files. Let Borges, and Eco, be our masters here πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s been a few years since lack of shelf space and the need to un-clutter my home (not to mention the ready availability) have turned me toward e-reader and e-books, but still, when I seen filled bookshelves that go from floor go ceiling, I tend to salivate. Pavlovian conditioning… πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

    Liked by 2 people

    1. piotrek

      I intend never to give up on that, I hope I won’t have to πŸ™‚ I was an early adopter of e-readers, but I use my old Nook strictly as a backup option… although now I have shelf-space for about half a year, the herd will have to be culled…

      Liked by 1 person

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