I’ve never been the kind of person who can read many books at once. Obviously no one can read multiple books simultaneously (I assume?), but I’ve known people who claim to have two, three, or more books in progress, reading one or another whenever the mood hits. I was never able to do such a thing.
I still can’t. I’m the type of reader who sticks with a book until the end, regardless of slow pacing, contrived plot twists, or murdered main characters. I’ve only given up on a handful of books, and I feel guilty about it to this day (I call myself a Steinbeck fan, but for the life of me I can’t make it through The Grapes of Wrath, despite having read East of Eden three times). I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to flit back and forth between books like certain friends and family members, but as of late I’ve been taking steps in that direction.
When I start a new book series, I tend to stay devoted to the series until I finish it or until I reach the end of what’s available (see: Wheel of Time). I came to Harry Potter, Wheel of Time, and Sword of Truth late, only beginning these series once the bulk of their content had already been released. I was able to race through the first five Harry Potter books right before the sixth came out, leaving me feeling faithful to the series. Sure, I read all of Sword of Truth (excepting the final book) while waiting for HP and the Deathly Hallows, but it didn’t feel like cheating since I hadn’t abandoned the series while there was still material left to complete.
Where I was once a monogamous reader, staying true to my series until their completion, I’ve now become an absolute series slut, a literary adulteress, so to speak. It all started with a curious foray into our junk room — home to an old television, massive amounts of books, and a couch no one sits on — and my discovery of a fantasy series I had heard great things about but had yet to read: the first book of the Song of Ice and Fire series, A Game of Thrones. I devoured the book quickly, expecting to be able to dig right in to book two once I was finished. But I was foiled! Boyfriend’s preference for listening to audiobooks rather than reading physical copies meant I had to order a copy of the second book if I wanted to read it (and I did…I mostly hate listening to audiobooks).
While I waited for the book to arrive, I saw Boyfriend enjoying a new series and became intrigued. The books had come in a boxed set and had been a gift from me this past Christmas, so it was one of the rare occasions on which he was reading the actual book rather than listening to it. I asked him a few questions about the books and was instantly hooked. I picked up the first book and didn’t stop until I reached the last one in the set. That was how I found myself addicted to the Sookie Stackhouse novels.
A Clash of Kings, book two in the Song of Ice and Fire series, didn’t arrive until after I finished the last Sookie book we owned. The rub was that our boxed set ended at book seven, and the author of the Sookie Stackhouse novels had released book eight a while back and book nine is slated to be released in May. If I started reading A Clash of Kings, I’d be cheating on Sookie, but wasn’t I already cheating on the Song of Ice and Fire? I ordered book eight of Sookie’s saga two weeks ago and held off on reading A Clash of Kings. But then I was faced with a newer, shinier option. Boyfriend was encouraging me to start reading The Hollows series, as he named his City of Heroes character after someone in the books and wanted me to get certain references he made. Against my better judgment I relented and let him purchase the first book, Dead Witch Walking, for me. I read it in less than two days. I loved it. I wanted the next book.
Instead I got From Dead to Worse, Sookie Stackhouse book eight, in the mail and read it. Then yesterday I started A Clash of Kings (still working on it). Now Boyfriend has promised to purchase the next book in The Hollows series for me tomorrow. And here I am, a literary polyamorist, happily sorting through three series, trying in vain to keep character names and plots separated in my tiny lady brain. In addition, I’m writing a novel of my own at the moment (almost at 30,000 words) and have a terrible habit of taking on the voice of authors I’ve recently read in my writing. I’ve gotten better at suppressing it, but if I’m not careful it comes out; I can already see the subtle influence that George R.R. Martin (the author of Song of Ice and Fire) has had on this blog post. Good thing I didn’t feel in the mood to work on the novel today.
I’m sure this seems very ordinary to most, but for me it’s an odd change. It reminds me a lot of my attitude toward MMOs. I always felt like I needed to stay devoted to a single game, and often ignored news about other games just so I wouldn’t be tempted to stray. Now look at me: I’ve left WAR for CoX, but am looking longingly at Free Realms and even caught myself taking a peek at WoW wiki yesterday. Is my abandonment of hobby monogamy a sign that I’m maturing, or is it as wrong and dirty as it feels?
I mentioned in my last post that many game pundits are commenting on the fact that most gamers are no longer one-title players, preferring instead to try out many different kinds of games. Most TV viewers are able to dedicate time to multiple series across many networks, and only the most diehard sports fan restricts his viewership to a single sport. Is it a natural development that players will eventually branch out and seek many games at once for entertainment, or that a prudish reader like me will slut it up with multiple book series? I think it’s likely that this sort of path is inevitable, especially with increasingly better games and book series being released these days (and with so many of the book series getting adapted to TV shows and movies, the chance is only increased further). I suppose it’s just something I’ll have to get used to, as I see the launch of exciting new MMOs and widen my reading interests. I don’t have to like it, though, and it still feels horribly dirty. I’m a hobby monogamist at heart, but a practicing hobby whore. Won’t someone think of the children?