Book Swap!

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.asos

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).

fd2w1While 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.

dww1

I'll thank you not to judge my new book by its cover.

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?

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11 Responses to Book Swap!

  1. Regis says:

    I have no problem reading books simultaneously. Lately I have been swapping Confessor, Elminster and Dune Messiah. Some part of Confessor are just so incredible dull that I just have to read something else to not flip out and burn the thing, which the library where I borrowed it would… dislike.

    And bringing Confessor with you to the toilet (600 pages hardcover)? Not very likely. I know some consider it tabu (yes, I’m looking at you Seinfeld), but I never had any problems bringing borrowed books to the toilet – I treat any book like I do my own.
    Instead Elminster or Dune Messiah are perfect in their pocket form and few pages.

  2. Audiobooks are Satan’s work . . . are you sure your man is not perhaps in league with the devil? 🙂

    I (generally) read one book at a time. At times I stop reading completely, and will leave a book unfinished. That is not always because I don’t like the book, though there have been a few instances in which that was the case.

    For me I tend to read in spurts. Vacation time is prime reading time for me. I tend to read voraciously whenever I am truly “on holiday” . . . and not so much when I return. As a result I have a bit of a backlog right now.

    (On the MMO front I’ve played Free Realms and LotRO this past week, and I’m going to try CoX. So I am a bad example of monogamy in MMOs, and always have been.)

  3. Pete S says:

    I can ‘multi-task’ books but only by mixing genres. I can have a work of fiction, a non-fiction like history or a biography, and maybe a self-help or tech book on my bookstand at the same time. I *can* have but lately have been trying to avoid it. (Usually what happens is I’ll be reading something dry and just *need* a cool sip of fantasy literature to help me get through, and then I’m hooked.)

    And like you, I find it really hard to leave a book unfinished. It nags at me… I never finish games (rarely hit cap in an MMO or finish a single player game) but books need to be read start to finish. Same thing with magazines. Cover-to-cover, straight through. I’m unable to browse.

    Angela loves The Hollows books. She has ’em all (I gave her the latest hardcover as a late Christmas gift) and keeps bugging me to read them. I read the first one and did enjoy it. I love that Harrison takes her titles from old spaghetti westerns!

    I try not to jump series just because I can never remember what was going on if I do. I’m waiting for Martin to finish a Song of Ice & Fire before I pick him up again. Read the first 3 and was left hanging…

    • Jennifer says:

      It’s awful to start working on a series when it’s still incomplete. It’s especially disheartening when you look at the publication dates for A Song of Ice & Fire: 1996 for the first book and 2005 for the fourth? I started reading SoI&F in spite of this sad fact because, at the time, I had nothing else to read. Now that I’ve gotten hooked on it (and two other series that are still in progress), I’m wondering if that was a mistake. ;p

  4. skarbd says:

    Clash of the kings is awesome work. Don’t get to attached to any of the characters in the series. No one is safe.

    Don’t rush this guy, since he so bloody slow. He was starting to produce as quickly as Robert Jordan (just before he died). Which I am sure you know, isn’t quick at all.

    I walked away from jordan after book 6 and said to myself no more, until the series was finished. Though David Gerald Chtorr series makes Jordan appear rapid. I was twenty when I started on that, the bastardo.

    If you want a recommendations list, then let me know.

    • Jennifer says:

      I just finished the third book of Martin’s series and you’re right, he finds his characters to be very expendable.

      I’m usually very reluctant to accept recommendations on books. I mean, I’d love to hear what you suggest, but it’s rare that I take people up on those suggestions. I’m just extremely picky when it comes to my taste in books. The smallest thing can turn me off from a book series forever (it almost happened in Wheel of Time, but ultimately I stuck with it). Then there’s also the fact that I have about…10 books waiting for me on my bookshelf. If I am ever ready for more recommendations, though, I will definitely be soliciting for them here. 😀

  5. skarbd says:

    No problem.

    I have read a lot of crap in my time and very few authors really float to the top any more.

    To be honest, from a fantasy point of view it’s mainly Steven Erikson and Malazan series that are really exceptional at the moment.

    There was of course David Gemmell from a heroic fantasy point of view – starting with Legend, of course.

    I understand the 10 books on the shelf. My shelf has a very large back log. The wife has asked me to stop buying books … which will happen when the sun doesn’t come up anymore.

  6. beibhinn says:

    Oh wow, I just read all the Hollows series. They’re so different and imersionable (is that a word?). You’ll love them and once you get a couple of books in, won’t want to read anything else 🙂

    If you ever want to rant and rave about the series, look me up – I’m always dying to chat about them 🙂

    Also, if you like that series, try the Kerrleyn Sparks series, and also Lara Adrian’s – you won’t be disappointed 🙂

  7. Darwinsfolly says:

    My uncle got me hooked on reading 3-4 books at once I’ll read a chapter or two of one then the next and so on I stick to Sci fi and fantasy. It just may be that I have multiple personalities and each one likes something different but, I rarly loose who is who in what and where.
    Also if you like the series by George R R Martin I strongly suggest his short story Sandkings.
    I also know the agony of waiting on his books as I have bought each in hardbound the week they come out.

  8. […] because I’ve been playing MMOs instead or doing other leisure activities like writing or reading.  The sniper update will be a great excuse to return to the game when it is finally released.  I […]

  9. Tim says:

    all those you just listed take up about 2 shelves of my book case, I love all of those.

    I read almost exclusively fantasy, and although its hard to beat the Hallows (go Jenks!!) Laurell K Hamilton’s books are very good (although there is a lot of sex), her Anita Blake starts off slow, but gets better after 2 books.

    Tad Williams Sorrow, Thorn and Memory. Some of the best stuff I have ever read so good my ex-wife kept them in the divorce!

    Terry Brooks, he has written some new books that weave all (almost i forgot he has the Landover stuff that isn’t) his books into one great big world, although you can’t read them in the order they were written (well you can but wish i could go back and do it ‘right’). He is very good what i would call classic, in the vein of the Hobbit.

    Robin Hobb, also very good, well the farseer stuff is, her newest offerings are odd, not bad, just odd. And female fantasy writers are rare.

    If you follow 38 pitches and there upcoming MMO, take some time to read R. A Salvatore’s Icewindale trilogy, yeah its not the first, but if you don’t read anything else, its some of his best stuff, and what almost all evil dark elves are from.

    Raymond E. Feist, his Riftwar stuff is very good, he has some really bad ones, aka Betrayal at Krondor ( the one that was a game that he wrote a book later).

    Twilight saga wasn’t bad either, I enjoyed her stuff too.

    All good stuff, anyway I know you take recommendations but maybe someone else will be looking for something good to read. 🙂

    I know I am gonna at least look at Kerrleyn Sparks and Lara Adrian’s, I am always on the look out for new people to read.

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