Let’s be clear, I don’t necessarily mean juggling in the literal sense, as in circus performer. Besides, that could be very dangerous especially if one is juggling hard cover books, or worse yet, dictionaries (… please do not try this at home!)
I mean juggling in terms of how many books can you have on the go at one time.
In the years before retirement, my head was already retaining so many intricate details from work – especially those annoying “strong passwords” that we had to change every few months. It would have been unthinkable to try to follow more than one story at a time.
I would just keep one book (considered “light reading”) on the nightstand and would plug away at it, a few pages at a time. It usually took three or four weeks to get through it, but that was all the time and headspace I could afford.
I look back and think that I probably should have turned off the TV and read more during my evenings, given how it always made me feel more centred and relaxed. But the reality is that after a full day of reading, writing or editing business materials, my eyes were tired and the poster children for moisturizing eye drops.
I recall a remarkable colleague who used to haul around a duffle bag full of books to work every day. What was always a source of amazement to me was that on his breaks and lunch time, he picked up whichever book happened to strike his fancy in the moment, and would savour a few pages in the time allotted. I truly envied his commitment to his books.
One of my colleagues often joked with him in referring to his duffle bag as the “bookmobile”, but it was probably no different than my “juke box” nap sack sometimes containing as many as a dozen cassette tapes for listening on my Walkman during my commute.
To this day, I still marvel at how many stories he could juggle at a given time.
But now, in retirement, it’s a different story for me… metaphorically and literally!
When performing research for the blog or for my screenwriting, I could have any number of reference books on the go. These are not necessarily for the purpose of reading cover to cover, but rather to “hummingbird” my way through them and gather ideas, pointers or validation of facts. I don’t really count those since there is really no storyline continuity needed there.
For the books that I do read cover to cover, for the pleasure of reading, there has been a steady progression.
In the first couple of months after retirement, I was binge reading a single book at a time, and often getting through it in as little as two days.
But as time went on, to appeal to my varied interests, I sometimes found myself juggling two books with little difficulty. Often the books were of different genres, one heavier topic and one lighter, but there was never much risk of cross-over or getting mixed up.
More recently, I find myself being able to have more books on the go, hitting the pause button on one book for a few days, devouring another, while returning to another story coming off the back burner.
In the absence of the multitude of details I needed to function at the office, the clarity and headspace in my mind has improved, leaving much more room to absorb and appreciate these three hundred page masterpieces.
The only downside to juggling several books is that it takes longer to reach the end and to place that book title in the “completed” column in my subconscious. Call it a check mark; call it a mental trophy; call it a sense of accomplishment.
For someone who has always been goal-oriented, I wonder if reading books one at a time is the more gratifying approach to getting through the library of books I have accumulated over the years… and which I continue to accumulate.
Either way, whether savouring them one at a time or several at a time, I feel my passion for reading has been reignited.
The pace at which I am burning through books (again, metaphorically speaking) is pure joy to me. Not only do I get to appreciate more works of art from a greater variety of artists, but I also feel a profound ripple effect of creative inspiration through the steady flow of new material to enjoy.
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Have a great day,