How many books do you read at once…

I am always asked this. And told the answer.

The answer ranges between one and fifty million.

I, myself, have ranged between one and fifty million. This is because I am surrounded by bookshelves at home. If I can’t find my current, I just pick up another. So, Edith Wharton in there, Margaret Atwood here, and Gerald Murnane on the windowsill because he was too difficult, and Helen Garner waiting because I look at her Yellow Notebook and feel happy. These authors speak to each other.

But when I was younger, they were simply all in my schoolbag.

Now, I allow one or two. Ancient Rome here, and Radclyffe Hall there, and Inga Clendinnen in the car, and Spike Milligan in my bag, and Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun right here, so that’s more than one or two. And Ayn Rand.

It was a child told me about one and fifty million. Said serenely, as if telling me the date.

Illustration by Pablo Auladell

8 thoughts on “How many books do you read at once…

  1. Definitely between one and fifty million! When we were at school my sister and I would bring home a stack of books each (as many as the library would allow) read them all then swap stacks. And go back in a fortnight to collect a new selection. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Three to five on the bedside table, and about the same on the coffee table. The latest acquisitions find temporary homes pretty much anywhere there’s space, and impatiently await their fate, vying for attention and arguing amongst one another about who should be read next.

    It’s always interesting to find out what people read, and I’d bet that we all check out other people’s bookshelves when we first visit their homes.

    Liked by 2 people

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