Battle of the books

a woman smokes a cigarette while reading the paper
Longing for one story
while reading another.

I am currently reading two books.

Actually, that’s not quite right. I’m currently obsessed with two particular books. And I’m cheatingĀ on one.

I thought about disclosing what they are, but I wouldn’t like to bias your opinion for one combatant over the other. Both books have strangely connecting themes. Both are written by authors with the first name ‘Miranda’. (I may have already said too much.)

Both books are good reads. They’re both weird and both make me feel slightly uncomfortable, but in very different ways. When I wake up I think ‘I can’t wait to read that book by Miranda’. This thought is immediately followed by several minutes of guilt over who might win the competition for first read of the day.

How did all this happen? Why are these Mirandas in such fierce competition. What can I do to avoid it all again?

Not much. Not unless I can somehow remove deadlines from my existence, especially any to do with reading.

We’ve all experienced the battle of the books at one time or another. A book might need to be read in time for a book club discussion. Another could be an overdue library book, delicately nibbling at your conscience and your bank account in the form of overdue fees. Or maybe it’s a treasured loan from a good friend, and its continued presence in your house almost ensures an ending of coffee-stained proportions.

I’ve been through all of it. And more. The root cause of the problem is not that first, sweet, innocent book. It is always another book. One that is too damn good to put down. It’s suave. It’s appealing. It is the ‘other’ book.

It is the book that forces you to read at every opportunity. A minute in the lift? Read. Is that a red don’t walk signal flashing before you? Read. You read as you walk, as you eat and, yes, if you could, you’d do it in the shower. This unstoppable, delectable, almost-edible book is forcing you to cheat on your main read. And, time to admit it now, you’re loving it.

The terrible guilt-ridden shame of it all.

There’s no choice. You can never put down a ‘can’t put it down’ book. It has to be read. Fines, stains, guilt complexes and disapproving looks be damned. The ‘other’ book always wins.

In that sense, this current battle of the books is no different to any other. Except that usually, when the battle is on, one book is pulling ahead. Not this time. They are equally intriguing. I know I should just put down my-deadline free book and read what I’m meant to be reading. But, I’m not. It’s the same problem, no matter how I try to deny it.

I’ve tried keeping them at separate ends of the house. Making one a bedtime only book. Taking only the deadline-Miranda on the train with me. It doesn’t help. A good book calls to you. It must be read. There’s no logic to it. It’s why deadlines and reading for pleasure can never be friends.

Yes. I am, truly, reading two books. As and when I see fit. And loving it.

(Please don’t let either of them know, okay?)

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *