Bookmark: One book at a time? Many say yes

Oh, dear readers, I love how you affirm my nuttiness time after time. Many agreed with my recent column that suggests staggering books – reading more than one book at a time – is the way to go. Some of you, of course, disagreed, and that might be even more interesting.

Charles Holland of Austin, Minn., writes, “The table next to my recliner is always stacked with a couple dozen volumes and I usually am reading four to six. Family and friends can’t believe I could keep them straight. Actually, it’s quite simple – they are all very different. “

Sue Leaf (himself an author) calls himself a “promiscuous reader.” “In the daytime, I read one fiction and one non-fiction. But when I read just before bedtime, it has to be a gentle story.”

Many have different books going on different devices. “I always have at least one physical book, one e-book and one audiobook going,” he wrote Celesta Carlson of Raleigh, NC, and many echoed this plan. “The e-book is for the middle of the night reading so I won’t wake my husband, and the audio is for driving.”

But Skip Stovern of Prior Lake is a one-at-a-time guy. “I, for one, am not able to ‘stagger my books,’ so put me down as a member of the ‘total immersion in one book’ crowd,” he said. “But because I am a voracious reader, I try to do two things: I have my next book picked out and sitting in the bullpen, and I try to stagger the length of the books I read.”

He will follow a long book (currently “Liberty Is Sweet,” by Woody Holton – a slow read of 574 pages) with a shorter one (“Gichigami Hearts,” by his cousin Linda LeGarde Grover, 142 pages).

Dave Warford of Prior Lake feels the same. “I completely immersed myself in a single tale,” he said. “When finished with one, I base my next selection on variety or state of mind. My bucket list of books is ever growing, thus I always have options. So count me in the single-minded (I prefer ‘focused’) column. And at 80, I’m way too old to change my reading habits. “

Laura Ericksen of Edina likes to have two books going at once – something difficult, and something easy, the same way she does her needlework projects. Finding her next read is not a problem. “I have 628 books on my ‘For Later’ list at Hennepin County Library.”

Karen Brock of Myrtle Beach, SC, is pretty much the Original Staggerer. “Thank you for finally giving a name to what this lifelong reader has done for decades,” she said. “I have always ‘staggered’ from three to 10 books, lugging around a stack, even on vacation, until the invention of e-readers allowed me to carry my books in compact form.”

Charles Coulter of Raytown, Mo., has a simple explanation as to why he reads so many books at once (usually three to five). “I am weird,” he said. “I pick up the book that fits my mood of the moment.”

Peter Berk of Minneapolis would prefer to read one book at a time, “but being in three book clubs, I often have more than one going at a time.” (I see a solution to this, Peter.)

I wish I had room for more comments. I wish I had room to list the books you are reading. All I have room for is to thank you for your generosity and deep love of books, and for sharing those things here.

Laurie Hertzel is the senior editor for books at the Star Tribune. books@startribune.com

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