The Right Second (or Third) Book

Normally, I have two books going at any given time: the main book I’m reading and a book of poetry. The system works pretty good because if the main book gets a little too heavy or if a change-up is in order, I hop over and read a couple poems.

But what happens when both books get a little too heavy? I hit that point over the weekend.

My main read at the moment is Van Gogh: The Life – a recommendation I’ve taken from Austin Kleon. It’s engaging, it’s thorough, it’s entertaining … and it also happens to be full of so much detail that it’s been taking a long time to work my way through this 800+ page tome. Time to swap, right?

My poetry book has been Imagoes by Wanda Coleman. I was totally unfamiliar with her work and picked it up on a whim at a used bookstore. It’s really good, but not exactly light reading. Far from it. I need time after each poem, which means it’s not really that much of a break.

So I added a third book to the rotation. And it made a huge difference.

Personally, I believe that if you have trouble reading, it has a lot to do with the books you’re trying to read (or avoid). If you’re not a natural reader, there’s a certain amount of searching to find what grabs you and then some priming of the pump before the pages start flying. Finding the right combination of books is along the same lines.

My goal was to find an easy read that wouldn’t make me think much, would be enjoyable, and a legit break from both of the other books. Since I’m a geek, I went with Heir To The Empire by Timothy Zahn – from the Star Wars extended universe. It totally did the trick. I breezed through 150 pages in one day solely because I was happy to be reading something different. It didn’t hurt that I could hear the voice of all the characters (this book takes place right after the OG trilogy so there’s plenty of Luke and the gang).

Trouble reading? My advice is more books, not less.

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