Simultaneous novel reading

Before e-books, I always made a point to finish a novel before starting the next. Rarely I would abandon a book half read, but generally pride made me finish them all, and I was often rewarded with a satisfying ending to an otherwise slow moving book. Now, in this digital age, and a bit of a gadget geek, I have a New IPad, a Samsung Galaxy SII, and ipod touch, all of which have a Kindle app, and now I have bought an actual Kindle. Further, I use my car journey to work to listen to audiobooks. This now means I have several books on the go at once, read/listened to in different environments. So I have recently worked my way through the outstanding Richard North Patterson books on audiobooks, and am in the middle of Conn Iggulden’s Conqueror series in the same format. I have read all of Harry Sidebottom’s Warrior of Rome Series on my Ipad, after which I started SJA Turney’s first Marius’ Mules book on the ipad, and have just transferred this to the kindle. I’m reading Petronius’ Satryicon on the ipod touch. I have decided I will read all 10 books of Steven Erikson’s immense series, the Malazan Book of the Fallen, which must amount to nearly 5million words (10 volumes each of around 1000 pages each!), purely on my phone – I am currently halfway through book four, House of Chains. But what of paperbacks you cry? 3/4 way through Ben Kane’s Forgotten Legion – review to come here soon, and am also enjoying sharing Caroline Lawrence’s children’s Roman fiction books with Roman Fiction minor at bedtime.
So what are the pros and cons of simultaneous novel reading. The cons are that it takes a lot more time to finish an individual book. But I feel the pros outweigh this. I have a huge backlog of books I want to read, and am discovering more all the time. Time in a busy life to sit down with a paperback is limited. But time in the car listening to the adventures of Ballista is time much better spent that listening to an inane DJ or an ill-informed caller on Five Live. Time standing outside a shoe shop waiting for the other half, Romana Fictiona, or while waiting for Roman Fiction Minor’s swimming lessons to finish can be spent reading on the phone. Overall, I get through a lot more reading than in the days of paperbacks alone. Do I get confused, holding so many narratives in my head at once? No more so than watching ongoing series on TV – I can cope with watching the Sopranos on DVD, Homeland on TV and House on SkyPlus without wondering when Tony Soprano is going to cure the Al Qaeda double agent’s obscure illness. I did have a moment this morning though, as Caesar began his campaigns in Gaul in Marius’ Mules

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