Time, they say, is what prevents everything from happening at once. I’ve noticed something about my reading life (is there any other kind of life?). One of my favorite topics on this blog is books. Both reading and writing them. When I wake up and try to clear the cobwebs of sleep from my head to think about the day’s post, I always feel relieved when I have a book I’ve just finished because that’s an eager and ready topic. When I’m in the middle of a large book, it seems like a long time until I’ll be able to jot down some thoughts on it, and the ideas don’t always flow. It’s here that I’ve noticed a strange kind of pattern and it has to do with the way I read. Interestingly, it isn’t intentional. It goes back to my post-commuting literary lifestyle.
I read nonfiction in the mornings. I awake early and after about an hour of writing I try to get in an hour of reading before thoughts turn to work and its unraveling effect on the fabric I’ve been weaving before the sun rises. The nonfiction I read depends, to a large extent, on my writing projects. Not exactly the kind of research that time and libraries afford academics, but still, research in my own way. Often these nonfiction books are large—400 pagers seem to be the trend. I’m a slow reader, so they take some weeks to finish. At night (or actually evening, for I retire early) I read fiction. It isn’t unusual for my fiction choices to be briefer than the nonfiction books of the morning. It always seems, however, that I finish two books very near the same time. Then I have two book posts in a week and many days without any.
Since we married over thirty years ago, my wife and I read to each other. Usually she reads while I wash dishes. Those reading choices are by mutual consent. They sometimes make their way into my research, but more often they show up in my fiction writing. In any case, they also seem to fit this same pattern. When I finish a large nonfiction book in the morning, the same day, or the next day, I generally finish my fiction book. Shortly after that our dishes-reading book finishes. I’ve noticed this happening over the past couple of years and I always wonder about unexpected patterns that I find. It doesn’t always happen this way, but it does often enough to make me wonder. If I intentionally set out to do this it would be understandable, but as it is, it simply happens. As they say, things tend to occur in threes.