Although I have often had to switch among many books and other reading material while in school, and the same can be said for my current 9-5 work, when it comes to reading for leisure, I am a monogamist. I realized this only recently, after many years spent pretending to enjoy rotating among several books at a time. Inevitably, at least two of the books on rotation always ended up sitting on my nightstand for much too long, sadly neglected.
Given that I have committed to a practice of Presence, it’s time for me to be honest with myself about my habits.
I feel at ease when I dedicate my full attention to one person at any one time. This is why I prefer to spend time on-on-one with a close friend, rather than a group of people.
This statement is equally true not only of my reading habits but also of my other favourite interests. I don’t enjoy working on multiple knitting or needlework projects at a time because I inevitably fall deeply in love with one particular project, for myriad reasons. I can’t help but feel sneaky guilt over having given up on the other project, which I know I enjoy but evidently not as much as the project that I’m holding in my hands at the given moment. Perhaps the only area in which I enjoy change and variation is my workout routine and yoga practice, which continue to evolve and keep me curious.
I am aware of scientific research that concludes that true multitasking is not possible. Yet, it is a demand – or at least our interpretation of what is being asked and expected from us – that most of us experience on a daily basis, whether at work or at home with our families. We always have multiple running tasks on our list, whether that list is written on paper or running through our minds. When it comes to reading at leisure, I don’t want to have to think about a different book to which I need to dedicate some attention. I want to thoroughly enjoy the weight of the volume in my hands, the smell of the print, and the words on the current page. I get lost in the magic of the ritual of reading, and even if the book to which I’m currently devoted is not a favourite of mine, I refuse to allow this moment to be spoiled by thoughts of other books. I’m in, for better or for worse, even if it means I do sometimes give in to the pressures of time and attention by skimming through certain parts that are either not very exciting or disturb my peace in some way. After all, Presence is also about discernment.
Are you a monogamous reader or do you enjoy multitasking, switching among many books? Please leave a comment below to contribute to the discussion.