Too Many Books Piled Around The House?

I just came across a piece by Joe Queenan in the New York Times on the reason he reads 25 books at a time.

I suffer from this delightful malady as well … Kris will attest by pointing out the piles of books stacked around the house. I maintain that by having them stacked in different rooms and in different orders, I am organizing them to trigger picking them up at just the right time for finishing the next chapter, couple of chapters, or the book itself. I just finished rereading Walker Percy’s Love in the Ruins. The book, a meaty one with plenty to think about, had to rotate from the kitchen to the downstairs living room to the upstairs sitting in order to be completed, while light reading such as A Year In The Merde only needed a week-long stay on the hassock in the living room before it was done. Harold Bloom’s Shakespeare and the Invention of the Human has been circling the house for years….

Queenan writes: "Friends say that I suffer from a short attention span, but exactly the opposite is true. I do not stop reading books because I lose interest in them; if anything, I have too long an attention span, one that allows me to read dozens of books simultaneously without losing interest in any of them. Moreover, I have an excellent memory that allows me to suspend reading, pick up a book six months later, and not miss a beat. A chess player once told me that a good memory is a cheap trick that creates a deceptive aura of intelligence around an otherwise ordinary intellect. This is true."

I concur. I think I do have a fairly long attention span (some might say obsessive), and a pretty good memory and this certainly facilitates reading multiple books at the same time. And that memory could lead some folks to make inflated and erroneous assumptions about this fairly ordinary intellect. The two (reading many books at once and being unusually intelligent) aren’t necessarily related. But don’t tell anyone.

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