The virtues of reading two books at once…almost.


Currently reading: The Breathing Method: A Winter’s Tale by Stephen King.

Also currently reading: The Good, the Bad and Me: In my Anecdotage by Eli Wallach.


Recently, I have been reading Stephen King’s Different Season’s and really enjoying it. I always wonder though, with every book I read, what book I should read next to keep the enjoyment going. Usually, I wing it but recently I have started to plan ahead when I was coming to the end of The Body (Stand by Me) and starting the last story of Different Seasons. I thought, why not read two books at once? I have never done that before. Let’s see how this goes, shall we…

Well, actually, I have tried two books at once before but it didn’t work very well. I just ended up focusing on one book and forgetting about the other. I would always have to go back to the beginning of book two when one was finished. This time though, I have the ten minutes or so before my second train departs to take me to work and the twenty minutes on the train that allows me to read one book in a fair amount of peace. Beforehand, the bus or tram had mostly been my method of travel. Or walking. Each with plenty of things to stop me from reading (mainly concentrating on the road and other people. Laaaaame.) But waiting and travel with plenty of space available has helped my cause.

I thought of many books that could be my second book. As I did this, I began to hear something. What do I hear? What is that noise? Thousands of little voices but from where? I follow the sounds and they get louder and clearer as I approach my lovely bookshelves. All the books and their characters giving me their own reason why I should read them instead or as well as my current book. They say “Kindle is killing books, you smell lovely, you should be worried as you’re hearing voices from books”, and so on. I looked around and saw one book I’d been looking forward to reading since Christmas. Eli Wallach’s biography The Good, the Bad, and Me. He played The Ugly (Tuco Benedicto Pacífico Juan María Ramírez aka “The Rat”) in my favourite film of all time so naturally, I wanted to read it. And so, I now have one book for home and one for travel.

I’ve found it very useful and enlightening for my own writing to read two different authors and their very different styles. Each I enjoy and each is pushing me to make mental notes to use in my own writing. Stephen King (for obvious reasons) and Eli Wallach for his straightforward and unflinching account of his life. Most of the notes lean towards helping me to describe effectively and to try and make the reader feel what I want them to feel for a particular scene.

I’m also reading fast and racing through my books. But what of the next two books? Oh no. I hear the voices again…

Before you go. Quick question, if you do read two books at once, are they similar? Or different? And for either answer, why?

Thanks for reading. Have a good rest of the week!