Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Two-for-One Tuesday Intros

I don't usually do this. One book at a time is my rule - physical book, that is. Audiobooks are different. I have no problem with two audios on the go, since each has its own place - one in the car and another on my iPod. Over the years I've experimented with reading two and three books at once. Selections typically included one fiction and one nonfiction title, plus a classic or long-term read. The trouble began when one book really captured my attention and I read it exclusively. In my mind it became the 'winner', and the 'losers' were left to languish on my nightstand. Clearly the other books weren't exactly losers, but I had a hard time getting back to the growing pile on the nightstand. Reading monogamy seemed to be the answer.

Fast forward two years....

"They were young, educated, and both virgins on this, their wedding night, and they lived in a time when a conversation about sexual difficulties was plainly impossible. But it is never easy. They had just sat down to supper in a tiny sitting room on the first floor of a Georgian inn. In the next room, visible through the open door, was a four-poster bed, rather narrow, whose bedcover was pure white and stretched startlingly smooth, as though by no human hand. Edward did not mention that he had never stayed in a hotel before, whereas Florence, after many trips as a child with her father, was an old hand. Superficially, they were in fine spirits. Their wedding, at St. Mary's, Oxford, had gone well; the service was decorous, the reception jolly, the send-off from school and college friends raucous and uplifting. Her parents had not condescended to his, as they had feared, and his mother had not significantly misbehaved, or completely forgotten the purpose of the occasion. The couple had driven away in a small car belonging to Florence's mother and arrived in the early evening at their hotel on the Dorset coast in weather that was not perfect for mid-July or the circumstances, but entirely adequate: it was not raining, but nor was it quite warm enough, according to Florence, to eat outside on the terrace as they had hoped. Edward thought it was, but, polite to a fault, he would not think of contradicting her on such an evening."
On Chesil Beach
by Ian McEwan

I started On Chesil Beach a few days ago. After fifty pages of beautiful writing and engaging characters, my mind began to wander. Last night, I allowed myself to start Her Fearful Symmetry too. Halloween week seems like the perfect time to read it!

"Elspeth died while Robert was standing in front of a vending machine watching tea shoot into a small plastic cup. Later he would remember walking down the hospital corridor with the cup of horrible tea in his hand, alone under the fluorescent lights, retracing his steps to the room where Elspeth lay surrounded by machines. She had turned her head toward the door and her eyes were open; at first Robert thought she was conscious. 
In the seconds before she died, Elspeth remembered a day last spring when she and Robert had walked along a muddy path by the Thames in Kew Gardens. There was a smell of rotted leaves; it had been raining. Robert said, "We should have had kids," and Elspeth replied, "Don't be silly, sweet." She said it out loud, in the hospital room, but Robert wasn't there to hear."

Her Fearful Symmetry
by Audrey Niffenegger

Do either of these first paragraphs appeal to you? I'm also wondering, if you read more than one book at a time, how you keep one title from 'winning'?
Tuesday Intros is hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea.


  1. I usually read books as and when they came thus, I read on a first come first read basis. However, when I read the first line of On Chesil Beach I knew this is a book that would jump the queue. I picked it up two books later and finished it some days ago. (Review is scheduled for Nov.)

    I don't read more than a book at a time. It will drag. The time available for reading itself isn't sufficient, dividing it further will mean extending the reading days and losing interest along the way.

    I must also say that Niffenegger's first paragraph also attracts. The image is catching and I am forced to search further for what happened to Robert or how Elspeth died.

  2. I can't read more than one book at a time either, so I have no solutions for you! Her Fearful Symmetry is such a creepy, gothic read for Halloween. On Chesil Beach has been on my TBR pile for YEARS.

  3. I bounce around with reading a few books at a time, or just one book. It depends on where my head is at the time! Her Fearful Symmetry is a book I meant to read before Halloween, but I got swept up in other books. I need to get back on it!

  4. I often read about four books at once. I find that out of four, two will usually dominate and become my "at work" or "at home" books whereas the rest fill in the gaps.

    It used to be difficult for me to do this but now, it's normal for me and I feel antsy if I only have one book going.

  5. "Her Fearful Symmetry" sounds quite interesting from what you've shared. I would read on.

    New blog follower and new Tuesday Intros hopper!

  6. I'm not into monogamy when it comes to reading. :-) But when reading multiple books, I usually have different kinds of books going for different moods. Right now I'm reading a nonfiction book about Scandinavians in Minnesota (no, really, it's very entertaining), a YA book, and a creepy collection of stories by Angela Carter.

  7. I am a strict reading monogamist, otherwise I get nothing finished! I agree with Nana, if I read more than one thing at once it starts to drag and I lose interest.

    On Chesil Beach is a wonderfully perceptive novel. I hope you enjoy the rest of it.

  8. I enjoyed both of these books; the McEwan more than the other but both are extremely provocative.

  9. I used to be a monogamous reader, but blogging kind of ruined that. Both opening paragraphs really appeal to me. I've read and enjoyed Her Fearful Symmetry and have the McEwan on my tbr pile.

  10. The Ian McEwan definitely appeals to me. I'd keep going with that one. Her Fearful Symmetry seems so sad but I'd probably read the summary of the story before going on. Maybe it's not totally sad.

    You gave an interesting reason for not reading more than one book at a time. I've never looked at it that way and maybe now I will. Oh dear, I'm not sure I want winner and losers.

    My First Paragraph is over at Quirky Girls Read

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  12. I have about five books going right now. And I never worry about letting one win out over any other. In fact that is the part I like, when one book won't let me get back to the others until I finish it. I have read both of these books and liked them both for different reasons. OCB is my favorite McEwan book by far and even one of my favorite books of all time. AFS I liked mainly because it is so not a book I would ever pick up, but I did and enjoyed it immensely.

  13. Oooh, two really good books. Chesil Beach is so heartbreaking, but also very good. And I read Symmetry BEFORE Time Traveler's Wife, so I actually enjoyed it more than most. Very creepy.

  14. I actually like both intros. I've read the 2nd one and liked it a lot. On Chesil Beach is on my iPod. I'll be curious to see what you think.

  15. Nana Fredua-Agyeman - Will look forward to review of On Chesil Beach. I just love the writing in that book! I want to concentrate on it when I am undistracted, so will give the more plot-driven novel my attention for the next few days.

    Reviewsbyloa - I figured that if I didn't read Her Fearful Symmetry now, I never will.

    Natalie - Seems like I've gotten used to one book at a time, so it's strange to have bookmarks in two at the moment.

    Ti - Four books?? I am totally in awe...

    Ruthi - Welcome to Tuesday Intros. I look forward to reading your posts!

    Amy - Scandinavians in Minnesota?! If you say it's entertaining, I'll believe you... but inside I'm chucking, just a little. That's like reading about Italians around here :-)

    Sam - Finishing nothing is my biggest fear with multiple reads. I am actually in awe of On Chesi Beach.. will take a brief Halloween break for Her Fearful Symmetry and get right back to it.

    Care- I think both books serve different purposes. Will enjoy HFS in the spirit of Halloween for now.

    Nymeth - I never even considered reading more than one book at a time until I started blogging. Not sure if that's a good thing...

    Margot - I hope I haven't given you a reason NOT to read multiple books... that's just how things strike me.

    Thomas - That's pretty much how I feel. If I don't read HFS right now, I may never pick it up again. But OCB is amazing, and I want to savor every paragraph.

    Sandy - Yes, they are both so good! I think I'll concentrate on Her Fearful Symmetry for now, but can;t wait to get back to On Chesil Beach.

    Diane - Since it's close to Halloween, I'll stick with Her Fearful Symmetry... but will definitely return to On Chesil Beach.

  16. I could not get into On Chesil Beach. I recognized that the writing was lovely but those characters made me so mad I just wanted to throw the book across the room!

  17. Lisa - LOL! I can just see it... Will get back to On Chesil Beach soon, but have decided to concentrate on Her Fearful Symmetry for a few days.

  18. You've certainly piqued my interest with both passages! I loved McEwan's Atonement and enjoyed Saturday, but have not yet read On Chesil Beach. Must remedy that!

    I generally read one book at a time, although I listen to another on my Nano for a couple of hours a day. However, just yesterday as a matter of fact, I picked up 1Q84 (Haruki Murakami) and read 2 chapters during my lunch hour. I came home and read The Little Stranger (Donna Tartt) before I went to sleep last night. Both have grabbed my interest from the get-go. What to do now?!

  19. Both of these opening paragraphs capture my attention although On Chesil Beach interests me more!

    I tend to read more than one title at a time because I'm very much a 'mood' reader...sometimes I'm in the mood for something light and entertaining or something I can learn from or something suspenseful etc.
    I don't often have problems with one book winning or losing but it has happened...when it does I usually put the 'losing' book aside for a period of time and go back to it later. I guess because my mood tends to dictate what I read, I don't usually see books as winning or losing but more as not coalescing with my mood at a given time.

  20. Les - Her Fearful Symmetry has 'won'. It seems perfect for the season. I've only read McEwan's Atonement, but am slowly collecting his other novels. Will get back to On Chesil Beach once HFS is finished... guess I really am a one book at a time reader. Will be curious to see what you decide with 1Q84 and The Little Stranger( both on my to read list).

    Amy - That seem like such a good way to think about it! I think reading slumps happen when my mood doesn't match my current book... it would make more sense to put it aside temporarily and pick up something else that suits.


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