Finding good books to read when you’re an editor is difficult. You read with a pencil mentally in hand, fixing and rewriting as you read, and wondering was it the author or the editor who made that egregious error.
After thirty years in the publishing business, though, I’ve learned how to give my mental editor some free space. She might notice words, sentences, paragraphs, entire scenes that need work, but if the overall book is good, I let it go. Of course, I have read books that are so wonderful, my mental editor simply gazes in awe. For an example, read Consequences by Penelope Lively.
I am always reading something, and usually I read one book at a time. But then a friend or a student will hand me a book, saying that I have to read it because it is so good or because he or she wants my opinion. If the book intrigues me, I’ll halt reading my current book and start the new one. Other times, I’ll set a book aside for one reason or another, leaving it on my nightstand to be picked up again later. Such has been the case the past several weeks, and so I have three books on my nightstand right now. First, If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino. Recommended by a student and an absolutely fascinating read, but not a good vacation book. So I set it aside before going away for a week, opting instead for Tana French’s Faithful Place. Also a good read–French writes amazing dialogue–but I’ve read one of her books before and I know she does not do happy endings. When I was fifty pages from the end, there was a sudden death in my family. I had to stop reading Faithful Place.
So I have chosen “comfort reading” for right now–one of Dorothy L. Sayers’s Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, Clouds of Witness. An odd collection, to be sure, on my nightstand.
How about you? Are you a one-book-only kind of reader, or do you flit about? And what makes you put a book down?