“Multi-tasking” is a word that originated from the computer world. As I have belonged to that world for a long time, I probably knew it before it became common parlance. In that sense, it doesn’t really mean that a computer performs several tasks at once. It means that the computer performs one task at a time, but can hop between the tasks so quickly that it appears to us to perform them simultaneously.

Do humans multi-task in the same way, or do we really have the ability to do more than one thing at a time? I think the answer is the latter – up to a point. If women are considered to be better at multi-tasking than men, why am I so bad at it? I think that’s because I’m too busy thinking about what other people think of me. I multi-task even before I try to do something else as well.

Anyway, that was just a preamble to telling you that I’ve been reading two books at once – in the computer sense, that is. A chapter from here and a chapter from there.

One of the books was The Dark Threads by Jean Davison, about the true and awful years during which the author was misdiagnosed as being mentally ill. I was very moved by this story and might devote another post to it.

The other was a pocket novel. Pocket novels are (or have been up to now) romances with happy endings. They enable readers to escape from the real world and lose themselves in a world where everything comes right in the end.

The two books couldn’t be more different and complemented each other perfectly. I was able to escape from a real and frightening world whenever I wanted to.

I remember school teachers telling us not to start reading a book before finishing the previous one. I can’t remember why. Perhaps they thought the first book would probably remain unfinished.

Do you multi-read?

By Miriam Drori

Author, editor, attempter of this thing called life. Social anxiety warrior. Style and the Solitary, edition 2, murder mystery set in Jerusalem, published with Ocelot Press, October 2022.

11 replies on “Multi-tasking”

Thanks for the mention. I don’t think I’ve ever read two books at once, though I do sometimes read an article or short story when I’ve got a book on the go. It’s interesting to think of which activities lend themselves well to multi-tasking. From a writing point of view, I simply can’t imagine writing two book manuscripts at once, hopping from one to the other. I must be able to switch (as I’ve ended up with four unfinished novel manuscripts!) but switching back is hard. I can multi-write with shorter pieces if I have to.

Do I multi-read? Oh, yes all the time!! Even when a book seizes me and won’t let me stop till I finish it, there are generally two or three others that I’ve already started, waiting to get my attention back from the intruder.

And you’re right – mixing genres works really well. Come to think of it, I don’t think I usually read two books of the same type at the same time. Never noticed that before.

Yes, I multi-read. I have one “serious” and one “not-so-serious” book on the go most of the time. The “serious” one may be non-fiction or fiction I feel I should read and the “not-so-serious” will be something to relax with.
I do not get as much reading time as I would like though so I have been known to “rough read” (i.e. skim the pages) of some books to the end rather than read them thoroughly. That is probably worse than “multi-tasking”!

I usually try not to multi-read but am tempted to read The Dark Threads alongside the book I’m reading at the moment as it sounds so fascinating. I hope you will write more about it.

Originally posted by buttonsdad:I think I can multi-task pretty well – I can drink a beer, smoke a cigarette and ignore stupid posts in this forum. Of course it’s all done on a time sharing basis, just like a computer.

I read multiple books because a lot of the time, they don’t hold my interest. So I switch from one to another and plow through them so that I can review them on my goodreads page. I figure a lot of authors are out there like me, creating books which might not be getting any love, and it’s my duty to do what I can to shower a little attention here and there.

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