“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. Cultivating a Fuji, edition 3, a poignant, humorous and uplifting tale, published with Ocelot Press, January 2023.

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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