Each month I look over the books on my bookshelves and in my yearly Reading Pool and mentally create a list of possible texts for my attention. Generally I will put ten or twelve books on a low shelf in the front for easy access — these are the books I most want to read during the month. I expect to read at least two titles each week (with three as my goal) and as always, this reading list is only a suggestion to myself and usually goes by the wayside with only one visit to the local library.

I tend to have several books started at any one time — some for ease of carrying, some for a Yahoo Reading Group, some lost in the bottom of my gargantuan book bag. I also have several long, often academic, texts that I am reading gradually over my All-Bran in the morning.

As my old eyes grow weary (and teary) I have been collecting or exchanging most of my “books” for digital versions. But that doesn’t mean my bookshelves are empty: far from it! So I have a new pattern for reading that includes a digital reader (I, being an Apple user since they first came out with the original Apple ][, use an iPad and iPhone exclusively and when I get books for other readers I either convert them using Calibre or I just read them with the software based versions of the Nook, Kindle, or whatever). Also the Kindle app does support a speech function on the computer, I have avoided it in the past because it was so slow; however, I recently discovered that the Mac Accessibility/Speak function allows a much more flexible and satisfying experience.

I find that the combination of Caliber and Marvin 3 gives me maximum flexibility in my reading.

My new pattern is simple: I have a docking station in my library and my iPad stays there most of the day.  I split the screen to use Marvin 3 for reading and to have Mail or Twitter in the small slice alongside Marvin. Lately, however, I have been seeing Twitter as a mere time-waster and will probably remove it from my system one day. I also have a large number of titles on my new iPhone 11 Pro Max. This allows me to always have a good selection of reading with me when I leave home; I also use the iPhone for my bedtime reading and to control soft background music and my Old Time radio stories as I drift off to sleep each night. Oh, the camera is great but I seldom use it.

I have books of short stories in the bathrooms and some serious ink and paper reading in my office. Whenever I go out for any length of time (especially if stopping for a coffee is a part of the deal) I tend to take just my iPhone or iPad and a recharger in a convenient case which protects it all, hangs neatly from my shoulder, and does’t wear me down (oh, the memories of those old packing crate sized computer bags).

The idea is to have a real book going at the same time as a couple of digital books. I find I use the iPad and iBooks for those titles I need to purchase and the iPad and Marvin for those titles that are available on the Internet, like at Project Gutenberg. At the same time I still try to balance my reading: a big fat one vs. a slim volume of poetry, a breezy contemporary novel vs. a dusty old classic with lots of footnotes, a transgressive fantasy vs. a work-a-day urban tragedy; a drama vs. an essay collection … you get the idea.

Reading can absorb your entire day or just be gulped in snatches as you run around the house doing chores. By making up yearly and monthly reading lists I bring a small amount of structure to my reading. But I’m not strict with myself and as I often say, one trip to the library can destroy the best made plans. On the other hand, I have been criticized because I plan in advance what I might be reading soon rather than just relying on inspiration whenever I need a new book. That sounds nice but I don’t suspect it is a good way to maintain variety in your reading. I can see myself going on a tear reading everything by Henry James until I’m sick of reading Henry James. I prefer scheduling a few of James’s novels over the year and being open to change my mind if another of his novels catches my eye.

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