I used to be able to tell how stressed out I was by how many books I had open at once.
I’ve always got at least one book going. That’s what I do. I’m the sort of person who will read the ingredients list on cereal boxes if there is nothing else around, so I’ve learned to have a book with me at all times. Sometimes two. And depending on how irksome the world was being at any given point, occasionally more.
Once I got up to nine.
I try to keep myself to just one at a time now, since there is always a bit of re-entry shock when I switch from book to book and the whole point of all this is to minimize that sort of thing. I get enough re-entry shock just from waking up these days. I don’t need to add to that.
Instead, I end up immersing myself into other worlds, reading entire series of books (in order, because that’s how I roll) or focusing on one specific television series. I end up living in that mental space for a while, and it’s a respite from the rest of reality.
It’s surprising how many other worlds there are out there that seem more appealing than this one.
I spent about six months over the past year reading all of the Discworld series, for example. Pratchett’s world is both weirder and more humane than ours, and it’s nice to know that both of those things are possible. Given the heartlessness paraded as principle in our politics these days it is refreshing to think that there might be a place where such a position is treated with the anger and contempt it so richly deserves.
We’re nearly done with the rebooted Doctor Who series as well. We started this as a family project back in March, beginning with the Ninth Doctor and Rose, and slightly over a hundred episodes and specials later we have only one more episode to go before we are completely current with the series. No more spoilers on the internet! Oddly enough, the Doctor’s world is also both weirder and more humane than the one we live in now. Perhaps there is a theme here.
Now I’m seven books into Jacqueline Carey’s D’Angeline series – another richly imagined world just a bit skewed off from our own. They’re fascinating books, even if the number of people I would recommend read them is rather more limited than the number of people to whom I’d recommend Pratchett or Doctor Who. They’re weirder in different ways, some of which you just have to slog through to get to the rest of it. But I’m enjoying them immensely.
All those worlds, and more.
They’re nice places to visit.