Yes…You Can Live at this Speed!

The Great Bergstrom Debate: Should one read multiple books at the same time?


So as you heard in her post “Ahh…Johnny Tremain“, poor Haddi is finding it necessary to stre——tch herself by beginning to listen to books all in an effort to keep up with me.  It is such a trial, I am sure and I almost feel sorry for her…almost.  Here’s the thing, I know some people just can’t figure out how someone can read more than one book at a time.  It’s a semi-fair question but really?!  I hear this befuddled inquiry in the same line of people responding to bilingualism like, “Two languages! Good God, two languages in one head, no one can live at that speed!” curtesy of Eddie Izzard.

If you need a laugh today, and who doesn’t, I totally recommend taking 3 minutes to watch him below…you will not be disappointed.  This quote comes around 1:50 and be warned he uses colorful language ;).

But back to books, yes people like me DO READ MORE THAN ONE BOOK AT A TIME and still somehow manage to engage and enjoy all the stories and information. Now for me, I am usually a, no more than 3-4 books at any given time, kindof girl.  Usually one fiction, one non-fiction, a book for work and then something on Audible.  Often these will overlap to just two books at a time, but I enjoy having options and I absolutely LOVE IT when books collide and inform each other.

For example: as you know I just finished Artemis, a story about a city on the moon.  One of the more subtle but informative aspects of this story was the economic arch of that city.  Now I know very little about economics but the “founder” of Artemis was an economist (I am pretty sure), so at the end of the novel as she and Jazz are talking through what will happen in Artemis’ future they refer to economic life-cycles.  Now when I read this I took it at face value assuming Weir knew more than me about economics…cause he did…but THEN I started listening to “A Word of Three Zeros” by Muhammad Yunnus!  Now people, THIS.  THIS is why I love reading books at the same time because Yunnus is basically pulling the rug out from under all our assumptions about the neo-classical notions of economics (yeah, I know those words now) that revolve around “capitalist man,” whose highest virtue is personal accumulation and an “indifference” to all others.

So now, in the midst of a new economic framework, I find myself wanting to do one of two things:

  1. Send a letter to Andy Weir and tell him to read this book by Yunnus and him he really missed a chance to dream big
  2. Reread Artemis with this new information and pick apart how Weir continues to perpetuate an economic understanding of humanity that is destined to create poverty
  3. Make Leonel read both books and then imagine together how Artemis‘ story arch would shift based on Yunnus’ new economic structure (yeah Leonel loves it when I do this :p)

Oh and by the way, just to keep the connections going…Yunnus is Bangladeshi which is beautiful because so is the female protagonist of Brick Lane, which I just started, and so now I am hearing the history, culture and experience of Bangladesh of the last 50 years through the eyes of a real life economist fighting to change a system that Nazeen escaped through a marriage which took her to England.

The point being folks, this is why I love reading, because as Haddi said in her last post, it can break down our assumptions and spark our imagination and perspectives. It has the power to challenge our core understandings of humanity and the universe making us fuller and more actualized individuals and thus communities.

It can be such a beautiful thing reading multiple books at a time! You just never know how they might connect.  So give it a go, join Haddi in stretching yourself and picking up a second book. I am confident you CAN live at this speed and anyway, what’s the worst that can happen?