I decided to gather all my reading material from all the places I stash books - by both my beds, in the car, in the kitchen, in the living room, and even I was a bit stunned! I hadn't realized I had THIS many on the go!
I read several books at once. There are a number of reasons for this.
First, to suit my mood - sometimes I want to be challenged by something a little more philosophical, to inspire my thoughts, while at other times I just want to switch my brain off (hello People magazine). Second, while I have the attention span when I'm fresh to take in the information overload in books like "Hold on to Your Kids" or "Cradle of God", when I'm tired, I need a story that just falls off the pages of the book, like Stephen King or chick-lit. Third, I have a wide range of interests, but I'm not gung-ho enough about any of them to want to be caught up in that world 24/7. So while I'm interested in the idea of turning my house into a mini-Montessori kindergarten (easier than you think) I don't want to read about it every day. I'm a Renaissance Soul. Finally, it's good to have on-call books lying about the place just in case you get caught out there with nothing to do. So there's a book on the seat of the car, one in my handbag, in the kitchen, used to be one in the toilet, but there isn't right now, in the living room for late-night reading, and as I said, by both beds (the double bed in 'my' room has the big picture book as I can read in the full light in there, while the futon in the kids' room has the novel with a small book-light).
They are, clockwise from top left:
Digital camera how-to book, dipped into every now and then for tips and advice, none of which seems to stick much.
Hardcover big pretty picture books: I like diving into a visual feast like these books! Rolling Stone history of Rock 'n' Roll, African Jewellery and Japanese Calligraphy are on the menu at the moment. In back is the stupendously large and beautifully illustrated book about fashion over the last 3 centuries which is truly a pleasure to open up and browse through. This book has a bit of a story - I saw it first in a bookstore in Fukuoka two years ago, but felt I couldn't afford it. Then when I went back to the same bookstore this January, and it was still there, marked down a little, I felt it was fate that I should have it! Actually the 8000 yen price is pretty reasonable for a book this size - it's actually two volumes in a case.
The next bunch are my on-the-go and out-and-about selection. At the bottom is a Japanese history comic I bought, my attempt at studying Japanese! Then the Philosophy book, "50 Philosophy Ideas"; a book of essays about self-transformation called "Women Re-invented" to which a friend of mine contributed; "Chicken Soup for the Teacher's Soul", some very heart-warming teaching stories that I keep in my work bag and read when the kids are REALLY pissing me off; and at the top, "50 Books that Changed the World", my 'red light book', kept in the car...
The next pile I confess to not having opened yet, this is my 'next' pile: "A Brief History of Nakedness", self-explanatory; "Empire of Chocolate", about Hershey's in the US (I just want to learn about how chocolate is made); and "The Color of Water", a memoir from a mixed-race American, which I actually forgot until now was on my 'next' list! I didn't buy the book. I got it when a woman I know in town, who used to live in the US and speaks fluent English, left it on my doorstep. She often leaves me books like this (her son lives next door) and she has good taste in literature!
Next, my parenting pile. I'm always pondering the vagaries of child-rearing - what's right and what's wrong, what works and what doesn't? And I'm always reading another book with another point of view. "Hold on to Your Kids" puts the blame on parents and children not spending enough time together. Montessori is famous - this book is how to do it at home. Not sure I'm ready for the mess yet...
The next pile is my magazines - I subscribe to National Geographic, Mothering and Mental Floss. There's also a People magazine in there, classic brain(less) downtime reading, a Marie Claire (used to be much better, but still tries to push the envelope with a serious subject every month), and a NZ parenting mag. I stock up on mags in NZ and read them throughout the year or so I am in Japan before I get back again.
Finally, in the centre, my paperbacks, or 'reading' reading material. From the bottom, "Cradle of God" a biography of Hiram Bingham, the man who 'discovered' Machu Picchu in Peru. I have temporarily lost this one, and I am hoping I left it at OIT. Next, Rebecca Otowa's collection of essays, "At Home in Japan", a wonderful selection of experiences and opinions. Next, my novel of the moment, Anita Brookner's "Latecomers", very 'serious' literature (and another one from my neighbor's Mum). "True Hauntings" is my kitchen book - bite-size tales of ghosts, because for some reason I love reading spooky ghost stories in my sunny kitchen! Finally Stephen King's "On Writing" which was quite interesting.
And right now? I am reading NONE of these, Mr King inspired me to finally pluck "The Stand" off my shelf and read it after owning it for about a decade.