I'm currently reading two audiobooks in parallel. I don't normally do this. If I'm reading books in parallel, one of them will be an ebook and the other an audiobook. My choice of which book to read is then mostly driven by where I am. If I'm doing something where I need my eyes but not my ears then iI choose the audiobook.
I got into this situation when I started reading Elizabeth Strout's "Anything Is Possible".
It's a wonderful book, emotionally rich and beautifully written but I can only take so much of it at a time.
The book has nine chapters, each of which is about an hour long. Each chapter gets me inside the head of one of the cast of characters who live in a small town. I don't want to move straight from one chapter to the next. I want time to savour each chapter and let it sink in as an entity.
Typically, I spend more than an hour a day listening to audiobooks so I decided to spend an hour a day on "Anything Is Possible" and the rest of the time on something else. The something else turned out to be "Night Broken", the eight Mercy Thompson book.
So what's the problem?
This morning, I had about an hour to spend listening to a book. I chose to listen to another chapter of Mercy Thompson dealing with the monster fire dog from hell rather than experience the inner life of another imperfect resident of Amgah.
The problem is that, for a moment or two, I felt guilty about that choice.
My inner book-snob emerged and proclaimed Strout to be "worthy" and Briggs to be at best frivolous.
This shocked me.
I'm in my sixties. I read for pleasure. How can this ghost of my "reading makes your special as long as it's LITERATURE" teenage nerd book-snob still be in my head?
I thought I'd cast him out decades ago when I realised that reading was food that nourished my mind and my imagination and my emotions. I like a varied diet. My appetite changes with my mood and my circumstances. The one thing I thought I had settled upon was that I read for pleasure, even if pleasure has me in tears over difficult things.
Yet the censor in my brain still labels somethings worthy and others guilty pleasures.
I hate that, so I'm using this rant to try and exorcise it.
I WILL NOT BE TOLD WHAT TO READ.
I read Strout and Briggs because they both write well and feed my needs. I will read whichever one I'm hungry for and not feel guilty.
Except the mind doesn't work that way. The reptile hindbrain still tightens its coils around my brain stem from time to time and squeezes in guilt or hate or fear or pride.
It's part of being human but that doesn't mean I have to like it.