What’s on your Ottoman?

A new friend dropped by. Fortunately my desk faces the front window, so I had time to slip my bra back on. I know. I know. I’m a slob. A writer slob. Anyway, I opened the door with a flourish and a smile, and ushered her inside.

She stood back, hand against her mouth, and said, “Oh my gawd!” I looked around, panic stricken. Were there cockroaches? A dead rat? A giant spider?


“The books,” she said, almost breathless. “You have so many books and all going at the same time.”

“Ah, you mean reading?” I asked, and sat on the couch. My friend took the recliner chair, which requires one to push their bum against the back to get the footrest to pop up. Obviously she’d used one before, because seconds later her legs flew up and she sank back with a sigh.

“Yes. I know you’re a writer, but you obviously…” she said glancing around, pointing and counting. “You read six books at a time. I can tell by the bookmarks.”

“Doesn’t everyone?” 100_1397 I checked the books scattered over the ottoman and didn’t mention what was on my Kindle, or my bedside table. In front of me were two books on spiritual growth, one on healthy eating, one open and face down on editing, and two novels sent by a publishing company for review, and a delighful gift of original poetry from my talented friend Judy (Judith Ann Jennings.)

The eighth book, on the table next to the recliner, was the only one I was actively reading. It had arrived that morning, ordered through The Book Depository, because it isn’t published in the U.S. It was written by a friend who lives in England. I’d sworn that I wouldn’t start The Dress Thief, by Natalie Meg Evans, until evening. I had to finish the rough draft of my next book. I’d made the huge mistake of cracking the book open for a peek.

100_1401My friend stroked the cover of Natalie’s book. I needed to get back to that intriguing story, Paris in the late 1930’s, set against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War, the unrest in Europe, artists, speakeasy’s, fashion designers, and all fighting for place in that unsettling environment. Toss in a mystery from decades past, a current romance, and many flawed delightful characters, and I was hooked.

“I can see you’re busy,” my friend said. “I should have called first. Can we get together this weekend?”

“Sure. Calling first is best. If I don’t pick up, I’ll always get back to you in the late afternoon,” I said, escorting her down the front path to her car. We writers and readers need to protect out time. “I’ll call about plans for the weekend on Friday, maybe a movie and dinner?”

With a quick wave, and no guilt at all, I ran back inside and clutched The Dress Thief to my chest. I plopped into the recliner and sighed as I kicked up the footrest. There would be no writing done today.

So, what’s on your ottoman? How many books do you have going at one time? Enquiring minds need to know.

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17 Responses to What’s on your Ottoman?

  1. Kara Winters says:

    Checked my shelf the other day, and there are about seven total that I’m getting through as of right now! I really need to tone that number down. I never feel like I do the authors justice when I’m immersing myself into so many worlds.

  2. robena grant says:

    I hear you, Kara.
    It’s funny because I picked up both of the the books for review a couple of weeks ago and couldn’t get into either one. Then this weekend I picked one of them up and read it straight through. And loved it!
    My reading moods have taught me never to give up on a book, but to wait until the right time to read. Thus the many bookmarks. : )

  3. Janie Emaus says:

    I just finished BIG LITTLE LIES and started a new book. Like you, I’m usually more than one book at a time.

  4. Kay Hudson says:

    We won’t talk about the stacks of magazines on my coffee table, but I’m always actively reading three books at a time, one novel and one non-fiction on paper, and one novel on my Kindle. Of course there are also a few semi-abandoned ones lying around that I may go back to when I’m in the mood. BTW, you will love The Dress Thief. Wonderful novel.

    • robena grant says:

      Thanks for coming by, Kay. It’s funny how we can do that and keep them all straight in our heads. And I absolutely adored The Dress Thief. I know I’ll re-read it, too. I think I finished it over two days and could not put it down. Those characters have stayed in my mind ever since. Definitely a sign of great characters and excellent world building.

  5. Dee J. says:

    I just finished Sylvia Day’s Bared to You, but I cracked open Rosa Blasi’s biography Jock Itch a few days ago just for a peak. I usually never read more than one at a time, but occasionally I will read two depending on my interest level. I couldn’t imagine more than two though. Although… I am working on three manuscripts as of now, so I’m a little (very) scrambled! My hat’s off to you for all those books going at once!

  6. robena grant says:

    I prefer to read one at a time, but sometimes I get the itchies, so I start and stop. Good thing is, I almost always return and finish the story.
    I can juggle the writing of one story, the editing of another, and maybe the juggling of a third for contests and feedback, but I doubt I could be writing three at a time. : )

  7. I usually only read one book at a time. Occasionally, two, but not very often. I like to immerse myself in one story at a time! 🙂 And really wish I had more time to do so! Happy reading!

  8. robena grant says:

    Hey, Robin. Immersing yourself in story is delighful! : )

  9. I’m currently reading the RITA winner for best first book: The Sweet Spot by Laura Drake, AND

    • robena grant says:

      Hi Lynne, I haven’t read that one. But I just ordered a RITA winning book, Five Days in Skye, by Carla Laureano. I’m loving it so far. Adore anything Scottish. ; )

  10. that wasn’t supposed to go through yet!
    AND Wired for Story by Lisa Cron who used neuroscience to explain why STORY is the most important aspect of writing a great book, not powerful prose, or amazing research etc. Story. I highly recommend it.
    I like to read more than one book at once. It works for m

  11. Vala Kaye says:

    I usually have 2-3 in progress at any given time, but never of the same genre or type. Right now, I’m on Ch. 50 of Austen’s “Emma” in paperback and listening to an audiobook version as well to hear the flow of the prose and the cadence of the dialogue (I also write Regency as Kadee McDonald, so even when I’m immersed in writing YA paranormal/sci-fi, like now, I like to escape to early 19th century England on occasion.) On the bedside table is John Truby’s “Anatomy of Story,” which I should have read years ago. Also starting to research a future YA, I’m browsing in Dr. Michio Kaku’s “Physics of the Impossible,” particularly Ch. 12 on time travel. 🙂

  12. robena grant says:

    Thanks for stopping by, Vala. I think that’s the key to reading multiple books at one time, that they are not of the same genre. I adore Regency and always read it when I’m writing contemporary suspense. I don’t know Anatomy of Story. Will take a peek. : )

  13. Sam Beck says:

    I read ’em like I write ’em…one at a time! Right now I’m about 60% done with “The Collector” by some woman named Nora Roberts. It’s really good. I think she has a promising future ahead of her as a writer. 😉

  14. robena grant says:

    Ha ha. Yep, Sam, my guess is Nora Roberts is positioned for an amazing career. The last one I read of hers was Dark Witch, must go see what she is up to, maybe check into The Collector.