When I got home, I found I had a bit of a problem on my hands. I didn't know which book to crack first. There they were, all in one pile, and I didn't know which one I wanted to start. I realized that my indecision now put me in the strange position of having four books which I seemingly wanted to read simultaneously.
So I did.
I had these four:
- A history of cinematic presentation in smalltown America at the turn of the century, starting with itinerant motion picture road shows and then moving on to the nickelodeons and onward. Learned that audiences, even smalltown audiences, got really tired of footage from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake/fire.
- A book covering the greats of motion picture animation: Chuck Jones, Tex Avery, Ub Iwerks, Walter Lantz, Hanna-Barbera, etc. It stays on the topic of motion pictures and only briefly forays into television animation when necessary (Bob Clampett's Cecil the Seasick Sea Serpent, etc.) Kinda depressing in that the publish date was 1993, so folks like Jones and Friz Freleng are referred to in the third person present. Now they're firmly in the third person past and the constant reminders are a little sad, yis.
- A look at the depiction of the subway in popular culture, not just in America but all over the globe. It's actually a bit more tunnel-crazy than subway crazy, since it starts with ancient Roman pedestrian tunnels (one for the hoi polloi, the other for the Citizens) but it's terribly fascinating and I've just gotten to the part where Marc Isambard Brunel comes into play and tunnels under the Thames.
- A history of 42nd Street from the start, when Times Square was known as Longacre and there was but one gaslight illuminating the entire area, to the seedy 1970s to the Disneyfication and all that entails.
I ought to mention that I did this all in one sitting. All four books, chapter after chapter after chapter. I would finish one chapter in one book and put it down, and start a new chapter in another book. I didn't go all the way thru the books, though, but it was an interesting experiment.
It is an interesting way to read. You may want to try it sometime if you haven't. I liked getting all these facts in at once, and it felt kinda dangerous. The only drawbacks I had were having to switch typefaces as well as author's voices. If you read one book long enough that voice becomes familiar. Switching to a book by another author can sometimes be jarring, especially if the two don't agree on the same points of style.
I may continue this, but I do admit that I have this odd worry that I'll blow through these too quickly. I like a chapter or two before bedtime, that's for sure, but how much time would I save by reading in rotation? First answer: I don't care about saving time, because I like to spend as much time on a book as I can. Second answer: Unless you're rushing, you're pretty much spending the same amount of Elapsed Reading Time on each book whether or not you're reading in parallel or in series.
So honestly it's up to me to figure out whether or not I want to keep switching type and voice, or if I should just up and finish one of them. I kinda liked this experiment, but I'm pretty sure I'll be exercising the "read another chapter of the current one already, you mook" right very quickly.
Hey, it was either that or throwing stuff at the cat this weekend, and he's suffered enough indignity as it is.