At a party last night, I fell into conversation with a friend who’d borrowed a book from me a couple of months ago. “I still have your book,” she began, “but I’ve not started reading it yet. I have three or four books to finish first.”

She explained that she typically reads several books at a time–some fiction, some nonfiction–on a variety of topics. “I enjoy that much better than reading a single book from start to finish,” she said. “The only problem is, I keep getting overdue notices from the library. I got two in the past week. It’s aggravating.”

I suggested she try checking e-books out of the library because they’re easier to renew and “return.” She rolled her eyes. “I love e-books,” she said. “They make it that much harder. I’ve downloaded several to my reader that I’ve not started yet. I need to make a list, prioritize them.”

We’re kindred spirits, because I like to have several “good reads” in process at the same time, too. Right now I’m reading three novels (one of them I read aloud from my Nook while Judy drives us to/from work), a book on moral psychology, and a daily devotional from Thomas Merton’s journals. I’m sure some of my friends think this is eccentric. Some of my writer friends must wonder why I spend so much time reading and so little time writing.

What can I say? A variety of reading fare keeps me curious about life, stretches my horizons, and gives me something worth sharing in party conversations. I have to think it enriches my writing, too.