Rotating books

Ben Robinson

Ben Robinson

All About Ben

By Ben Robinson

I’m reading five paperback books right now.

Depending on your opinion, that either makes me rather smart or, well, the opposite of rather smart.

My brother Thom reads books one at a time, finishing one before he even begins another. I, on the other hand, have always rotated my reading.

This goes back to my college days. One semester I took 21 hours of classes, or seven different classes. That’s considered ambitious, as most people consider 18 to be a full load. Honestly, I only took 21 for one semester, and it was my fault.

I began college as an electrical engineering major. My advisor said because I did well on the SAT, I should try electrical engineering, because electrical engineering graduates made more money than English graduates.

True. But I soon found out that the electrical engineering students who made so much money had actually graduated. The money for dropouts was pretty low.

I stayed in electrical engineering for a year and a half. I met many nice, smart people. But the classes kept getting more difficult. A math class had a problem that featured E to the T-squared.

“How did ET get involved with this test?” I screamed in anguish. I phoned home, but somehow still failed the test.

Finally after three semesters of failing grades and nearing academic probation, I went by Sikes Hall to change majors.

The lady there was nice.

“I need to change majors,” I said.

“OK,” she said. “What is your major right now?”

“Engineering,” I replied.

“And what do you want to change to?” she asked.

“English,” I said.

She looked up from her files.

“Wow, you really didn’t like engineering, did you?” she said with a smile.

Not many courses transferred from engineering to English. You would think they were different languages. I was probably the only English major with Engineering 180 used as an elective.

And I had to take six semesters of a foreign language. I started to change my major to Spanish so I could take some English courses.

But I did graduate, though it was a semester later than planned. I stayed for one more football season, so I considered myself to be a “redshirt” senior.

When I had 21 hours of classes one semester to catch up, I decided there was no way I could do all of the assigned reading, so I rotated and read a little for each class.

A professor told me that my comparison of two of Shakespeare’s plays “showed good insight,” but it was basically because I had not read the other two that the test was on.

Back to my habit of rotating the books I read, I figure it keeps me interested in each book longer. Right now, the rotation includes a book by Johnny Cash’s ex-wife, which I felt I should buy in honor of the Man in Black.

Another book is by Yogi Berra, the former Yankees baseball player and manager, not the character who steals pic-a-nic baskets. Yogi is the guy who after watching a Steve McQueen movie with friends wondered if the film was made before McQueen died.

Another book in the rotation is by Ann Rule, who has a talent for making true crime stories more interesting than fiction.

Another book is about two kids whose father died and they grew up in the depression. This one came from Thom, along with two more books by the same author, so I assume it gets better. I’ve got 30 more chapters to go.

The fifth book had a title I could not resist: “Does This Church Make Me Look Fat?”

By the way, I try to read 50 books a year, and a five-book rotation each month gets me to that goal. Last October I asked Thom how many books he had read. He said he was working on his 90th book.

So rotating books isn’t any faster. Its just the way I do things.