I got another book.

It was a gift from a friend who was convinced that I’d love it. Honestly, it made me kind of sad because I tossed it on the stack of other books I need to read or finish reading. That pile is almost as tall as I am, which might not be much of an accomplishment for most things, but then you consider that this column of words, paragraphs, stories and information is really an assemblage of sheets of paper with cardboard slats between them, you realize there’s a lot of reading to be done.

For some reason, I try to read more than one book at a time lately and it’s killing my ability to get through any of them. For a while, I was reading Moby Dick, Atlas Shrugged, Justification and of course, the Bible, all at once. Melville is on my phone, so I could read that while sitting in traffic, Rand is always somewhere on my bed so I read her before falling asleep and Justification stayed at the table in the dining room to be read when I was at home for lunch or dinner. N. T. Wright and nachos just make sense to me.

Moby Dick was such an awful read that after forty-two chapters, I finally quit it. Seriously, the number of digressions and rabbit trails about narwhals, crows nests and giant mammal migration routes was enough to kill the story for me. It was like reading eighteen shorter, realistically-sized books on various subjects. I remain unimpressed but must say that I don’t normally quit books. I read them to their occasionally ridiculous ends because they leave me wondering and wanting more. Novels, essays and even non-fiction present me with stories that I have to finish.

I have a stack of books with characters living in limbo because I haven’t been faithful to them. I have other tales with different lovers, enemies and narrators on the side. Their neglect is bothering me because I’m seeing the same kind of behavior in reality. I’m cheating on the stories I started years ago. I’ve allowed myself to get distracted by other paths but haven’t really left the old ones and I’m allowing my adventures to go unfinished. I’m hoarding them like I do books. I think this is a relatively Western, maybe specifically American thing to do.

I’m trying to figure out which of my stories should go out with Moby Dick. I’m examining each path and exploit to see where it might take me then assessing whether or not I want to go that way in my late twenties. I’m asking Jesus which ones He thinks are best, too. The scary thing is friends and dreams dwell among these diversions and I don’t want to give any of those up. But I can’t just keep piling them on and expect them to hang out like my protagonists, villains and John Galt who all wait so patiently for me, can I?