What the Heck is a Polylego?

Birchbark Books and Native Arts

by Angela Noel

December 29, 2016

I am a Polylego. What, you’ve never heard the term? Of course not, I just made it up. I needed a word to describe my habit of reading multiple books at the same time. Poly, means “many”–which of course you know. Lego, also the name of a very successful toy brand beloved by my son, boyfriend, and legions of others, means, “I read” in Latin. Thus, we are henceforth dubbed, polylegos. You’re welcome.

Polylego defintion
There’s only one wrong way to read books: Not reading books.

When I was nineteen I tattooed the Japanese character for “to seek” on my ankle. It looks like this: . Later, I read a different definition, one I thought had much more poetic heft: To crawl out of a dark hole. I like the idea that my quest for insight, ideas, and beauty is a quest to emerge from an unenlightened darkness.

My writing professor in college wrote a recommendation letter for me in 2001, when I was considering graduate school. He wrote, “Her mind is catholic, she is not dogmatic, she is curious and committed to possibilities.” I’ve remembered his words all these years because he saw in me what I wasn’t yet able to articulate about myself. A catholic mind is wide-ranging in tastes or interests. I’m a polylego in order to obey my natural inclination to seek new information, bringing ideas from disparate sources together, and finding connections that bring light to my darkness. You’ve seen the results of this collection in my blog posts this year. (I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride.)

Picking which book I want to spend my reading time with depends on the mood of the day. I feel drawn to one or the other and follow my inclination without question. A mix of fiction and nonfiction balances my love of story with my craving for knowledge. The variety of writing styles, topics, and storylines means I always have some gorgeous world to tuck into that fits the moment.

My current reading selection includes:

I just finished, The Devil All the Time, by Donald Ray Pollock and Charmed Particles, by Chrissy Kolaya. I loved Ms. Kolaya’s book so much, I wrote a review on Goodreads.
Angela Dvorak (Minneapolis, MN)’s review of Charmed Particles: A Novel

Whether you’re a Monolego (yep, just made that one up, too) or a polylego, I’m certain you have books or TED Talks, podcasts, or blogs that you love. Would you share a few of your favorites with me?




Author: Angela Noel

On a quest to become a better human, I write about parenting, leadership, and personal development. I tell my stories so you can find your own.

27 thoughts on “What the Heck is a Polylego?”

    1. Thanks, Anne! Maybe Polyscribo? I love the idea of writing two novels at a time. What a challenge to keep the storylines straight. Makes me curious who might be a polyscribo and how he or she makes it work. Are you working on more than one book now?

      1. Last year, while writing a contemporary novel, I also wrote a scifi thriller for my blog (which I then had edited and published as a Kindle book.) I liked working on two things at once, and could write according to my mood. I believe that Ira Levin mentions something similar in Rosemary’s Baby – though he didn’t manage to create a word for it!

        1. Wow! It sounds both exciting and challenging to write not just two stories, but in two different genres at once! I never considered it before. Maybe that’s a good stretch project for me in 2017. Thanks for the inspiration.

  1. I’m guilty of the same practice. Unfortunately, I often don’t get around to finishing some of them. One author I never fail to finish reading, usually in just a few sittings, is Erik Larson. As in Garden of the Beasts, he always weaves a personal story or two in amongst real historical events. I hope you will try his other works if you haven’t already. They are gems.

    Happy New Year Angela!

  2. I used to be a polylego. When I was younger, I was always reading three books at the bare minimum. But I’ve fallen out of the habit. I got my undergrad in English, and while I was reading several books at a time, they were all for class. When I started selecting my own books again, I stuck to one at a time. At the moment I’m reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. Since it’s a pretty long book, I might slip in some shorter novels while I’m reading it!

    1. Hi, Victoria!I’ve not read The Goldfinch, but just checked it out on Goodreads. It sounds awesome. I’m definitely adding that one to my list. Great suggestion! There is definitely something to be said about savoring a good book without distraction.

  3. I think there’s something wrong with people who aren’t reading more than one book at a time. Although I was slightly suprised to discover on Goodreads that I’m apparently reading 27 books at the moment.

  4. I’m a polylego too! I’m currently reading the Ranger Apprentice series of books by John Flanagan. I realize they are young adult novels, but I promised my 12-year-old I would read them so we could discuss them. I’m also reading Nowhere to Hide: Why Kids with ADHD and LD Hate School and What We Can Do About It by Jerome Schultz for personal and professional reasons. It’s good to have a mix of fiction, nonfiction, and a few random magazines lying around just in case I feel like zoning out for an article or two.

    1. Hi Dawn! I love that you’re reading with your son. It sounds like it might even be his idea? Sounds like a smart mom-son combo to me. Thanks for sharing Nowhere to Hide. I’d never heard of it, but it sounds like a good one for any parent.

  5. OMG! You really are my blog-soulmate! I read the first three sentences and yelled out (to my hubby…we are in the car at the moment) “A-ha! That’s me!” He (my dear hubby) said, “no, it’s an illness.” Alas, he is not a reader. I also love the tattoo idea! I’m not a big fan of tattoos, but if I found something significant enough, I might be tempted…

    1. Ha! That’s wonderful. I absolutely think we’re blog-soulmates. 🙂 If you find that perfect tattoo let me know! I’ve toyed with an idea of getting another one. But it just doesn’t seem all that important anymore. It takes longer, but I hope who I am becomes obvious through my actions, rather than what I brand myself as. But there’s all kinds of reasons for and against. Things change though: If my heart wants it, I’m willing to give in!

  6. I am also reading 2 books and writing two books one book is a forensic food one so I pick it up and put it down ..I need to concentrate when I read it( or I want ) to shall I say the other is light reading ..My writing is two different genres so it depends on my mood as for inks I love them but haven’t got one 🙂

  7. I could have sworn that I had commented on this post of yours before, but I guess not. I have to say that I am not a polylego. My type A personality (or is it more of an OCD thing?) does not allow me to start a book before I finish another. It drives me crazy. Ha! I’m reading a book now that I’m trying to finish quickly because it’s not too interesting, and there is another book waiting for me that I can’t wait to read. Oh, and last summer I did something for the first time, I had decided not to finish last a book because it was down right boring, but it’s still bugging me today. Even though I know it’s boring, I feel like I should finish it. Oh well, I’ll get over it at some point (or will I?).

    1. I do know that nagging feeling! I find that sometimes I start a book and finish it YEARS later. Sometimes, for one reason or another I’m just not quite ready for whatever message the book has to say. So maybe the boring book of today is the best book ever tomorrow.
      Ththabks for reading (this post and just in general) 🙂

    1. I think of it like going to a buffet. I might want to try the goat cheese parfait, but if it’s just not worth the calories…
      In my defense I finish the vast majority of what I start. But, as my aunt is fond of saying, life is too short to read a boring book!

  8. I would be a terrible polylego!
    Once I start reading a book I have to munch it in massive chunks until i have finished the whole thing. I don’t think I could manage that with several books at the same time!

  9. Monolego here. I treat each book like an exclusive relationship. I fully invest myself (often to the point of obsession). And when I’m done with the book, if it’s a good one, I feel like there’s a hole in my life.

    This is a blog I recently found that I really like https://kimmccrea.com/. Like me, Kim simply pokes at an idea, often with no resolution. But wow, can she write. I learn a lot every time I read one of her posts.

    1. Thanks for sharing both your thoughts and Kim’s blog. I am sure it’s a good one and I’ll run over and check it out.
      There are some books that I do feel I need to have an exclusive relationship with. But, I think it’s the hole feeling that I like to avoid. I want a book to be affecting, but I have felt that hole before and I don’t like it. Though I do appreciate that any author and any story that grabbed me that tight is one heck of a book!

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