Should You Read Multiple Books At Once?

Here is a list of books that I’m currently reading:

That's a lot of books!
Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

When I was still in school, it was even worse, because I was slogging through incredibly dry political science and history textbooks and required reading, while still reading for pleasure in what little bit of spare time I had.

I’ve always enjoyed reading multiple books at the same time, and there are several reasons why:

I like to read based on my mood

Sometimes I’m in the mood for something short and quick, and other times I have several hours and want to immerse myself in very detailed fantasy or sci-fi novels. Every day I try to read a few poems in whatever current poetry book or anthology I’ve got on my nightstand. When I want something more colorful I’ll reach for one of the comic books or graphic novels that my boyfriend and I have in our vast collection (we’re both serious collectors, so I think it’s safe to say we have well over a thousand issues between the two of us, not including what’s still in storage at his grandmother’s house and the weekly haul we pick up every Wednesday).

Especially when I’m reading a massive novel, such as those over 500 pages, sometimes it’s nice to take a little break occasionally and read something quick and easy. That’s why, right now, I’m reading both Children of Blood and Bone and City of Ghosts; the former is an incredible high fantasy novel, but at over 525 pages, it’s not exactly a quick read, while the latter is a short middle-grade ghost story that I could probably finish in a day.

It allows me to get through my TBR list a little faster

I have almost 900 books on my TBR list, and if I can knock out a few of those at a time, I’m alright with that. Back when I used to read just one book at a time, I’d have days where I just wasn’t in the mood for it (see above). When I’m reading multiple books, however, I’m usually reading something.

I never feel rushed to finish a book

When I’m reading just one book at a time, I have a tendency to try to rush through it, because there are stacks and stacks of other books I’m trying to read too. That’s just something I don’t worry about when I’m reading multiple books at the same time, though, since I can read all (or most) of them simultaneously.

Girl putting books on a shelf
Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

Tips and Hints for Reading Multiple Books

I’m aware that reading multiple books at once is not for everyone. If you’re the kind of person who prefers sticking to one book, then by all means, go for it! Your reading choices are your own!

However, for those of you who maybe want to try, here are a few tips that might help:

  1. Read books that are from different genres. This is the most important piece of advice I can give you. If you try reading two books that are very similar, you’re going to have a better chance of confusing them. This is especially true for science fiction and fantasy books, where you have to keep track of magical and technological systems, as well as many different characters with unusual names.
  2. Don’t get carried away – pick just a few at first. Even when I was much younger, I still read a few different books at a time. As long as I follow rule #1 (see above), my brain does a good job of keeping all the different stories and characters separate. Until you work up to that though, start with just two or three different books.
  3. Take notes. I always take notes and annotate when I read. I don’t want to know how many sticky notes and small notebooks I go through in a year. If I pick up a book after not having read it for several days and need some brief reminders to get me back into the story, I just flip through my notes.
  4. Read using different formats. This is a particularly great tip for people who enjoy audiobooks. I usually have one audiobook that I’m working through, for those moments when my eyes are too tired from reading, or I’m doing chores around the house and still want to hear a good story. Right now, I’m reading three physical books, listening to one audiobook, reading one book on my Kindle, and reading another on my laptop.
  5. Read different books in different places. For example, read your fun novel at home, your non-fiction book at work, an audiobook on public transit, etc. It’s easier to keep track of different stories if you’re used to hearing or reading them in a particular setting.

The most important thing to remember is to take your time, and it’s okay if you get confused. Trust me, even though I’ve been reading multiple books as long as I can remember, I have moments where I pick up a book after a few days of ignoring it and feel completely lost. I just take a deep breath and spend a few minutes remembering where I was at.

Do you read multiple books at one time? Why or why not?


Photo in header image is by Lacie Slezak on Unsplash

Penny is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Author: Penny Wright

Absolutely bookish.

7 thoughts

  1. I almost always read multiple books at once, but I think the ones that I end up really loving are the ones that I end up reading straight through. I think the ones that I pick up and put down repeatedly I may like aspects of but there’s usually caveats. The ones I have a hard time putting down end up being the ones I recommend to others.

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    1. I definitely feel like it’s harder to get immersed in a good story if you’re constantly putting it down and picking it up again. Occasionally, if one of the books I’m reading is phenomenal, I usually have to force myself to check in with the others!

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