Reading Multiple Books at the Same Time?

Hello, and welcome to another post of Ayunda’s Thoughts, where I share my random bookish thoughts with you! This post is about something that has been bugging me for a long time, and I’ve always wondered what you guys think about it.

So, the big question is: What are your thoughts on reading multiple books at once? I stumbled into this video and I just wondered, are there are effects with reading only one book and reading many different books at the same time?

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Well I personally only read one to two books at the same time. And usually I read them in separate ways, one ebook in my Nook and one paperback or hard copy of a different book. Like for example, I’m currently reading both The Martian and The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August at the same time. But you might wonder, do I ever get their stories mixed up? For me, I read those two books on different times so I don’t get them mixed up. I usually read these two books alternatingly each day, so for today I’d read one book and tomorrow I’ll read the other one – I don’t ever read a few pages of one book and then stop and read the other book right after I read it.

The main reason why I do this is mostly because of convenience. When I’m going out, or on a school day, I always bring a book in my bag. But it’s so heavy and bulky if I bring, say an 800-page edition of my book in my bag and carry it around all day. That’s why I usually bring my e-reader when I travel. But there are also times when I’d get bored and I’ll want to read something other than an ebook. That’s when I’d read my paperback edition of another book.

Another reason why I read multiple books at the same time is also because I get bored of reading only one book at the same time. Especially with really long series that requires a lot of thinking, sometimes in the middle of the story I’d want to read something else that’s lighter, and I’ll pick up another book to read in the meantime.

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But one aspect that I’ve thought about when thinking about reading multiple books on the same time is if it affects your speed of reading. I’ve read that some people think it’s faster if you read only one book and focus on that instead of reading many different books together. But I can never really trust that theory, because I believe that it doesn’t really matter whether you read one book or five books at the same time.

From my own experience, I’ve seen more people who prefer reading only one book instead of many at the same time. But I also know a lot of people, most of them people I know on Goodreads, who read more than two books at the same time. They’d even read almost seven books together! And for me it’s weird, but I still understand why they do that.
But for me personally, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to focus when I read too many books at once. I think I did read three books at the same time once, but when I did that I’d put aside one of the books I’m currently not interested in and stop reading it altogether, so it still counts as only reading two books at the same time. And whether I read one book or three books or five books, I still have the same pace of finishing each books and it does not affect how fast you read.

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What are your thoughts on this topic? How many books are you reading right now and why? How many books do you prefer to read at the same time and why? Does it affect how quickly you finish a book? Don’t be shy to share and discuss your thoughts on the comments!

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37 comments

  1. I’m currently reading 15 books (Ah, that’s too many!), mostly because I read them, sort of in the same way as you described, reading depending on circumstance. I like to read a book with my coffee in the morning, so that’s currently a Stephen King book, and then I have a book that I like to take to the gym with me, especially since I like doing long cardio workouts. Then, I have books that are nonfiction and related to my job/area of study/professional interests in life. I’m reading about 4 different books that focus on tips, tricks, and advice for my profession. Since I’m currently trying out working from home, it’s nice to be able to pick up a book as a short distraction or break and read a quick chapter.
    The biggest reason I read multiple books, though, is mainly to fight against reading slumps. There are some books I only pick up when I’m in a slump with some of the other books I’m focusing on. I’d like to say it helps, and it does, but when a reading slump hits it’s still hard to pick up anything. Sometimes, however, it is easier to pick up one book over the other. I’m also always reading a short story collection for that purpose, since I can always pick that up for a short read.
    All in all, I don’t find it hard to keep any of the books straight, because they’re all such different books. I also don’t think it causes me to read slower. I read the same speed, because, even though I’m reading multiple books, it’s still easy to lose myself in each one and read it at my typical speed.
    Wow, this has been a really long comment, but I love this subject and that you actually like talking/musing about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha it’s totally alright, your points make a really good sense! I never thought of having different books for different occassions and places.
      I really agree that sometimes you need to read a different book to not get into a slump. It’s mostly why I read two different books at the same time, so that when I get bored of one of them I’ll read the other one 😃

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  2. I’ve always read multiple books at once, like three to four books, and I don’t actually like that I do this. I mean, I finish all four books around the same time, but it also takes me forever to get there. I think in the new year, I want to work on breaking this habit.

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    1. Well for me, I wait until I reach half of the book I’m currently reading to start a new one. But I guess it really depends on your reading style. If you prefer reading multiple books at once maybe it’s your peference! But if you want to try to read fewer books at once you should definitely try it out 👍

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  3. Great topic! I tend to read a ton of books at once, it depends on my mood. Normally this means the books are pretty different from each other then so I don’t worry too much about confusing their plot lines or what not

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  4. I’m all for reading multiple books at the same time, as long as the number doesn’t exceed 4. After that, DNF just stumble one after another. I read more than 1 book simultaneously because I need change in atmosphere. If I’m reading a ”deep” I’m gonna have to take a break and go into something lighter and vice-versa.

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    1. Great principle! I also feel the same about the length and heaviness of the book, sometimes if I’m reading something heavy like a classic I’d pair it with something light and fast-paced so I won’t fall asleep every time I want to read haha 😉

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  5. I find it depends on the book! If a book is really grabbing me, I can’t put it down for any reason, and have to read right through. But if I like the book, but don’t love, I’ll often have more than one on the go, and read each depending on my mood. Great post idea!

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  6. I tend to read one book at a time. I’m an all in or all out kind of person and when I try to read more than one book at a time, I find I neglect one or the other. This also happens with TV shows and fanfiction. If I’m binge-watching a new show, I don’t read at all and when I’m really into a fanfic, I don’t read books or watch TV. Hence, I stick to one thing at a time 😀

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    1. Ah wow, I never thought about separating watching shows from reading books! I rarely ever binge-watch a show, I usually space them out and still read books at the same day. Also I watch so so many shows at the same time hahaha. So apparently my habit for only reading two books at the same time does not apply to tv shows!

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  7. I can see where a lot of people are coming from when they read multiple books at the same time, but personally I can only read one at a time. That way I can fully immerse myself in the story and fully enjoy it. That’s just my opinion though. This was a great post! 🙂

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  8. Great post! I think it does affect my reading speed in a way- but that might be because I usually read more than one book at a time if I’m having trouble finishing one of them. Basically, if I don’t like a book I’ll stick it on “currently reading” on goodreads and go find something else I actually like. Otherwise I’m a stickler for reading one book at a time I’m afraid

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    1. Thanks 🙂 I get kind of irritated when I see in my Goodreads that I’m currently reading like 3 books, it just feels like I will never finis the books even though it’s not true. When I don’t feel like reading the book I’ll move the book back to the “to-read” shelf and maybe get back to it in a few months when I’m in the mood and start from the beginning! Although I rarely every do that 😀

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  9. Great post, really interesting. I used to always read one book at a time but in recent years I’ve began to read more. Now I usually have around 5 or 6 books on the go at once. I think I read more books now because if I’m not in the mood for one book I can just switch to another one that I’m already in to and can get straight into it.

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  10. I often have two books on the go, usually one on the e reader and another in hard copy. The reason is similar to yours – when I have to go on a business trip or holidays I don’t want to lug too many heavy books with me. But the other reason is that if I have review copies then they will be on the e reader. I don’t see how it affects my reading speed at all. I can take in only so many words per minute so how does it matter whether I am switching attention from one to another?

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    1. I agree about the reading speed, I don’t really know if it’s faster at all? But maybe if you focus more on one story you’d be quicker and more thorough when reading the book? Who knows it’s just a bunch of theories people say hahaha! 😛

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  11. When I was a kid growing up in Mexico City, I had a book in each of the three bathrooms, one under my bed, and one under the sofa.

    My mother was always wanting me to do something useful – if she could catch me! If she was upstairs, I’d sneak downstairs and find the book in the downstairs bathroom or the living room – and read one of those.

    Now I have books scattered, too, but they are old favorites I can pick up, read a small piece of, and put down.

    I don’t think it matters – unless you can’t keep the stories straight.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I never really thought about putting a book in the bathroom! That sounds like a very good idea! I usually just grab a random book (usually collected short stories or poems) from my parents’s bookshelf that’s right next to the bathroom.

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        1. That sounds super fun, my family especially my parents encouraged me to read more too, and I actually got that hobby from them so I agree how the presence of books in the house really affects my love of reading! 😀

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  12. I feel like it makes sense to read one, finish, then read another, but I don’t have a problem reading multiple books at once. Sometimes, if a book is boring, I might put it down in favor of another, and then get back to it afterwards. But especially for books that I would review for my blog, one at a time gets less confusing

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