Let’s Talk: Reading Multiple Books At A Time

Let's-Talk-Reading-Multiple-Books-At-A-Time-She-Latitude-Book-Blog

In the stone age—and by that I mean before I discovered Goodreads—I used to read one book at a time. This was not necessarily by choice but more by convenience, more by chance. My step-by-step process kind of went like this:

  1. Fret over what to read.
  2. Finally settle on a book.
  3. Read that book until the end.
  4. Rinse and repeat.

Now, though? It kind of goes like this:

  1. Fret over what to read.
  2. Go to Goodreads and add 50 books to my TBR.
  3. Fret over what to read from that 50.
  4. Finally settle on a book, let’s say Title A.
  5. Start Title A.
  6. Find Title A not the right fit for my current mood, so start Title B.
  7. Read Title B until the middle, where it becomes boring, so start Title C.
  8. Read Title C until the end.
  9. Pick up Title D until the middle, where it becomes boring, so continue with Title A.
  10. Read Title A until the end.
  11. Fret over what to read since Title B and Title C aren’t cutting it.
  12. Go to Goodreads and add 50 more books to my TBR.
  13. Rinse and repeat.

Currently I’m in the middle of The Forbidden Wish, Truthwitch, and The Scorpio Races. Some of these I’m just two or three chapters in, but some of them I’ve actually read past the halfway mark, often putting them aside to read something else. Admittedly, some of them will probably become DNF books, but right now I’m still in denial and publicly declaring that I am in fact still reading them. 😛

Certain titles I read cover-to-cover, mostly books that I am super excited for (The Rose and the Dagger) or can’t put down once I start reading (The Impostor Queen). In my experience, whether or not I read a book in one go doesn’t affect my opinion of the book at all — if a book is great, it’ll be great no matter how I read it.

Generally speaking, though, I am firmly in favour of reading multiple books at a time, a habit that’s sometimes termed poly-reading, multi-reading, or even chunking. At any given time I’m probably reading about 3-5 books with maybe one or two of them as my main reads. Here’s why. 🙂

1) I’m a mood-reader. A huge, oblivious mood-reader.

OK, I’m actually just a moody person in general with pretty much everything, but the point stands: it doesn’t matter how well-written and wonderful some books are — if I’m not in the right mood to read them, I just won’t enjoy them.

Apart from being a mood-reader, though, I’m also an oblivious mood-reader. Sometimes I wouldn’t realise that I’m not in the mood for a book until I’m three chapters in, and by that time, usually I’d already feel a bit invested in the characters and the story. I care, but I just don’t care enough… yet. So I’ll put it down, read something else, and then I’ll pick it back up when I actually want to know what happens. ❤

2) It reduces my immediate TBR pile.

Soooo I’m the kind of person who adds things to my to-do list just for the sole purpose of crossing them right after. In the same vein, moving books from my TBR to my reviewing or currently-reading pile makes me feel more productive — even if I end up dropping that book permanently.

3) It helps me get past boring starts.

My best judge of whether or not a book will be enjoyable for me is usually the beginning. If the first few pages don’t capture my attention, I’m way likelier to (temporarily) put the book down and move on to other things.

Chunking a book has helped me get past slow beginnings of great books (think Alwyn Hamilton’s Rebel of the Sands). Until I get to that point where I find my reading momentum, I’ll keep putting the book down, reading something else, and picking it back up again. 😛

4) It’s a great way to read review books I don’t enjoy.

As a general rule, I always finish a book if I intend on reviewing it. This is not to say that everyone should do the exact same thing, of course; it’s just that personally, I feel like my opinions are more valid if I give the book a full, complete chance. 🙂

Sometimes it so happens that the review book is really, really tedious for me (think Estelle Laure’s ARC of This Raging Light), making reading a bit of a chore… at least until I decide to break it down to chunks and read a little at a time. Basically I read only until I feel my attention fully slipping away and don’t force it, making my reading experience overall bearable. Not a bad strategy, huh?

Do you read each book cover-to-cover, or do you read multiple books at a time the way I do? Why or why not? 🙂

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104 thoughts on “Let’s Talk: Reading Multiple Books At A Time

  1. So you’re a book polygamist?! #scandal 😂
    I read multiple books at once, usually books of different genres, so I pick up what I want to read at a particular time. But if I’m super into a book, I will read it cover to cover and then pick up a new one. Since I’ve started blogging and actively using Goodreads, I’ve noticed that my how to choose a book to read routine has become a lot like the one you mentioned. 😛 SO MANY BOOKS SO LITTLE TIME

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    • Oh my god, I didn’t think of that term! Good catch. 😛

      Yeah, I think the same goes for me. It’s only when an author can fully capture my attention for the whole book that I don’t put it down ever, and that doesn’t happen as often as I’d like, unfortunately. I sometimes wish I can touch a book and just ~finish reading it~ but I guess that’ll take away from the pleasure… although that’d be SO GOOD for my TBR pile.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You know I read multiple books at once girl, that’s the way to go! Honestly though I am not a mood reader at all but I do tend to get bored easily if I’m in one story for longer then a quarter. I’m a multi tasked and that also comes into play with books because it’s almost like I can’t not be juggling a bunch of things at once. Usually I’ll have my monthly theme, the general idea of the order in which I want to read those books and then start to read by quarters. Ex: Book 1 read to 25%, then book 2 read to 25%, go back to 1 and read to 50% then get book 3 to 25% then back to 2 to 50% and so on. I used to say that I could only read 3 but no more but with buddy reads I’ve been doing I’ve gotten up to six and while it’s definitely more challenging, I’m managing.

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    • I multi-task pretty much with everything too (i.e. I will play games while watching TV, browse, etc.) but once the story grips me – actually GRIPS me – I tend to stay with it for a bit. Not all books do that, though, which is unfortunate!

      Oooh, I didn’t know you have a monthly theme! How do you decide what’s next, and what’s your theme for June? 🙂

      I LOVE the idea of buddy reads but I never know what mood I’m gonna be in next. We should buddy read something together – definitely down for ACOL, but that’s sooo far away. What are you reading next that I can join you in a buddy read? 😛

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      • Yeah, that doesn’t happen that much to me. I can tear myself away when my obsessiveness to keep my schedule makes me haha.
        I’m guessing you’re never seen any of my TBR posts then? haha I usually decide what I want to read for a year, in the last months on the year before and focus on the things on my shelves that I haven’t delved into in awhile. My theme for June is mythology and I’m really excited because I’m hopefully going to read a lot of Rick Riordan.
        We already have ACOL and ItI and BfB planned but maybe you can see my TBR for next month and see if anything interests you? Or maybe compare books with me on Goodreads and see what calls to you and we can read it!

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        • I feel like I’ve seen your TBR posts – I mean, I must have! But my memory is terrible and therefore I blame my memory. I think it’s cool though that you have a theme; I wish I could do that too but I’m way too moody a reader to stick to a certain genre, let alone a specific theme! I’ll be living vicariously through you. 😛

          ACOL is definitely, DEFINITELY a book I’m interested in buddy-reading. What’s BfB and Itl? All these book abbreviations and I’m so lost!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Ahah I like your idea of mood-reader and oblivious mood reader! And I do totally the same. I’m reading about 20 books at the same time, and I know i will finish them, the order and time only depends of my mood.
    I think more and more readers read like that nowadays, and that’s why it’s super important for authors to REALLY hook us from page one, so we have no choice but to finish it asap!

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  4. Oh my god yes at this entire post! I laughed so hard at current step by step process because that is LITERALLY me. I read multiple books at for all the reasons you listed because I too am an oblivious mood reader 😅. I also read multiple books at once because of my non existent attention span. I need to change things up or I’ll fall into a slump. Sometimes a book can grab me from the start and I won’t be able to stop reading it, but unless that happens I need other options. It’s also why I read tons of graphic novels and comics in between books.

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    • Haha, glad you can relate! Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one since it feels like everyone knows what they’re reading next and I’m just like ??? every time I finish a book.

      I read tons of comics too (OK, manga) between books and I do play games or watch TV series. I think generally that’s where the ‘changing things up’ mostly is for me, except when I read the occasional non-fiction book or listen to an audiobook/podcast. 😛

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  5. I only read multiple books at once if I have a book to read for school, and if I don’t, I usually only read one book at a time so I don’t get mixed up between the plots! My tactic if I do have to read two books at once is to read one chapter of my school book, and then a chapter of my other book, and keep going until I finish the section of the school book or completely finish my other book!

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  6. I only read one book at a time, but I really wish I could read more at once haha But if I read more than one book, I end up confusing the books (I could avoid confusing plots by reading books that are really different, but I’d still confuse the characters) and it takes me forever to finish a book because I keep switching back and forth and it annoys me. I already am a bit sporadic with posting reviews, so I don’t need to make it any worse haha

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    • I understand, haha. I think for me even if the books are similarly themed I don’t really get confused – my brain just divides up the books that way, so this kind of reading style works for me. I’m also pretty sporadic with reviews though and SO MUCH WORSE, because some reviews I started writing like five months ago and still haven’t published. D:

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ahaha, I love this. I’m a one-book-at-a-time guy, but I can definitely see how this technique works for you. Maybe I’ll give it a try during my next major reading slump and see if it helps drag me out of it. 😀

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  8. I’m trying to be a more than one book reader lol. As long as I read different genres than I won’t confuse them (too much). Plus i am also a mood reader so having options is good

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    • That’s kind of my whole (life?) philosophy – options are good, haha. I tend to read within one genre but for some reason I don’t really get mixed up. It’s probably my short attention span, haha. 😛

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  9. I really wish I could read more than one book at a time, but it doesn’t work for me. I like to completely immerse myself into the book I’m reading, so reading more than one won’t really work. Unless a book really doesn’t cut it for me, then I’ll start another one.

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    • I think that’s definitely a disadvantage of the way I read – it’s harder for me to immerse in a world because I keep switching between books, at least until I find that momentum where everything picks up and I start being unable to put a book down. I do put down books (temporarily) quite a bit, though.

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      • Haha it does mean I read less books than people who read like 5 in one go, but it works better for me. I’ll have to try your way though 🙂

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          • Haha, maybe it’s the pressures of book blogging, but I feel like I should be reading a lot more books than I do.

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              • 5 books a week?? I think I read slightly more than 5 books this month, but I read more last month. Got to remember though, it’s not a competition 🙂

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                • Absolutely. Haha, I probably read about the same as you, maybe a bit more? It really depends on the month and if I feel like reading or if I’m distracted by my other hobbies (right now it’s gaming). 🙂

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                  • For me it’s writing at the moment 🙂 I’m finding it hard to balance writing with reading , and its so difficult. I just can’t manage my time, and writing is obviously much more important. And blogging too! I could read more books if I took out all the time I spend blogging, but I enjoy it too much haha

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                    • That sounds like my writers block. It can get so bad when I don’t write for a long time. Have you been planning to write a book? I’d love to help if I can (fellow writer at your service ☺)

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                    • Hmm, I used to! Then I got kind of busy with life and just forgot about it for a bit. Reading and blogging have made me entertain the idea again, soooo I guess we’ll see. What about you? What do you write, if I may ask? 🤗

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                    • I definitely recommend giving it a go, just for fun 🙂

                      Ah! Well, I’m writing a novel at the moment about two friends growing up in Iraq (that’s a really brief summary haha) I’m still writing, nowhere near finishing.

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                    • I will try! I think I get super stuck on the world-building (I like fantasy so that’s what I’m going for) and I just can’t seem to progress past it, haha. Hope your writing is going well! Is it set in the present time? 🙂

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                    • Haha I completely understand. I’m having problems too, writing about a country I’ve never been to. Maybe if you can get all the dialogue and character depth sorted, you can go back world building after? Not sure..
                      I hope it works out for you, though!

                      Thank you! It’s set in the present time, but I haven’t given away too much yet. Here’s my MC 🙂 https://noteablepad.wordpress.com/2016/05/24/in-my-notepad-chapter-1-meet-my-mc/

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  10. Thats what my reading pattern looks like at the moment as well…if you check my Goodreads, I’ve started so many but barely finish lol! I’m definitely a mood reader…some books I just manage to finish faster than others; and you’re right it does help get through some of the more boring intros. If it wasn’t for Goodreads I might forget I’m actually in the progress of reading those other books 😅

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    • At least you’re still good with using Goodreads! I gave up updating my ‘currently-reading’ pile just because I tend to change it up all the time and I’m just too lazy to use Goodreads that much.

      How many books do you tend to read at a time that you start forgetting them? I sometimes forget these things too but I’ve found those books are probably not worth picking up – my interest just isn’t that strong if I forget them! 😛

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  11. I am definitely a mood reader, too. I usually read no more than 2 books at a time. I’ve tried reading more than that in the past, but I would usually end up never finishing some of them, or just plain getting too overwhelmed or confused. Right now the only reason I have 2 going is because one is released in weekly installments, so I need something else while I wait. That has worked out well for me (it’s actually like chunking!). Nice post! 🙂

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  12. I used to be a multi-reader, I think the most books I ever had going at any one time was three though, and one I ended up putting on the back burner for ages that it took me a few weeks to finish. Now I can get through a book a day so I tend to not multi-read as much because, well there’s no need.
    I am completely the same as you in terms of being a huge mood reader. I have a to-read list but I very rarely follow it because I’ll see a book on Goodreads, think it sounds amazing, and then start it straight away regardless of the hundred odd others already on my to-read list. It’s probably why my to-read list never seems to get any shorter! 😀

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    • In reality some of these books I’ve started I’ll probably never finish and will end up in my DNF pile. Usually if I’ve been ‘currently reading’ them long enough but never finish them, that just means I’m forcing myself to go through it. :/

      I know! I like to think that I have a TBR, but in truth I really just go with whatever I feel like. 😛

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  13. I loved this post, and all of your reading process, ahah. I’m more of a one-book-at-a-time kind of person, because I like to focus on one book entirely, but sometimes I’m forced to read another book for work or stuff and it annoys me, a lot. However there are just so many books on my TBR right now, I could consider reading them ALL at once, I would love to do that, ahah 🙂

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    • Ooh, what sort of books do you have to read for work? I sometimes wonder if it’ll take out the pleasure out of reading if I HAVE to read for work. 😛

      I definitely can’t manage reading ALL the books on my TBR at once. For one my wallet probably can’t take it (OK, it definitely can’t), and two… what about what happens when a book really takes my attention?!

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      • It’s books from independant publishers usually (so, almost completely off-the-radar), mostly fiction. Where I’m interning, there’s kind of an emphasis on making other people discover these kind of publishers and books, so I have to read usually two books per month from two different publishers, and write a review about it afterwards :). To be honest, at times, I’m kind of bothered, especially when I’m in the middle of an incredible book, and I have to stop to read one of these books for work, haha. It kind of takes out the pleasure yes. After, some books are good, so that’s okay, I guess 🙂

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        • Aww, yeah, I think there’s definitely a need for a forum for indie books… I gotta say that I don’t really look for them myself, haha. What genre did you have to read? Can you tell the difference between the indie publishers and the traditional publishers? I’m assuming indie here is actually indie, not self-published. 🙂

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          • There’s a little bit of everything, really, this month I have read an adult contemporary / thriller book, last month I read an incredible picture book from an English author/illustrator, Edward Gorey…it really depends on the publisher 🙂 That’s a good question actually, I can only tell the difference from the book’s appearance, really, because they clearly stand out / don’t look like every other book out there. Yes it’s indie, and not self-publishing 🙂

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  14. Hahaha, I’ve actually never read multiple books at once! I’m a really fast reader (I average 100 pages an hour), so I can usually get through 2-3 books per reading day – this means my TBR gets taken down pretty quickly 😅 And for some reason, I just can’t read more than one book at the same time. It drives me up the wall to know that I’ve left a book unfinished – just like how I can’t own more than 5 books that I haven’t read yet, hahaha.

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    • 100 pages an hour! I’ve never really calculated what my reading speed would be but I think I can read up to 2 books a day, too, though usually it’s the staying stationary that bothers me. 😛

      I think that’s a good habit though! I’ve got many books that I’ve bought and haven’t read, and I always feel like I’m spending way more than I’m actually enjoying.

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  15. I used to read just one book at a time as well, but I think I started reading multiple ones at a time when I started a job where I had to read books. Said books were not in my genre at all (mostly crime or thriller) and I needed something happy or at least more along the lines of what I enjoyed when I was on my own time. So, I read more than one book and it still worked.
    Also, now all the buddy reads kind of necessitate that I read more than one book. Sometimes it’s difficult to coordinate with many people. You don’t want to get too far ahead or behind.
    Lastly, I am also a mood reader and an oblivious one at that too, so I can totally relate to that hahaha

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    • Oh wow! Do you still do that job? That sounds kind of cool, even though the books aren’t necessarily books you’d naturally be picking up.

      I’m kind of amazed at the number of buddy reads some people (including you) do. I think it’s hard for me to coordinate reading the same number of chapters as others – if I REALLY enjoy the book I might as well read it in one sitting, so I think I’m usually more worried about getting too far ahead than behind. How do you manage that? 😛

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      • No, I don’t have that job anymore. It was an internship with a TV station, where I was supposed to read the books and then write my recommendation as to whether they would work adapted for TV or not. It was exhausting, because I just wished for something else to read.
        Well, during my latest buddy reads, I was always the one being way ahead. Then I had to stop and switch books, since I read like 3 books at the same time sometimes, it was just a matter of choosing which to continue next. But yeah, sometimes I wish I could just tear through it too in those cases.

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        • That sounds pretty cool. How do you decide whether or not a book is fit for TV adaptation? Is there a specific criteria to be looking for?

          Yeah, that’s exactly it! I think the buddy reads I’d be a natural in would be those where we just read a book in a day and discuss it afterwards, haha. I often forget to stop to, um, react to certain scenes (and update Goodreads or Twitter) because I’m so involved in the story.

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          • Hmmm … I don’t think there is a universal guideline as to what would work on TV or not. Maybe if there is a lot of inner monologue that’s important for the story or the voice of the character, it isn’t really fit for TV because that is not easy to depict and people don’t usually like narrating voices. Also, depending on the budget of the TV station, the show or movie maybe shouldn’t have too many venues it takes place in. Also, you wouldn’t want something that takes place over years and years, because aging characters are also difficult unless you can do it in short flashbacks. My producers also weren’t always looking for really complex stories, because TV is supposed to be a little lighter. It’s more of a feeling I was looking for. Could you pack this story into 90 minutes or not hahaha

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            • That sounds SO interesting! Sorry for making you type all that up – I just never really realised it was a thing, although obviously people look at stories and work out if they would work on TV all the time. I just didn’t really think about it, haha. Did anything you pick end up being a TV series? 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

  16. I definitely read multiple books at the same time and I’m a huge moody reader as well! My process is a almost the same as yours though I always read a paperback along with an ebook. Great post!

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      • Well… not exactly. I can fairly keep the two story differentiated in y mind. I can read an ebook without the light in the room, so I usually read a paperback when the light’s on and the ebook in the night… so my parents don’t get to know that I’m still not asleep… 😛

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  17. I think I read “better” if I only focus on one book at a time. I’m a terrible book polygamist. It’s not that I’ll forget what happens but rather I naturally get drawn out of the world because I have great enjoyment of [other] books if I start adding more to my currently reads.

    But yeah I’m a mood reader 95% of the time unless there’s a book that’s releasing that I MUST read and therefore I try to pace my reading such that I finish the currently reading before jumping into the new book.

    I’m not sure if I agree on the “It reduces my immediate TBR pile” unless you’re one to be able to DNF it completely and move on — BECAUSE THE IMMEDIATE TBR PILE IS INFINITEEEEEEEEEeeee.

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    • I think there definitely comes a time where I forget all the books I read and just finish one book – perhaps it’s more accurate to say that I’m a book-beginning polygamist. Once I’m past a certain stage, I just finish the whole book. 😛

      And yep, I’m exactly with you on mood-reading. I do DNF books and I think I do so quite freely! Not with all books, though, and the fact that I keep adding more to the TBR is not… helpful.

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