How Many Books Should You Be Reading At Once?
Starting a new book is an exciting moment. From the moment we get it into our hands, we’re filled with the hopes of discovery that this new book will bring us.
Thrilling new stories? Bold new takes on history? Illuminating turns of phrase?
Then, just a few dozen pages into our new book, the siren song of another book calls us. Perhaps a recommendation from a friend. A 1st-place finisher on a Year’s End list. An eye-cathing cover.
“Heck, it’s not the same genre. Why can’t I start reading this one, too?”
Then we add on that audiobook during our commutes. And download that book for work on our tablet. Before we know it, our Goodreads (or just a look at our nightstand) tells us that we’re working on four, five, or a dozen (just me?) books at once.
Do we worry about keeping them all straight? Staying faithful to the book that started at all?
Far from book infidelity (I have to think two books sitting on each other at least know about each other), this sort of openness to reading multiple books at once has been debated for years. From Quora to Penguin, it’s frequently debated by both amateur book lovers and book professionals.
New technology certainly makes this dallying easier, but it’s all just a wrinkle on the same idea: how many books should we be reading at once?
Arguments For How Many Books You Should Read At Once
We can always find the argument we want to fit our reading style. Open to changing your mind? Here are some arguments for some of the more common book-reading tendencies.
Just One - Immersing yourself in just one book, says Vivienne Woodward for Book Riot, could provide the emotional stability that we’re lacking in increasingly chaotic times. Instead of jumping from book to book, settle fully into one world.
Okay, Maybe A Few Books From Different Genres - As a number of contributors to this Quora thread suggest, readers can extend their reading stamina by including multiple genres at once, if not multiple books from that genre. That could be one novel or short-story collection for fiction, non-fiction books covering different topics, and maybe an audiobook, too. The variety maintains interest, while the distinct areas keep too many storylines from folding in on each other.
- There Are No Limits - There are actually benefits to reading more than one book at once, writes Sadie Trombetta for Bustle. You can get through your To Read pile faster, balance the reading you like with the reading you need to do, balance the emotional content of your picks, reveal connections between disparate books, and more. While this isn’t necessarily a call to read as many as possible to prove that you can, the main concern with this reading philosophy is choosing reading that is both interesting and useful.
No matter how you go about your daily reading, it can be nice to take a step back once in a while and consider what you’ve accomplished. Why not grab the IRLA Reading Pack and reward yourself for hitting your reading goals?
What about you? How many books do you tend to read at the same time?