Discussions & How to

Discussion: How many books at once?

I’m always so curious to read about other book bloggers’ reading (and blogging and book buying!) habits.  This week, the topic that’s been on my brain a lot is how many books to read at once.

Epic reads asked whether you read more than one book at a time and the results were split almost 50/50! 52% of voters said they only read one book at a time, but 48% said they read more than one at a time.

I’d say most of the time I only read one book at a time, but I love the idea of reading more than one at once (and definitely do it sometimes).  The biggest advantages to me of reading more than one book at a time are:

It alleviates book guilt

If I’m reading a review book at the same time, I don’t feel the same sense of guilt about picking up a book off my shelves, or a totally random choice from the library.


It allows more freedom to slow down

I hate to admit this, but since starting blogging, I read less of my favourite kinds of books: the 600 page+ fantasy novels that I always love (think Robin Hobb, Mark Lawrence, George R.R. Martin etc), and that’s partially because I feel like I’m constantly racing against time.  Racing to keep up with challenges, with review books, with the TBR mountain that grows faster than I can read…

Reading more than one book at a time allows me to take my time with a book (whether because it’s a slower read or just because I want to savour it), knowing that I’m still making progress towards my challenges.



I’ve got some books downloaded on to Matt’s iPad, others on my kindle, and of course plenty on my shelves, both paperback and hardback.  I’m generally too lazy to carry a physical book to work (particularly hardbacks) knowing that it’s unlikely I’ll even open it.  I can easily stick a kindle in my handbag though, and barely even notice it’s there.  This means that in terms of convenience, I can have a physical book on the go at home, and a book on the go on my kindle for those moments I’m waiting for my lift home or whatever.  I think this’ll be particularly true when I start my Masters in October and will be driving for at least an hour a day.  I’m hoping to get into audiobooks, so potentially I’ll have an audiobook on the go in the car, a kindle book to carry around for those between-lecture moments, and a physical book on the go at home (assuming I have enough brain power left for all this reading of course!).


It somehow feels more productive…

I have no idea why, but sometimes it feels more productive to have a few books on the go at once?! I think this may just be because I only really read multiple books at a time when I’m in a great place with my reading, and so I am being more productive (just not necessarily BECAUSE I’m reading more than one book at once).


Unfortunately, despite all the reasons I’d like to read more than one book, I usually only read one book at a time, because I just have a kinda mental block about it.  When I do read multiple books, it’s usually either during readathons or holidays.  The other time is when I’m reading one of the  fantasy choices I really want to read, so I can take my time with it while still making progress on my challenges (for example, I’m reading Fool’s Errand by Robin Hobb at the minute, but I’ve also got The One arriving tomorrow, so I’ll probably read the two at the same time).

Despite my (mostly) monogamous book ways, I’m hoping to get better at juggling.  Some of the great suggestions I’ve read so far on my search for tips on reading multiple books simultaneously include:
– reading books of different categories, like Stefanie and Jennifer & Lisa
– tying your different reads to different locations like Tawdra
– Matching your reads to different times of day (and places) like Sarrah
– Leigh has a full step-by-step of how to choose the right books!

What about you? Are you a one-book-at-a-time reader or a book juggler? (Or maybe you’re like Jamie, and you’ve changed from one to the other?!)


8 thoughts on “Discussion: How many books at once?

  1. I’ve always been a ‘I read several books at the same time’ reader. I don’t know what it is, but I enjoy books more when I can choose between some of them. I always try to read an ARC, an e-book and one of my own books. I like to switch up between genres and stories. I never have any problems with remembering what happens (yeay, thanks good memory :p) and it makes me read more than when I read one book. And like you say, it also makes it easier for me to finish huge books, because I just read other books in between 🙂

  2. Oh yes, it is always good to have more than one book on the go when you are in the middle of a very long book. I’ve been reading The Luminaries for a month and if I didn’t have other books to read too I’d go a little bit nuts. Of course if I was only reading the Luminaries I’d probably be done by now but I don’t think I’d be enjoying it as much. Also, the practicality thing. I have a kindle I take with me on my daily public transit commute to and from work. I leave the heavy print books to enjoy at home. It’s a slippery slope though, reading more than one book at a time. I started with just two and then it was three and now it’s usually around 5-6 though once I had as many as a dozen on the go at once!

  3. Thanks for linking! I love this kind of discussion and get excited every time I see it; in my view, there’s a lot of talk about there about reading specific books and not enough talk about the process of reading itself. I love that each reader has his or her own unique best practices, but we can still pick up helpful tips that work for us from other readers. Thanks for this celebration of reading to start my day. Cheers!

  4. I am, and always have been a juggler. I actually try to read LESS books at a time xD My challenge for this summer is to get my currently reading shelf on Goodreads down to three. At some points throughout the year it reached seven, and that was just too crazy. I have a notoriously short attention span, so if a book doesn’t grab my attention after a chapter or two, I’ll pick up another. And another. And another. Then I go back to the first, and repeat.

    The easiest way to read multiple ones I’d think would be different genres. For example a fantasy epic and a YA dystopian. That way you can read what you feel in the mood for (:

  5. I used to be exclusively a ‘one-book-at-a-time’ reader, for many of the reasons you listed. I felt like I’d confuse some of the elements of the books if I read more than one at a time AND I tended to feel like I’d always be comparing which one was the better book and end up ignoring the other(s). In the past couple of years though, I’m almost always reading 2 books at a time. Rarely more than 2 but it’s happened that I had 3 on the go a few times. I find that my attention span often benefits from changing things up and I’m a HUGE mood reader so having 2 different reads to go to suits me just fine. A lot of the times, I end up having an earc and a physical book on the go which also helps change things up hehe

    And I agree with Celine ^^ usually I don’t read to same genres to avoid confusion. At the moment I’m reading a YA fantasy and a MG read so I’m less likely to get both worlds jumbled up! But like Mel, I credit my good memory for helping me sort through any possible confusion 🙂

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