It seems that there is a popular opinion out there that if you’re reading more than one book at a time, you must be one of those people who fall into the category of a cluttered, distracted, disorganized person. At best, you’re a multitasker who clearly is way too busy. But those who read a lot seem to say the opposite, that reading more than one book at a time is beneficial.
Johanna at My Home Tableau recently wrote a post on this titled, “The One Thing I’ve Learned to Help Me Learn More,” and I wholeheartedly identify with the core message of her article: Although it may seem counterintuitive, reading multiple books at the same time will actually help you read more.
Benefits of and Tips for Reading Multiple Books Simultaneously
1. I can read a long book at the same time as several short books without feeling like I’m drowning trying to get through the long one.
I recently read a biography of George Washington. It was a little over 900 pages long, and at first I was really struggling to make it through. (By the end, though, I was sad when it ended!) I might have been tempted to give up the book entirely had I not been reading other, shorter books at the same time. Reading other, shorter books at the same time helped me feel like I was still moving forward in my reading and provided me with new, fresh reading material when the reading got long.
2. I can read from multiple genres at a time and switch back and forth as the situation provides.
My mind works different ways when I read different genres. Some works are more stimulating, while others are more relaxing. Some require intense concentration, while others can quickly be speed-read.
I find if I read too many books in the same genre one after another, my brain turns to mush, and in some cases, fluff. Switching up genres actually compels me to go ahead andexcitedly start a new book after finishing one.
Another interesting phenomenon is finding how much seemingly unrelated topics intersect. My psychology book might actually apply something I read in a parenting book. A cooking book might intersect with something I learned about history. And so on and so forth.
3. It keeps the material fresh and new.
Some people, myself included, find they remember more when they switch from book to book (obviously, with balance, see below). Kind of like some people thrive in academics while studying multiple subjects. This may be different for others, just like some do better when they study just one specialized subject.
Maybe I have a few spare minutes to read, but delving into a deep book would make me want to shy away from reading at the moment. Instead, I can turn to my easy-reading book. Other times, I might have a longer period of time, and can pick up the more challenging book and give it the mental energy I need to.
4. Balance is key.
The key is having not too many and not too few readings going on simultaneously. Reading fifteen different books at one time might make the majority of us feel distracted. But three to five, and you’ve probably found the right tension.
5. It helps me push myself and pace myself.
Finishing one book gives me incentive to finish the next, and when I’m reading multiple books at a time, I’m finishing books more frequently, thus sort of instilling a self-imposed competitive drive to finish the next; I’m essentially building in a mechanism to push myself to read more and more often.
6. By keeping track of what I’m reading, I feel I have more flexibility to read multiple books simultaneously.
I use Goodreads to keep track of what I read, and it has served as a very helpful, easy-to-use tool. I also enjoy its social networking among fellow readers. If you want to keep your reading private, however, you can choose that option, too.
I know others who use Excel files or spreadsheets, and there are other online tools similar to Goodreads. I will share more about using Goodreads in a later post, but suffice it to say that this has actually helped me to read more by helping me more efficiently and effectively read multiple books at a time.
7. By allowing myself to read more than one book at a time, I also benefit from being able to read in a variety of formats at the same time.
I always have at least one book in progress in at least 3 different formats. This will be tomorrow’s topic….
Do you read multiple books at a time? What helps you push yourself to read more?