There’s more than one way to read a book …
How do you keep them all straight?
I can barely handle one book!
There’s no way I could keep track of them all.
I’ve got a confession: I’m a multi-tasking book reader. At the beginning of the year, I set my Goodreads challenge, and then I looked like I was going to lose. By mid-March, I should have been 10 books in, and I was still sitting at one.
Then, all at once, I finished five books in two days. You see, I’ve never been able to read one book at a time. To me, reading multiple books with multiple purposes just feels like the norm. After all, I don’t eat the same food every day. I don’t listen to every song by a single artist at once. In fact, these days, I usually don’t even listen to an album. I’ve got playlists! I don’t just watch a single TV show straight through without watching other entertainment in between (I know some people love their binge-watching, but I get bored).
I like variety, and I’ve found that having a solid rotation of reading material has tons of benefits. Namely, I get through a lot more books! I also read books that I wouldn’t if I had to focus on those and those alone, but they’re still valuable and worthwhile.
At any given moment, I have between five and six books going. Here’s how I decide what to read.
Book 1: The Enjoyable Fiction (in Actual Book Form)
This is my go-to. My bread and butter. My foundation. I love fiction I can get lost in, fiction that makes me feel like I’ve completely forgotten the responsibilities of the world around me. I often read these fast, and they’re usually not particularly intellectual. Sometimes, they’re pretty formulaic. Some of them are even sappy. I might even label a few of them “guilty pleasures.” They run the range in quality (and my willingness to admit to reading them), but I’ve always got one at the ready, and it’s always a real, paper, hold-in-your-hands-and-turn-the-page book. (Usually from the library. Use the library! It’s magical.)
Book 2: The “Smart” Book (in Actual Book Form)
I love to read, and I love to learn, and reading is one of the best ways to learn. I read a lot of nonfiction that helps me have a better sense of the world. History, psychology, biography, science — I love it all. But I’m slow at reading it. I lose focus if I try to slog through once I’m past my optimal attention zone. And what’s the point of forcing myself to read once that’s happened? I’m grown. It’s not like I have a test to study for. I just put it down and go to another book, knowing I’ll come back and (eventually) finish.
Book 3: The “Don’t Mindlessly Scroll through Facebook” eBook
This is a new addition for me, and I’m loving it. Too often, I’ll find myself with a space of time that I’ll spend mindlessly scrolling through social media — and we all know how that goes. What I really want is just a way to productively fill that time and engage my mind, and now I have an eBook on my phone (thanks to the library again!) that can fill the gap. It’s usually a fairly light read. It might be fiction or nonfiction, but it’s typically something that leaves me feeling happy.
Book 4: The Family Read-Aloud
I firmly believe that you’re never too old for a read-aloud, and my kids love hearing books out loud. We usually have one family-friendly read-aloud going, and there are some fantastic YA novels out there that have been great bonding moments for my tween daughter and me.
Book 5: The Long Walk Audiobook
I can’t listen to audiobooks unless I’m moving. If I’m not doing something physical to distract me, my inner monologue just drowns out the book, but on a long walk, I can really get lost in a complex narrative. I usually reserve this slot for beautifully written novels with some suspense.
Book 6: The Housekeeping Audiobook
The other time I can listen to audiobooks is when I’m cleaning the house. I know I’m probably going to get interrupted now and then, so I try to avoid books that I really want to get lost in. This is a great time for lighter nonfiction, business books, and informative reads with pretty distinct chapters.
If you normally only read one book at a time, why not mix it up a bit? You may find that your reading habits are a lot more enjoyable when you have options that fit your mood and situation.