How To Read Multiple Books at Once

Sometimes, you simply have to read multiple books at once. Whether your schedule or your own voracious reading appetite demands it, literal double or even triple booking remains a necessary companion for many book lovers. I myself find that, for these next couple weeks, I’m definitely going to have to be juggling many reads, so I decided to vent about this by writing down some useful advice for people attempting to undertake similar mounds of reading in a similarly over-booked fashion. This has absolutely nothing, I repeat, nothing to do with the fact that my finals week is coming up. I’m totally prepared for that. Everything is fine, and no one (especially me,) needs to panic. Don’t panic…

Gah… panicking…

1.Prioritize Titles.

I gave advice like this in my entry about catching up on reading. This is to a similar but slightly different purpose. You’d do well to pick the titles that need to be returned to a friend or library first, or the text you need to write the most dangerously imminent paper about first, then stack your order accordingly. You may have to start by reading three books or so because this one’s due back soon, you’re book club’s meeting to discuss that one next week, and you just have to find out how this one ends.

As much as I try, I usually can’t help but let the books I like the most slip to the beginning of the list and get a disproportionate amount of focus. As long it doesn’t threaten my GPA, I usually let that happen. Really, even when it does, I usually cave to my favorites. Ideally, though, you really should evenly distribute the books you like most among all your other to-reads so you aren’t left with all the stuff you hate but have to read in one big, unappetizing lump at the end. Do as I say and not as I do in this situation, people, if you can.

2.Try to Separate Similar Reads

I never do this on purpose, but sometimes I find myself reading similar books either at the same time or one after the other. It gets me into situations where I blur the characters together then start to ask myself, “Wait, did this plucky young Victorian lady already refuse to marry the boring farmer, or was that the other one, and was it a farmer or a woodcarver?”

I mean, I guess sometimes you just get a taste for similar books, but it gets really inconvenient and eerie if you try to read too many similar books at once. By now, I’ve learned to try and avoid this, or take other later mentioned measures to at least make this less confusing.

3.Assign a Book Schedule

A really good way to not get all these books mixed up is set a schedule for them. That way, you start to associate each book with a a certain time or place. No matter how similar your books are, that should help you separate the story thread. “Wait, The farmer was in the morning commute audio book and the woodcarver was in the evening paperback. I’ve got this.”

Apart from that, it also helps with the favoritism bit. Making yourself devote a certain amount of time to each book you are reading gives books you don’t like so much a chance to actually get read. The human mind’s preference for patterns and routine is one of my only weapons against books I just have to read right now. “Oh, I’m really loving the chemistry between plucky Victorian lady and farmer guy, but gosh darn it if it just feels weird listening to that audio book when I know I’m not in my car and the sun is setting.”

4.Always Carefully Mark Your Spot.

Maybe this is just my own terrible memory, but I find that reading multiple books makes me lose track of my place in different books so easily. If I’m lazy enough not to put bookmarks on different pages, (which usually happens when I’m reading texts for school,) or accidentally skip around the tracks on an audio book, I can get lost and accidentally re-reading or hearing large sections of a book. I mean, usually with books I like I can stop myself and fix the error really quick, but with required reads that I can barely pay attention to anyway, I can usually barely tell.

For textbooks or other assigned texts, I usually mark my place to the very line, just to be sure, with post-it notes or even special bookmarks you can buy from office supply or book stores. I mean, if you’re going to be a serious bibliophile, you’ve just gotta have the right gear ready in your book nerd utility belt.

5.Try Taking Notes.

This seems like something you should do for assigned reads and textbooks, and I say should because I often don’t. What? I have to read three classical books about plucky Victorian ladies at a time and you want me to take notes on them all to? That’s too much you guys, too much.

Theoretically though, I’d be helped immensely by taking at least some notes on books I have to read for class. That theory may also extend to for-funsies books too, right? Not anything crazy, like you need to write a paper on them, but just bits so you can keep track of the plots and subtleties. Some books have really detailed summaries on Wikipedia, but others don’t and, honestly, I sometimes get lazy enough just to go “Well, that subplot probably wasn’t that important anyway,” when I can’t double check these things on Wikipedia. Taking notes might help.


Okay, I’m afraid that’s all she wrote. I have to read my midday poetry collection, and then definitely not start writing my final paper that counts as twenty five percent of my class grade. Any idiot would’ve started that way earlier than the weekend before it’s due. Bye now!


One thought on “How To Read Multiple Books at Once

  1. Good tips! I like the idea of assigning each on a different time in your schedule, but I’m not sure that’s something I could ever follow. One thing that helps me is I only have one book for each medium (one audiobook, one physical, one on my phone, one on my ereader). That helps me distinguish between them, because it’s, “I heard that part of the plot, I didn’t read it” or “I read that in line at the store so it must have been the book on my phone,” things like that which helps me remember.


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