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5 Tips for Reading Multiple Books at the Same Time

Adiba Jaigirdar

Staff Writer

Adiba Jaigirdar is an Irish-Bangladeshi writer, poet, and teacher. She resides in Dublin, Ireland and has an MA in postcolonial studies. She is currently working on her own postcolonial novel and hopes that someday it will see the light of day outside of her computer screen. Twitter: @adiba_j

I’m often met with surprise when I mention that I have a few books going at once. Often followed by, ‘how do you manage it?’ and ‘don’t you get confused?’

The truth is, sometimes I do get confused. Though that doesn’t happen very often anymore. I’ve been juggling multiple books for so long now, that I’ve kind of gotten the hang of it! So here are a few tips to help you do the same:

1. Read different genres

This is probably the most important tip. Nothing will confuse you more than reading multiple books which have too many similarities. It also kind of defeats the purpose of reading lots of different books at once. You want diversity in your reading. You want to not get stuck on just one book or genre. So have a few going at once.

I’ll usually have at least three: One novel – any genre. One non-fiction. And maybe a poetry collection, short story collection, or graphic novel. Something that’s a bit faster, or that you can dip in and out of without too much of a problem.

2. Read different books at different places

My favourite place to read is in bed. But I don’t always get time to read in bed. If I do, it’s often for only a short amount of time before bed. It’s not very conducive to the full reading life I want to have. I do have a one hour commute every single day. So I’ve gotten into the habit of reading during my tram journey. But I often can’t read the same books in these two different places. I can read serious and heavy books in bed, but when I try to read them at 7am while squashed into a tiny tram seat, my eyes glaze over. So that’s resulted in me usually picking a quick, breezy light-hearted read during my morning commute. Something that perks me up for the day ahead! So make sure you choose your books based on when and where you’ll be best able to read them.

3. Read through different mediums

As much as I love reading my paperbacks, it’s not exactly the best way to read when I’m travelling. Or when I’m going to meet my friends and they are super late as usual, and I need some way to pass the time. Which is why my various books come in various mediums. I have the paperback or hardback which I reserve for at home reading. Then I’ll have a book on my Kindle for any commutes or general travelling. Maybe an audio book for when I’m out for a walk and need something to listen to.

4. Read for your mood – not for your TBR list

I think there are times when we tend to have a fixed idea about the books we’re going to read. Which is great – sometimes! Other times, it’s just good to go with the flow. If I start a book that I really want to read, and I feel myself running out of steam, I usually start a new one. It proves a good distraction for a short while until I’m ready to go back to the original book again. Just because we’re not in the mood for a book, doesn’t mean abandon ship ‘til who knows when. It can mean taking a short break. Or adding another list to your growing pile of ‘currently readings.’

5. Take all the time you need

Lastly, don’t freak out if you’re taking months and months to finish a book because you’re reading too many books at the same time! Sometimes it’ll happen. And sometimes you’ll find yourself reading too many books in the space of a really short time. It happens. The most important thing – always – is that you’re having a good time reading!