I am in a committed relationship with several very nice books right now, and I am not going to choose between one or the other. You cannot make me.
I don’t know when I first became a person who needed to have more than one book cracked at a time, but I think I could narrow it down to sometime in my college years. As an English major, I needed to be able to give equal love, or at least equal attention, to D.H. Lawrence, Lucille Clifton, and Shakespeare at the same time. It was worse in graduate school, where I threw more theory into the already toppling to-read stack on my desk.
Now, even though I’ve been out of school for years, I can’t stay faithful to one book at a time. Part of this is practicality (being in multiple book clubs, reviewing awesome ARCs and beta-reading for friends), but mostly I like the variety.
Book slumps are a real thing. When I finish a monstrously complicated, long, or heavy read, I feel an intense let-down. Some books are so deliciously satisfying or heartbreaking that picking up another book makes my stomach lurch a little. Just this year, I felt this way after Infinite Jest and The Underground Railroad. When I look back over my reading history from those times, though, I see the kinds of books I surrounded myself with otherwise and how quickly they buoyed me back up from the bottom. My follow-up (read partially concurrent to) Underground Railroad: Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl. Infinite Jest took me three months, during which time I also discovered and devoured V.E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic series, Tiny Pretty Things, Shrill, and a dozen more antidotes to David Foster Wallace. I loved every book I just mentioned, but I loved it especially when read in tandem with the others.
Picking Up a Second Book for the First Time?
There were moments where I admit, my concurrent reading selections might have been too similar or I lost threads of one book in another. A few things help me when I’m reading more than one book at a time:
- Having set times to read each book (a book for the commute, a book for lunch, a book before bed)– having the time cue is almost Pavlovian. I would hit lunchtime and be just as hungry for Taylor Jenkins Reid’s prose as I was my sandwich.
- Enjoying a book in each of a few formats (a book on the e-reader, a book on audio, a paperback).
This year was my most book-hungry in a long time, and I owe it to my unfaithful heart.
Are you a book monogamist? If not, what other tips do you have? Share below in the comments, because I’d love to hear them!