Multi-Reading: Tips for reading multiple books at once

The titles from right to left: THE CANTERBURY TALES, GERALD OF WALES, THE WOMAN IN WHITE, THE SLIPPERY ART OF BOOK REVIEWING, THE FOREST FOR THE TREES, and THE CELTS

The titles from right to left: THE CANTERBURY TALES, GERALD OF WALES, THE WOMAN IN WHITE, THE SLIPPERY ART OF BOOK REVIEWING, THE FOREST FOR THE TREES, and THE CELTS

I have always struggled with reading more that one book at a time. I can do it, but I find my mind stretching to remember all the events, ideas, and themes of each novel/article/whatever. There are people, however, that read multiple books  at the same time for pleasure, like Leigh Kramer who writes a blog about reading an astounding EIGHT books at once! A round of applause for you, Leigh.

Keren Threlfall argues that reading multiple books at once, “…keeps material fresh and new” and three to five books at the same time is about perfect. I admire that so much, but I haven’t figured out how do it!

While in college, you need to read many things at once. It is a necessity. No matter your major, different classes force you to constantly be reading different novels, articles, textbooks, websites, who knows what else.

And it matters because I want everything I read to make an impact. I want all of the novels I read for school or fun or just for knowledge to matter. To sink in. For that to happen, I need time to read them.It doesn’t help that I am a slow reader by nature.

I have a few tips on how to read more than one book at a time that I have discovered through much trial and error.

1. Make them as different as you can.

The more different the genres are, the easier it will be to separate them in your mind. Fantasy vs. Nonfiction. Young Adult Fiction vs. Biographies. Male Main Characters vs. Female Main Characters. Novel vs. Play. Pairing books in this way will not only help you keep them straight, but provide a nice break between genres. If you’re getting tired of one genre, you have another one to go to for a reprieve. Sometimes, books for classes aren’t that varied. Do the best you can. Divide British authors and American authors, get creative!

2. Schedule certain days to read certain books.

Collegiate life requires a planner. At least, it does for me.I know there have been times I am in 3 different literature/English classes that all require a tremendous amount of reading. It can be daunting. Dedicate a few days out of the week for specific reading materials.

A sneak peak at my unorganized organization method.

A sneak peak at my unorganized organization method.

Maybe Monday and Wednesday you read that one novel. Tuesdays and Thursdays you read that one play. And the weekends you can dedicate to that book you really want to read for fun or that other novel you’re supposed to be reading. Or maybe that journal article. Sometimes, there is no room to schedule out reading like this, and you just have to wing it. You must make time for it though. If you don’t, you’ll drown.

This method was helpful for me because, first of all, this keeps you organized. Unless you are one of those people who can be disorganized and happy. That’s fantastic, and I’m jealous. Second of all, this helps you block out time to read. Really a life saver.

There are a lot of scheduling softwares and tools out there for you, but my favorite? A good old paper planner and pencil. Works every time.

3. Mix excitement and boredom.

This tip requires a lot of self-discipline. Pairing up a book that you are excited to read with a book that is super boring is a great way to balance things out. BUT. You have to stick to your schedule. Read the exciting book, and prolong the anticipation/love affair by getting a little on the side from a boring one. But you must actually read the boring one.

These three things have helped me master the art of reading an astonishing TWO books at the same time. Look, it’s an accomplishment. Just be happy for me.

If you have any more tips, please comment. I would love to get up to three books at the same time by the end of the year.

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