Discussion: Reading Two Books at Once

I said this would be probably a post about The Handmaid’s Tale, which I figured I would finish soon this week. Well…I completely underestimated how little time I had with all the graduation festivities. Also, when  Some Kind of Happiness came in the mail, I started it, too, because I wanted to read the beginning and see what it was like. So, now that I’m reading two books at once, I’ve got a new topic!

I usually avoid reading two books in the same format at once. When I do read two books at the same time, one is usually for school and is read at a different speed and is associated with “homework” (aka, I won’t have to choose between the books in my free time), or it’s an audiobook that I listen to during times when I can’t read a normal book. In the few times where I do read two novels, one of them is usually shorter than the other (like a short middle grade book).

I’ve also tried reading a poetry collection at the same time as other books (a few poems every day), but I often forgot about it and it took me forever to finish (it didn’t help that the collection wasn’t really centered around subjects I was interested in). Still, when I hear of others reading two books at once, they’re often different genres/markets: a novel and a short story collection, a novel and nonfiction, a novel and an essay collection.

But the problem I’ve found is that, aside from when I have to read a book for school, the books just seem to go more slowly. It feels inefficient. I have to constantly choose between which to read, so I don’t feel fully immersed in one book and they drag on. It especially bothers me because for a long time, I planned my reading around a simple “book a week” schedule. That made me feel accomplished, but it was also limiting.

And yet, I think with more time on my hands this summer and beyond, I’ll be able to set aside time dedicated to one thing at a time. For instance, during the day I could read the novel, and then before bed I could read one or two short stories or essays. This is especially important to me because I have several complete short story collections (like Poe and Lovecraft) that I will just never get to if I expect to read them all the way through.

I think I’m going to focus on and finish off The Handmaid’s Tale before continuing Some Kind of Happiness, and then I really do want to start George Orwell’s essay collection!

What about you? How do you read multiple things at once, if all?


Published by Olivia Anne Gennaro

Writer. Storyteller. Reporter. Podcaster. Nerd.

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