How Reading Multiple Books at Once Cured My Reading Slump

For much of the past few years, I usually only read one book at once. I rarely quit a book. I told myself it was about focus, that I could only fixate my reading energy on one story at a time. That kind of concentration was sure to help me finish books faster. And besides, sticking with one book for a while even if I thought it was blah or even awful would surely make me finish more books than if I abandoned them all. Once I was 20, 30 pages in, surrendering would mean I had lost those pages, possibly more than a tenth of a book. And if I wanted to read more, and if I wanted to come closer to reaching my Goodreads and personal reading challenge goals, giving up was not an option.

However, also for most of the past few years I have been in one gigantic reading slump. There were many factors that contributed to this. One would be the shift from reading for fun and pleasure into reading for work (or school). Suddenly, I went from choosing books based on whims and wanderlust to reading like a pro. It was my dream, to read for a living, but it also killed the fun.

But another factor would be that I just simply hadn’t found great books. Sure there have been some highlights—like The Goldfinch, I’ll Meet You There, and Freedom—but the overall tenor of my reading life has been a series of blahs since roughly 2014. So I was excited when I discovered a cure for reading slumps that has worked for me. Poor, neglected blog, the solution was simple: read more books at once.

One of the things that helped this was getting a Kindle. Technically, I got a Kindle Paperwhite for my mom for Christmas, but I wasn’t sure if she’d use it. I asked a few questions to gauge her interest, but it seemed like something she wasn’t really into. So I adopted the Kindle and downloaded a few books that wouldn’t be able to be delivered real fast (for example, the hardcover of Han Kang’s The Vegetarian was out of stock on Amazon, so I bought the Kindle edition). I’ve found that the Kindle is an especially good format for longer books and in particular nonfiction. I’ve been reading Sam Quinones’ Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic for months. Having it on my Kindle makes it easy to go just a few pages at a time. Plus, with the Kindle you can have multiple books going at once. I’ve found that being in the middle of a few books at the same time on your Kindle means there’s always something there as an option.

Sometimes the thought of starting a new book is downright terrifying. I get it, you get it, we all get it: shelf intimidation. Staring at your bookshelves, unsure what to read next but know you want something new, you get paralyzed by indecision. This used to be me back when I only read one book at a time. If I wasn’t loving the book I was reading, I fell out of love with reading, but I never felt like I could just start something new. When you have two, three, or more books going, you can hop along to different books rather than obsessing over the mental and emotional effort it takes to open a book and start on page one.

Now I’m sitting pretty. In this month alone, I’ve finished four books by reading multiple books at once. It’s one way to cure my reading slump for sure. Next time you find yourself stuck, ask if you’re stuck because of a reading slump, or you’re stuck because of the book you’re reading right now. And always know that breaking up with a book carries no shame. Indeed, sometimes it’s the only way to cure a slump.

Do you read more than one book at a time? Is it faster that way? Do you break up with books? Leave a comment below.

4 Comments

  1. Liz

    I used to be a completely monogamous reader. Not anymore…if I get bored or stumped in a book, I just pick up another one. I definitely read more this way and even though I feel a little guilty, it’s worth it. 😀

    • Sarah

      Liz, I love that spirit! 🙂 It’s totally worth it, and I get way more read now. I love having options so if I don’t love a book I’m reading it doesn’t mean I don’t have to stop reading.

  2. Bridget Ryan

    The only kind of double reading I can handle is reading one secular and one spiritual book simultaneously. Otherwise I can’t keep them straight! I admire that ability in those who can. I’ve never had a problem with a reading slump.

    Since they were created, I had always thought it would be cool to have a Kindle but never got around to getting one. Until I finally asked for one as a library school graduation present in 2015. Now that I have it, I can’t believe I waited so long! I love the instant gratification it provides. Although I still like print books better, I also use it when there’s a book I want to read but isn’t available at my local library, but I don’t see myself wanting to have it take up space on my physical bookshelf after I’ve read it – that way I’m not spending as much $$ on books I’m never going to read again.

    • Sarah

      Great observations, Bridget! I have recently been reading a lot of nonfiction at once, but I think I might keep it to one fiction and one nonfiction. Otherwise it is difficult to keep things straight.

      Yeah, I love my Kindle! I also prefer physical books, but there are some advantages. It’s good to have both as options! 🙂

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Welcome to Broke By Books, a blog by Sarah S. Davis, where the guiding mission is to spread a contagious love for reading through helpful, thought provoking, and enjoyable writing about books. Please join me in growing an inspired, engaged, and fearless reading life.

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