Discussion: “Wow! Every Time I See You, You Have a New Book.” – Conversations with Non-Readers


I always have the most interesting conversations with people about my reading habits.  Usually the conversations come about because most of the people I’m talking to aren’t big readers and even those who do read a bit can’t get over the fact that pretty much every time they see me, I’m not only reading, but I’m also rarely ever reading the same book.  Sometimes it’s fun to just let them think I’m some kind of super speed reader, but if they were to take a peek into my tote bag, they would discover the real secret, which is that I usually have two or three books that I’m working my way through all at the same time.


Reading more than one book at a time has pretty much been a life-long habit for me.  I majored in English Lit in college and continued my studies in grad school, so juggling multiple books at a time was a necessity.  I did drop back to one book at a time after I started working full time, but as soon as I started blogging, I went right back to my multi-book habits.  I use the same basic survival skills that I used in college too – just taking a few basic notes along the way so that I don’t get characters, settings, and the basic plot confused while I’m juggling multiple books.

Aside from baffling my friends and family with my “speed reading” talents, reading multiple books at a time serves actually two purposes for me these days:  1) It keeps my inner mood reader pretty happy because I usually choose the books from different genres, that way if I’m not feeling it for one of the books I have going, I can swap out and read a few chapters of something else, and 2) I use it as a multi-pronged approach to attacking my TBR.  How?  Because I always have a physical book (either a recent release or a backlist title), an e-book (either ARC or backlist), and an audiobook that is usually also a backlisted title.




Right now, for example, I’m reading a physical copy of The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy, an ebook of Salt to the Sea, and I just finished listening to the audiobook for Everything I Never Told You.  The attacking my TBR part still needs a bit of fine tuning because I tend to fail a little more with the ebooks.  My physical books are sitting there staring me in the face and Netgalley sends me those nice, regular reminders of what I need to read soon.  Those pesky ebooks though…they’re all nicely hidden away on my kindle so it’s out of sight, out of mind if I don’t make a conscious effort to keep track of them.  I’m trying to be better about that but, man, the struggle is real.  Darn Amazon and their awesome ebook deals! LOL!

So, where do you fall on the reading spectrum?  Are you a one-book-at-a-time reader or are you an all-the-books-at-the-same-time reader?

46 replies
  1. Lisa
    Lisa says:

    I’m normally a one book at a time reader simply because I always forget about my Kobo (eReader). Occasionally I have two physical books on the go at the same time. I really want to get into audio books though.

  2. Jonetta (Ejaygirl)
    Jonetta (Ejaygirl) says:

    I read two books at a time, one eBook and listen to one audiobook. I’m an exclusive eReader these days so a physical book is rare (though I like your rationale for your multiple book reading). I also find it difficult to be reading two books within the same genre at the same time. I did it once and it was too confusing. Right now I’m reading an historical fiction and listening to a contemporary romance. Loving the difference.

    Great question!

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      It’s definitely easier to do more than one at a time if they’re different genres. If I try two fantasy books at once, I usually have problems keeping things straight.

  3. Amber Elise @ Du Livre
    Amber Elise @ Du Livre says:

    I do the exact same thing! I have my kindle to read at night (typically eARCs) because of the built in light, then I have a physical book for the commute and lunch time, and finally I have my audiobook for the commute (when I can’t sit), when I’m walking or working.

    I don’t take notes though, I’m fair too lazy for that. I do make sure that my books are very different so that I don’t confuse myself. So on my kindle I’ve for YA Fantasy, I’ve got historical mystery for my audio, and a contemporary book.

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who does this, lol. Honestly, the main time I make the notes is if I have two from a similar genre going at the same time, especially fantasy.

  4. Tammy @ Books, Bones & Buffy
    Tammy @ Books, Bones & Buffy says:

    I tend to read one book at a time, so I can immerse myself completely. The only time I’ll grab another book at the same time is when I’m struggling with the first book, and then I might go back and forth. But mostly that confuses me😊

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      I do best with the multiple books if they’re from different genres. I think I’d get really confused if I tried to read two sci-fi at the same time.

  5. Tracy @ Cornerfolds
    Tracy @ Cornerfolds says:

    Hahaha! Non-readers just don’t get it! I also read multiple books at once, but usually one is an audiobook. They’re definitely always different genres though. Great post!

  6. Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight
    Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight says:

    I never had multi-book reading habits until I started blogging. I don’t think it ever even crossed my mind as a thing to do before lol. I still don’t do it often, but it is helpful sometimes to have a book for each format, and somehow it does help me get more reading done sometimes!

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      If I wasn’t such a mood reader, I probably wouldn’t do it as much either, although I’m enjoying adding the audiobooks into the mix more since they allow me to read at times when it’s not feasible to read either a physical or ebook, like when I’m driving.

  7. Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer
    Kimberly @ Caffeinated Reviewer says:

    😡These types of people piss me off. Just like the ones who look at your shelf and say, ‘Wow you read an awful lot of romance.” I look at bookshelf and see mostly horror, fantasy, dystopian and science fiction, turn and say, “Don’t read much do you?”

  8. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction
    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction says:

    I used to always ONLY read one book at a time, but I’ve gone totally off the rails now, and I have like five going for no good reason.

    First off, I’m listening to an audiobook. (My son rides in the car with me sometimes and he loves to listen to my audiobooks with me, but he only gets snippets. He’ll often say, “Wait is this ANOTHER book?” I go through them fast!)

    Then I’ve got one ebook that I was about halfway through but then I had to stop to pick up a book for a blog tour and I never got back to it. Need to do that soon! Another ebook I was reading for a tour but realized it wasn’t going to get the requisite four stars for me to post it on my blog and took a breather from it (I still want to finish it though). Now I’ve started a THIRD ebook that released this week, so I want to get my review up ASAP. Sigh.

    Oh, and I’m reading a physical book along with my daughter, who got to pick a free-choice book to read for school and I happened to own the one she chose and figured I’d read it with her.

    So, yeah, I can relate. 🙂

  9. sjhigbee
    sjhigbee says:

    Great article! I generally only ever read one book at a time – but for me it’s the opposite problem. My Kindle has pride of place beside my bed, while my physical paperbacks are consigned to the spare room for safety reasons… It’s not cool to crush a small grandchild when my teetering TBR pile finally succumbs to gravity. So they are the books that are neglected:)

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      Oh yes, if my physical books were stashed away out of sight, I’d be in big trouble because I’d never give them a second thought, lol.

  10. Grace @ Rebel Mommy Book Blog
    Grace @ Rebel Mommy Book Blog says:

    I like to have on audio and one book (ebook or physical) going at a time. They need to be two different genres generally for me to keep it all straight. I can’t do any more books than that at a time though. I will tend to pick one and stick with it.

  11. Angela
    Angela says:

    For most of this year, I had two books going at once – a physical book and then an audiobook in the car. Usually the audio book was a memoir or a kids’ book that didn’t require me to pay super close attention!

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      Yes, I’ve been loving adding those audiobooks into my routine, especially for contemporaries, which are pretty easy to follow along with and keep track of.

  12. Alicia @ A Kernel of Nonsense
    Alicia @ A Kernel of Nonsense says:

    I am a one-book-at-a-time kind of reader, but I’ve always wanted to be able to juggle multiple books at the same time. I can’t even start a new book without first reviewing the previous one. This method had both pros and cons. I keep hearing the way to go is to pick up multiple genres and different mediums. May try again someday. Great discussion.

  13. Helena @ The Life of a Booknerd Addict
    Helena @ The Life of a Booknerd Addict says:

    Ok, so this is funny. 😆 Because for the first time, ever, I am reading 3 books at the same time.😱 I read a post somewhere (forgot who it was from or else I would have linked it) that if you read different genres you should be good. Since I been gone I have so many books I want to read and I figured I’d give it a shot. I’m reading a sci-fi, fantasy, and a Mystery and I’m happy to say that so far so good, 😊 I’m loving it!

    Hope you have a lovely weekend ahead. 💋 xoxo

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      Different genres works well for me. I think I would get totally lost if I tried to do two fantasy or sci-fi reads at the same time, lol.

  14. bookworm
    bookworm says:

    Great post 🙂 I tend to read one book at a time, but I will stop one book and pick up another, then go back to the first once I’m finished with the second if I’m on a time constraint review-wise. It’s funny how non-readers tend to be surprised when they see I’m always reading something. Happy reading, I like the Papa Smurf gif 🙂

  15. Sam@wlabb
    Sam@wlabb says:

    It’s interesting to me that people are mystified, that one can read multiple books at one time. Don’t people watch several TV shows every week? And aren’t they able to remember the storylines until the next episode? I am always reading one and listening to one. I only read one book at a time, because I am always eager to find out how it ends.

  16. ShootingStarsMag
    ShootingStarsMag says:

    Oh, I do this too! I tend to read a few books at the same time, but definitely an e-book and a physical book. They tend to be different genres or age levels (one adult, one YA) so that helps me keep track, and I just keep going back and forth – if I spend too much time on one book, then I might start to forget about the other.


  17. Nicci @ Sunny Buzzy Books
    Nicci @ Sunny Buzzy Books says:

    I’m mostly one book at a time. I don’t really do audiobooks but I’m trying to make them work for me so when I do have one on the go, it’s different to what I’m physically reading.
    When I do read multiple books at a time, they’re always different genres – like a UF and a Contemporary romance. I couldn’t have two UF simultaneously on the go or two contemporaries. That’d bug my brain. 🙂

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      Oh yeah, it definitely has to be different genres. I think I would have a lot of trouble if I tried to read two sci-fi or two fantasies at the same time.

  18. Laura
    Laura says:

    I’m strictly a one book at a time reader, but that’s mostly because of my terrible memory! I can forget what’s happened in the book I’m reading whilst reading only one book, so I dread to think what I’d be like with multiple books. It sounds like you have a good system though, that works for you, and I imagine it’s much easier to get through books quickly when you have a few books on the go and can choose which ever one you’re in the mood for. If I decide I’m not really in the mood to read the book I’m currently reading it generally just means I’m going to procrastinate over reading it, which really slows me down! 🙂

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      It works well for me as long as I have different genres going at the same time. I know I’d forget everything and end up confused if I tried two fantasies at once.

  19. Jennifer Tar Heel Reader
    Jennifer Tar Heel Reader says:

    I used to have a physical book, a Kindle book, and audio going at one time, but now I have several going, and I don’t keep count. I try hard not to read more than one of the same genre at a time or it might get confusing.

  20. verushka
    verushka says:

    I am envious of you being able to read two different books, and listen to a third. I can read one (ebook or traditional one) and listen to a different one, but I can’t read two different ones. The formats make it eay to keep things separate in my head.

    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      It really is helpful. I feel like I’ve moved through a lot more books this year since I started adding audiobooks into the mix so that I can listen in the car and while I’m doing chores, etc.

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