Reading Journal (June 4): Reading More Than One Book at a Time

As you may have noticed, I had a lot to say about Julius Caesar the other day. That is partly because I spent about five days reading it and commentary, and listening to it, and really immersing myself in it. I loved the experience, and I realized that that’s the experience I want with all my books.

But I don’t think I’m a one-book-at-a-time girl. I’ve been reading The Arabian Nights and no other book for the past five days, and I’m ready for something different. Maybe I’ll do five days rotation or something. All my current books are rather long, so taking breaks may be the way to do it.

Are you a one-book-at-a-time reader? Do you ever tire of a book that you are enjoying and want to switch to another book for a few days?

I’m curious how one-at-a-time readers stay so dedicated to the concept. I can’t do it.

My other problem is that, while I’d like to read The Forsyte Saga, which I own, my other two books will be due at the library. I hate it when libraries dictate what I have to read!

Do you change your reading schedule based on library due dates?


Tomorrow I will post my review for the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle Treasury, and I just finished listening to 1984 (a love-hate book). Also, I finished the first book, A Man of Property, in the Galsworthy’s Forsyte Saga. (FYI: The Forsyte Saga is a compilation of the first three books in a nine-book series; therefore, there are two comparable books in the entire Forsyte Chronicles). I enjoyed Man of Property and I have lots of thoughts about it. I intend to write a post about it.

I’ve also made progress on Arabian Nights, and I’m really enjoying it. They remind me strongly of the fairy tales of the Brother’s Grimm, although, again, they certainly are not children’s stories!

I didn’t make any progress on Clash of Civilizations this week, and I’ve only made my “daily progress” on Uncle Tom’s Cabin. (I usually read more than one installment every day, but I haven’t been this week.)

I really enjoyed the time during which I concentrated on Julius Caesar, and I think I’m going to copy that concentration as I read and review my other books. I realize that my post was so long that most people probably lost interest, but I feel that most of the books I’ve been reading deserve that concentration, and I certainly learned more by writing up my thoughts so comprehensively.

Do you ever feel the pressure to read faster so you can blog about your books?

Even at the risk of losing readership, I’ve decided I’m not going to force myself to read faster. I should be doing this for myself anyway, right? I could lie to myself and say “I don’t care if anyone reads my blog,” but I know that’s not true. I appreciate each and every one of your comments. Thanks for reading or skimming, even when you don’t comment.

In the middle of these other books, I’m also going to read two other, shorter books: Chicago Poems by Carl Sandburg (which is for the “Local to you” Bookworms Carnival) and The Alchemist (which is for my in-real-life book club). I suspect that I should be able to read those fairly quickly, especially since I’ve been reading such dense books lately!

Currently Reading

My Books

  • The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy (360 read of 900 pages; fiction)
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (via, about 41% finished, estimated finish date of August 18)
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (200 read of 750 pages; children’s fiction) currently on hold

Library Loot, Old

  • The Arabian Nights translated by Husain Haddawy (100 read of 425 pages; fiction).
  • The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order by Samuel P. Huntington (100 read of 340 pages; nonfiction).
  • Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation by Cokie Roberts (audiobook, on disk 1 of 6; nonfiction). I realized after I began listening that is is “unabridged selections.” I have no idea how much of the original has been excised.

Library Loot, New

  • Chicago Poems by Carl Sandburg (80 pages; poetry).
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo (208 pages; fiction).
  • Robinson Crusoe adaptations: I currently have about ten adaptations and/or abridgements of Robinson Crusoe that I’m comparing.

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

  1. I do sometimes feel I should post every day, but I think I’m getting over that. 🙂 Readers of our blogs differ in that opinion as much as the bloggers themselves. Some love daily posts, some thing “Enough already! Don’t you have a life?” I stick with you either way! 🙂


  2. (1) I have read more than one book at a time, but I focus on a single work most of the time, simply because I get more out of books when I am not distracted by other books. Most of the books I set aside are non-fiction, which are easier to get in and out of than a novel with a complex or deep plot.

    (2) I have a lot of library books. Freakishly many library books. Fortunately, the Brooklyn Public Library has a great renewal policy – I can renew any item up to 25 times if it is not on hold for someone else. So, in theory, I can keep a book for almost a year and a half. But in practice I renew my entire cache once a week, so I can figure out if any books are, in fact, on hold. This strategy gives me at least 2 weeks to read books that will have to be returned. I think my system works pretty well; every month there are about 2 books I read on deadline, and the rest of the time I get to choose from a mini-library of library books.

    (3) I am a streaky poster. I’ve gone through periods where I have had easy and quick reads and I’ve posted a book review a day. I’ve gone through periods where I don’t post reviews for days because I’m stuck on a particularly lengthy or difficult read. That’s fine with me – I blog mostly for myself, though I enjoy dialogue with others. And I think the book / lit blogosphere is especially forgiving of bloggers who go AWOL for a few days. The situation is different in other blogging realms – a personal finance or social networking or business / politics / technology blogger pretty much has to post every day unless they have absolutely spectacular content. That’s why I got burned out and left my personal finance blog and started to blog about reading instead. 🙂

    (PS) I am so impressed by your immersive approach to Julius Caesar. I wish I could force myself to do the same, but at the moment I feel like there are so many good books that I need to read before I die, I feel guilty for lingering too long on any one work. Perhaps that’s not the right approach, and maybe I’ll feel better once I whittle my TBR list below triple-digits.

    (PPS) I am anxiously awaiting your thoughts on The Alchemist and the Robinson Crusoe adaptations. I did not like the Alchemist, which I think puts me in the minority; and I read Robinson Crusoe unabridged and disliked all but a small part of the book (the passages describing his religious … enlightenment, I guess would be the right word). Maybe if I read an adaptation or abridgement I would have liked it better? (Or hated it even more?)

  3. I often read more than one book at a time for several reasons. The main one is that I like to read in the bath, so if I start reading a hardback or valuable book I have to find a cheap paperback to take into the bath with me!

    I also often read something light to mix with things you really have to concentrate on, as it isn’t always quiet in my house!

  4. I have grown accustomed to reading more than one book at a time. It provides some variety, and there are some books that feel better read slowly. So, I will read a slower book, with X number of pages per day, and then read faster books like my YA ones when I’m not reading the slower book.

    I think my problem is that I read so fast I have a hard time not posting daily…

  5. I used to be a one book at a time reader but I’m not anymore. I definitely read to a deadline most of which are library due dates and book club selections. I must admit that it’s an entirely self-imposed pressure. Sometimes I wonder why I do that to myself.

  6. I think I’ve said this before, but I’m definitely a one-at-a-time reader. I become utterly engrossed in what I’m reading, and I just can’t fully give myself to a book if I have other things (like other books!) on my mind. If I were to try to juggle many books at once, inevitably one would capture my interest above the others and I’d read it hungrily.

    Regarding library books, it’s bad, but I don’t visit the library that often, so it doesn’t affect my reading material all that much. But when I do take out books I do tend to prioritize those books… but if for some reason something I took out no longer strikes my fancy once I get it home, I’m ok with returning it unread. I figure it’ll always be there for me in the future.

    I have noticed that my reading ebbs and flows over time – sometimes I find myself rushing through books because I need to get a post up, but I hate when that happens. Whenever I feel that I’ve become too attached to my blog (and that it’s dictating my reading rather than being a reflection of it), I remind myself that it’s great to have readers, but I blog for myself. I write the entries that I do in order to keep a log of what I’ve read and how I felt about – if anyone else enjoys it, that’s just a bonus. If a week goes by and I don’t feel like reading or writing, I have to be ok with that, because as much as I love to read, there are plenty of other things I enjoy as well. It’s all about keeping a balance and not becoming a slave to your blog!

  7. It’s funny–I can never figure out how the book jugglers do it. How do you decide which one to read when? I’m kind of like Steph in that I just get involved in whatever I’m reading and I can’t spread that involvement around. Sometimes it means a long time between posts, since I mostly just do review, but having a shared blog helps with that. It would be strange if both Jenny and I went for a week without finishing something that we want to write about.

    I do usually have an audiobook on the go and a book of short essays or stories, as well as my “main book,” but those are for specific situations when I can’t read my main book. Audio is for the car, and short pieces are for the breakfast table or other times when I need something that I won’t get too immersed in and be unable to put down.

  8. Good grief! I I were reading Forsyte Saga and Uncle Tom’s Cabin at the same time, I’d through in a couple of shorter reads to liven things up!

    I always have several books going at the same time. I generally have one audio book for in the car, on walks, and folding laundry. Then I have at least one other book to read at home. If it is a nice paperback that I don’t want to get beat up, then I also have a hardback or knock around paperback that i can take with me to the gym or when I travel. Then I always have a coffee table book that I am working my way through in fits and starts because I have the idea that they are there to be read, not just to sit there. And, finally, there are always 2 or 3 books that I never seem to finish but never try to.

  9. Lezlie, I don’t mind people who post every day if they are saying something other than “sorry I’m really busy have nothing to post today bye!” Not a fan of that.

    Lily, I get more out of the book if I’m not distracted, hence the Julius Caesar in depth post. I know my TBR will never be below triple digits: the books in the world is my TBR pile, mostly. So I figure I won’t be rereading most of these ever so I should read them right the first time. That is seriously an awesome library policy! Wow. I’d hate to be waiting for a book. I guess I’d have to put holds on books that aren’t in just out of practice because it would never be returned.

    I did love Robinson Crusoe so I approached the adaptations a bit wary. Some are winners and some are loosers so far…

    Jackie, I think my current problem is that nothing I have it light right now! Except for the two books I just picked up from the library. That should help.

  10. Amanda, you do read fast. I’m amazed by how many books you’ve ready already this year. You’re going to surpass 200 at this rate. I’ve tried the number of pages a day trick, but I just get into the story and then the next day don’t feel like reading it or I’m craving a different book. It’s weird.

    Natasha, I think challenges are the same kind of thing: self-imposed pressure. We must like it subconsciously!

    Steph, I am really impressed that books that engross you always end up being “read hungrily.” I’ve been doing that for the past few days with The Arabian Nights and I’m still only on page 100. I must be a slow reader. And after 100 pages, I’m ready for a break for a few days.

    What you say about blogging is exactly what I try to do. Really, this shouldn’t be my life, and it isn’t. It’s just so much fun to get comments and hear from other people!

    Teresa, Book juggling is pretty simple: I guess one night I think “I feel like reading my 1930s classic” and the next night I think “I feel like reading my nonfiction book” and the next night I think “I feel like reading The Arabian Nights” and pretty soon I’m part-way through three books. It sounds like you have do have more than one book going to0, so it’s kind of the same — just on a larger scale.

    Rose City Reader, yes, I’m realizing that it’s the density of my current reads that is making me a bit bogged down. Glad to hear I’m not the only one with lots of books in progress around the house. I agree about coffee table books: they are meant to be read. It’s disappointing how many of them have horrible editing, though…

    I’m curious, have you read Forsyte Saga?

  11. I will focus most of my time and energy on one book but I will also have a few others that I am reading here and there when for whatever reason I’m not (or can’t) be reading it.

  12. Do not force yourself to read faster on your reader’s account – reading is pleasure and enjoyment and it should stay like that.

    I personally only read one book at a time. I have to read so much for Uni on the side (such as short stories, poems etc.) that it gets hard to focus on more than one major novel. I already tend to mix up characters in class. So, I stay dedicated to one-book-at-a-time to make it easier for my already confused mind. And the only books I tire of are the must-reads for Uni, never the ones I choose for myself. Lucky me.

    And I know Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a slow read – but it’s worth it. So hang in there!

  13. pussreboots, that’s kind of the ideal, I think. I just have to decide which book to focus on right now! I like them all.

    Susi, that’s what I’d love to do: read for my own enjoyment. If I were at uni, my reading would be much different! I think I may take a break from Uncle Tom. I really am enjoying it, but I should give it the concentration it deserves!

  14. I used to think I was a fast reader until I started reading other bookish blogs :-)! Maybe I am, relatively speaking.

    I tend not to borrow too many books from the library because even with renewals I end up having to return many of them unread.

    I do read more than one book at a time–but they tend to be different types. As opposed to reading more than one novel at a time, I usually read one novel, one non-fiction, one anthology (such as short stories or poetry). But not much more than that.

    I like your blog the way it is, and enjoyed the in-depth post on Julius Caesar.

  15. Valerie, I think blogging makes me feel the need to read faster! oh well. I feel the same way about the library — I hate returning books unread — but I check out lots of books anyway! It’s addictive.

    Thanks for reading!

  16. I agree with VALERIE. but I will often start a great book such as ‘The Greatest Story Ever Sold” (yes that is “Sold.”) by Frank Rich, a NY times Columnist, about the lies in the Bush administration leading up to 9/11 and after. But then I’ll put it aside and think about it while reading another book. Then go back to it. I NEVER hurry through great writing. It’s not as if we are winning a third grade reading competition who read the most books in a summer! HA! It’s for our enjoyment AND learning about our world, ourselves and others out there.

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