Reading styles: Are you a traditionalist or a multitasker?

By Katharine Swan On Thursday, September 09, 2010 At 11:25 AM

For a change of pace, I wanted to talk about an article I saw on NPR on Monday, about reading more than one book at once. If you have 15 minutes or so, listen to the story, maybe while you make your lunch. It's an interesting idea: Why do we feel we have to read one book cover-to-cover before we start the next?

I have to admit, I am pretty traditional in this respect. I don't often read more than one book at once, and I don't even particularly like to "quit" once I start reading a book. Sometimes I'll force myself to read it all the way through, even if I'm not enjoying it.

When I was in college, though, I'd always be reading many books at once. As a literature major, the more lit classes I had, the more books I was reading — sometimes more than one at once for one class! Plus I always had something I was reading for pleasure (though I finished those novels much slower when I was reading a lot of books for classes).

I never had any trouble keeping them straight, yet since I graduated, I've still returned to thinking of it like a violation of some rule if I read more than one book at once. I recently read a couple of short stories (ebooks) while I was reading other books, and even that felt a little like I was pushing the envelope.

What about you? Do you regularly read more than one book at once? As writers, we have to be good at multitasking, but do you make use of that skill in your leisure activities — or are you a rigid traditionalist about reading one book at once, like I am?


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Anonymous Mridu Khullar Says:  

I guess I'm not a traditionalist in the typical sense. I only read one book of fiction at once, because I can't handle too many. I read one novel and one non-fiction book at the same time though, and I've now added audiobooks as well. So I'm currently on three books-- fiction, non-fiction, and one audiobook.


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Katharine Swan is a full-time freelance writer with more than 5 years of professional writing experience. In addition to maintaining several personal blogs, she writes a variety of online marketing materials for clients, including company blogs, articles, and press releases. In her free time, she spends time with her horse, reads, and writes fiction.

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