Reading Two Books At Once – Yay or Nay?

So, after having blogged about a reading slump last week, I’ve only made the situation worse for myself. Over the weekend I finally picked Stephen King’s Full Dark, No Stars off my bookshelf, and thinking it was a collection of short stories, started with the first page. Full Dark, No Stars is not a collection of short stories. It actually is a collection of four novellas, and the first one, the one I started, 1922, is 133 pages long.

I haven’t finished Embassytown yet.

I’ve always steered away from reading two books at once. I’ll take a break to read some short stories or graphic novels when reading a book, but I never liked the idea of having two ongoing unfinished narratives in my head at the same time. But I’m doing it now –  I don’t plan on giving up on Embassytown, and 1922 is really gripping, so I’m going to juggle them.

I’ll report back with the results, presumably next week, but in the meantime, do any of you read multiple books at once? Or do any of you decidedly not read multiple books at once?

10 Responses to Reading Two Books At Once – Yay or Nay?

  1. RamseyH says:

    Like Kristin, I’ll cross over between fiction and nonfiction, but I avoid reading two novels at once. Unless you count the time I tried to read Moby Dick unabridged, quit halfway through, then came back a year later and finished it off.

    And just because I’m anal like that… I think it’s “yea or nay” not “yay or nay.” Yea as in the archaic word for “yes.” Unless of course you mean “YAY! or nay?” :)

  2. I can’t read two novels at the same time, or I start mixing up the story details in my head. I do regularly have a fiction and non-fiction book going at the same time, though. It’s pretty easy to keep the two separate that way, especially because most of the non-fiction isn’t narrative. Good luck!

  3. Nathan Rudy says:

    I’ll read a few books at a time, but usually of different sorts. I’ll have a mystery, a biography, a science book, a religious book, etc. going at once. The mystery I’ll read quickly and the others I’ll work through.

    Oh, and comics. I like comics. :-) Peanuts, Doonesbury, FoxTrot, xkcd, editorial cartoons, etc., etc., etc. There’s always a few of them lying around I’m reading.

  4. Gilbert J. Avila says:

    There’s the kitchen table book that I read while eating (I can do that–my roomies know I’m strange), there’s the living room book, my easy chair book, and my bedroom book(s). I sleep with 5 bookcases.

  5. Teri Carter says:

    There is no better way to read a book … or, rather, books. Though I rarely read multiple books in the same genre. Right now I’ve got 4 going: a boy novel, a memoir, an family saga e-book, and Art Spiegelman’s Meta Maus.

  6. Emily Anderson says:

    As long as they’re in different genres I can. If they’re too similar they blend together. I never did until I started writing. Working on your own novel while reading a published work puts two different narratives in your head.

  7. Sarah Henson says:

    I can’t do it. Especially if I get wrapped up in a plot. I tried it once and ended up forgetting about one until I finished the other. Coincidentally, I’m currently in the middle of Full Dark No Stars”. I mean literally in the middle of it. I read the first two novellas, then a couple of different books, and when I finish my current one I’m going to go back to the other two novellas. I was in a reading slump myself and found that tossing in a couple of King’s novellas is a perfect way to climb out and get going again.

  8. Megan B. says:

    I have never read two narrative books at once. However, like Emily says above, if you are reading a novel while writing or editing your own, you still have two narratives in your head. If I didn’t read while I am writing, I would never get any reading done, so I am definitely in that boat.

    Still, I can’t imagine reading two narratives at once. For me, there is no point to doing so.

  9. Tricia says:

    I am almost always “reading” two books at once. I listen to a book in my car every day going back and forth to work and places and have an actual book I read at home or during lunch. There are also the times when I have three books going…my car, my leisure and books for work or a special project. The special project or work books need me to be in a place to concentrate without the interuptions of my little person. It’s a juggling act when it comes to my reading.

  10. Emily says:

    Oh yeah — multiple books for different reasons! The new Evanovich “Plumb” novel because she is one of my absolute favorite authors and I always drop everything else to read her new book. A LeCarre novel, Mission Song, because he is one of my favorites but that book is set aside for the latest from Evanovich. A wonderful new history, “Russia Against Napoleon,” because its part of my research.

    Also a few Christmas romance novels.

    As for keeping them straight — somehow it all works — and they are wildly different kinds of stories.

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