Reading Several Books At Once.

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“Stuck” is the word to use when all you can do to face your inability to cope with your several readings is goggle your eyes. Books of different shapes and languages are scattered around you, and they only accentuate your dilemmas about what to resume reading first. Is it this book in French by that very prominent sociologist, or is it this one in Arabic by this great Egyptian novelist, or maybe you should continue reading either one of those three English novels you started last week…

A Stuck Reader

Finally, you make up your mind and grab either one of those books. However, somehow, the words get blurry and the characters start jumping from one book into the other as if they were circus artists doing amazing confusing stunts! 

You might still want to focus. You’d probably start pondering about the merits of every book and author at hand for some minutes to make a final decision. But if you’re like me, you’d most probably just grab the remote and watch Mr. Bean, instead.

Is this really your idea of enjoying reading? If your answer is yes, then keep doing what you’re doing, and stop reading this post right now… NOW, I said. If your answer is no, then what follows might be helpful.

Hereafter are some pieces of advice you might want to consider:

                • Do not read several books at once:

Yes. I think that for people like myself, we just cannot commit to this kind of relationships. So my advice to you is to take it slow. One book at a time shall do you good.

What we need to understand is that we’re different, and so are our abilities. Reading several books at the same time is not a healthy practice for some people. Some others can do this but some others can’t. This doesn’t imply that my breed are stupid, or that people who can read many books at once are smarter, it just means that we have different skills and intelligences. So, don’t feel bad about it.

(What?… I heard that! And no, I’m not just comforting myself?)

After all, the only good thing about being able to read different books at once is that you can switch books if you get tired or bored. However, the cons of this practice outweigh this single advantage.

  • Do not mix languages:

If you’re going to read many books. Like, if you really really have to, make sure that they’re in the same language. Reading books in different languages at the same time is confusing, especially if you’re a fast reader in some language(s) but a slow reader in other language(s). You’ll make much more progress reading in the language(s) your fluent in, while you’d be lagging behind in the other language(s), which might stir some dissatisfaction and might, in some cases, lead to low self-esteem, depression and then, suicide. Just kidding, but you got the point!

  • Get time to read but don’t force yourself into it:

Make a schedule and try to stick to it. Choose the time of the day that fits you best and plan your readings accordingly. Some people prefer to read at nights, other people prefer to read upon waking up. Don’t forget to make use of your free time and weekends, too.

  • Prioritize:

Some things in life are more important than others, so are books. Start with the book which you have a strong and fresh desire to read, when you get tired of it, try the next book you’re looking forward to read. You should always have interest in what’s between your hands, otherwise, the reading experience would be ruined.

  •  “Prioritize” doesn’t mean ignore:

 If you leave a book for too long, you’d probably forget everything about it. Picking it up again would be kind of meaningless. Hence, if you feel that one of the books your reading isn’t as interesting as the others, leave it for another reading set, or just drop it altogether, but don’t feel compelled to finish it. This will only increase your anxiousness, and we don’t want that, do we? DO WE?

  • Use a timeline:

A notepad and a pencil would be very helpful. Track down the ideas, characters and events of the book. You can add your feelings, expectations and questions about the book. It’s also important to make sure to read your notes every time you want to resume reading, it’ll freshen up your memory and put you in the right mood for that particular reading.

  •  Read (a) whole chapter(s) every time:

Don’t stop in the middle of a chapter. If you do, you’d probably be lost when you resume reading. Think of this as watching a series, what would you rather do, stop watching at the end of the episode and wait for the new one, or stop in the middle of the current one?…There you go!

  • Real readers love challenges:

Eat you broccoli, finish your dish! If you start several books and don’t manage to complete anyone of them, the effect will be very counterproductive. So, go on and finish your books, at least some of them. The feeling is really satisfying, believe me. Remember that if you don’t, you’ll probably have a very low self-esteem, depression and might commit suicide. Just kidding again, but you got the point!

  • Join

Goodreads is a great reading carrefour. People write reviews and send updates about their readings. You can set up an annual goal and work on achieving it. A little competition would never hurt.

This, dear bookworms, is what I can think of for the moment. I’m sure you can have many other ideas on how to accomplish this task. So, please feel free to share them in the comment section. 

Happy reading, everyone!

19 thoughts on “Reading Several Books At Once.

    That Lonely Kid said:
    November 6, 2013 at 2:02 am

    I just finished reading the article .
    Good job Abdelmjid .. You’ve shown me the mistake that I’ve been doing that makes me drop reading books so fast ! I loved this part specially this part “Get time to read but don’t force yourself into it” Because it really shows me how i’m not organised when it comes to book reading time, and also about “Do not read several books at once” because i do have problems with reading many books at the same time which makes me unfocused in a certain book, About “Do not mix languages” Don’t have a problem with that Arabic sucks English rules, Join ( Dude are you doing Advertising thing just kidding ) I do have an account but still not using the website as it should be used .
    Well Again thank you so much for the article hope it helped others as much it helped me

      amseghir responded:
      November 6, 2013 at 2:03 am

      Oh that’s really great to hear, Ayoub! I’m glad you could benefit from it! Keep up the great work, bro!

    Marilyn Dryden said:
    November 6, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    These are great reminders. I have always had a collection of reading in process. Now that we have so many electronic choices, I find myself with a chaotic backlog of Audible books, Kindle books, paperback books and hardback books, fiction and non-fiction, English and Spanish books all partly read. I particularly like your idea of keeping a timeline or some basic notes to help me stay on track. Thanks for a very thoughtful post.

      amseghir responded:
      November 6, 2013 at 2:50 pm

      You’re welcome. I’m glad you found this post useful. Enjoy your readings!

    音楽恋人 said:
    November 7, 2013 at 1:14 am

    Good point! I never thought about it… I mean reading several books at the same time. I’ve always done that, especially when I read books whose subject matter is totally different, I think in this case you can handle it. It only starts to be confusing when you read books that treat the self-same subject. Another thing is that there are so many books to read and so many languages to learn and for a maniac philologist (taking the word in the literal sense) like me I lose all control to the point that I’m learning three languages simultaneously which is of course not very healthy but I can’t help it!

    One last thing, I’d like very much to recommand a few books (I’ve read lately) that I think you’d find exceedingly insightful:

    Debt by David Graeber (a member of occupy movement)
    The blank slate by Steven Pinker
    Big bang by Simon Singh (one of the greatest books about the origin of the universe and the histroy of cosmology)

    and finally two of my all time fave novels: Tess by thomas hardy & Voyage au bout de la nuit by Céline.


      amseghir responded:
      November 7, 2013 at 3:10 pm

      Thank you very much, 音楽恋人.
      I’ll try to read at least one of your book recommendations. 🙂

    Lynne Diligent said:
    November 7, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    Good article,and good suggestions, but I would like to leave a few comments.
    When reading for pleasure, there is no need to finish every book if you are not enjoying it. If you have purchased the book, you probably want to finish it to get your money’s worth out of it. You might want to force yourself to finish it if you have another reason for reading its, such as if a friend or acquaintance wrote it.
    Reading only one book at a time is kind of like saying you will only watch one TV program for a month or two. This may work for some people, but not for others.
    If you read multiple books at once, always use a bookmark. If you are picking up a book that you have set down for a while, if you re-read just the last few paragraphs before where you left off, it should recall immediately to mind the mental images you previously had, and you are set to go. If you find yourself still confused, you could go back a couple pages, or back to the beginning of a chapter. While it’s convenient leave off at the end of a chapter, this doesn’t always work, because good writing usually has a “hook” that entices you to turn the page to see what happens. What I recommend instead, is to leave off at the end of a scene within a chapter, if possible, or in a non-fiction book, at a point where the topic changes slightly within a chapter.
    Personally, I am usually reading about ten different books at once, as I keep them in different rooms around the house. I have about three I’m currently reading upstairs, and about ten others I’m reading or want to read in case I don’t feel like those three. I also keep several books and magazines in each bathroom (so no one in our family ever has to feel bored anywhere). Downstairs in my office I have about ten different books and in our TV room I have two or three by my chair. So it’s always a question of what I feel like at that moment, something will always be available. But I generally read about four complete books every month or finish about four books a month and keep a running list of which books I’ve finished, by month, which genre they are, and how I rate them (ok, good, excellent, poor, etc.) It gives me a great sense of satisfaction to look back at the end of the year, or future years.
    If you are fairly new to reading for pleasure, I think sticking to fewer books at once (maybe two or three at most), so that you actually finish them, would give you more satisfaction than reading ten books at once.
    Your article contains very good suggestions for many people. Thanks for writing it.

      amseghir responded:
      November 7, 2013 at 6:22 pm

      Thank you very much Lynne for the feedback. You made some excellent points out there. Of course, the reading experience differs from one person to the other. So, we can all come up with our techniques, yet there must be things that we all have in common.
      I loved the idea of scattering books all over the house. This is a great idea to entice people to read.
      Thanks again. 🙂

    SARITA said:
    November 8, 2013 at 12:49 pm


      amseghir responded:
      November 8, 2013 at 1:15 pm

      Thank you for passing by. 🙂

    Sara said:
    November 10, 2013 at 5:52 am

    You’re so right! , this actually does help a lot ! 🙂 Thanks Abdelmjid. Oh, and i can not understand how some people can stop reading in the middle of a chapter, i just can’t do it! hahaha even if the chapter is another 20 pages long, i have to finish it before i sleep! =P, Thanks again 😉

    Sara Moussali said:
    November 10, 2013 at 5:53 am

    You’re so right! , this actually does help a lot ! Thanks Abdelmjid. Oh, and i can not understand how some people can stop reading in the middle of a chapter, i just can’t do it! hahaha even if the chapter is another 20 pages long, i have to finish it before i sleep! =P, Thanks again

      amseghir responded:
      November 10, 2013 at 8:34 pm

      I’m glad you found this helpful. Keep up the good work, keep up reading! ^_^

    Aziz Qaissi said:
    November 17, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    ‘Reading is Heaven’ this is all I can say about reading.
    Indeed, many thanks should go to you Mr. Seghir for such great snippets of information on how to deal with several-readings.
    Reading at one level should be a habit, if it is so, then one can never be confused about what to read. Here I want to make it a point that choosing what book(s) to read is not that easy task to do. In contrast, there should be a good books chooser as the same as there is a good reader.

      amseghir responded:
      November 17, 2013 at 6:51 pm

      Thank you very much Mr. Qaissi for your valuable thoughts. I think I’ll write a post about how to choose books to read.

    Md.Jahangeer Alam said:
    November 18, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    the best idea to english speaking .

    casblomberg said:
    July 22, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    Good tips! I think these can be particularly hard to follow for some. I know for me, for the past four years trying to create a ‘schedule’ for anything that doesn’t revolve around toddlers or small children is absolutely impossible. It’s also impossible to set aside time for anything. If I want to read, I grab whatever is available during the 2 joyous minutes I’ve been granted on those miraculous occasions no one needs me for brief periods of time. I think parenthood, especially those first few years, has the ability to change reading habits for most people. I take what reading I can, when I can — at least until the kids are older =). Also, great tip about sticking to one language! I end up so confused when I start mixing Swedish books with English books. If they are all English, I can usually keep the storylines and characters straight.

      amseghir responded:
      July 22, 2014 at 11:10 pm

      Thank you Casblomberg for passing by.
      You’re an inspiration!

    Elhassouni said:
    April 12, 2015 at 10:24 am

    I read all the comments and iam really inspired. Many thanks for all to give many advices for Reading. Its help me to follow some of them. Many thanks

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