What Kind of Reader Are You?

How many books are you reading right now? One? Two? Six? Most people struggle to fit just one book into their free time, but some of us bibliophiles find ourselves with the opposite problem—too many books vying for our attention at the same time.

The Chicago Tribune book reviewer Julia Keller was on NPR on Monday to talk about poly-reading, a term I’d never heard before. Apparently, juggling multiple books at a time is called poly-reading, as opposed to serial-reading, which means you pick up a book and read it cover-to-cover before starting another. Keller recently wrote a column about how she frequently reads up to six books at a time because that’s her preferred way to read. It’s something she’s done since she was a kid, although she does say the serial reading seem quaint these days since “we live in a world of joyful multitasking.”

Maybe it’s because I suck at multitasking, but I really don’t like reading more than one book at a time. I prefer to give a book my full attention while I’m reading it. Especially if a book is really good—I just want to savor it uninterrupted before starting something else. To me, the sign of a good book is that I’m thinking about it even when I’m not reading it, and I can’t do this when I’m distracted by another book (or five!).

Now the exception to this is audiobooks, which I occasionally listen to even though I’m reading a different book. This is partly because they just take me so long to finish and partly because it’s a lot easier for me to keep two stories separate if one is an audiobook. Still, for me, this isn’t really ideal because I feel like I’m cheating each book of my undivided attention. I guess that makes me a monogamous reader at heart :)

So what kind of reader are you? Poly or serial?

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  • http://bookbitesoz.blogspot.com/ obsidiantears83

    I am totally a bookwhore. I can’t read just _one_ book at a time. I normally have between 6 and ten going, with two main ones that I concentrate on any one time. I currently have 5 books that I am reading. One is being frantically read for one of my book clubs on Saturday, the others are all about halfway through. I have different moods, and my reading selection reflects that. I might read a juicy Lora Leigh if I want something light that doesn’t require me to think too hard, a classic or two, the latest PnR or UF new releases and another few various from series I am reading. That is the general makeup of my “still reading it” pile. It helps that I read quicker than most. If it took me a week to read a generic paperback I doubt I could read so many books at once.

  • http://www.serendipityinthestacks.wordpress.com Meg

    I’m definitely a serial reader. I’ve never been able to read two books at the same time, unless one of them is a collection of short stories or essays with definitive stopping points. I’d rather savor one novel at a time before moving on to the next – which leads to a very, very large “To Read” list!

  • http://amckiereads.wordpress.com Amy

    It really depends for me… oftentimes I’ll have an ebook, audiobook and real book going at the same time, and sometimes more than one paper book, but usually just one. I find I will read a bit of a few books until I find the one that clicks for me and whatever mood I’m in and then I’ll read it straight through. Then I’ll go back and pick up one of the others wherever I left off. So I am partway through a lot of books at the same time, but only seriously reading one, if that makes sense!

  • David

    I am generally a one book guy, therefore having the same problem as Meg…a VERY large ‘to read’ list.

    Like you Kristen, I like to think about the book when I’m not reading it and get lost in the story!

  • http://www.daemonsbooks.com Amie

    I’m a poly-reader :)

  • http://www.daemonsbooks.com/author/sandie/ Sandie

    Great question!

    Ok here’s the deal. Technically I’m a poly ready, but I usually like to read one book at a time. That said I will start reading comic books while still reading the book, because to me they are two different things, so I don’t mind switching back and forth.

    And on occasion I might start reading another book even though I’m already reading one, but that’s only if the first one is a little boring. :-)

  • http://www.daemonsbooks.com/author/kristen Kristen

    I want to thank everyone for sharing! It’s so interesting to see how everyone approaches reading in different ways.