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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