How to Read Multiple Books at Once – The Ultimate Guide

As discussed in the previous post, reading multiple books can make your reading more engaging, and rich and allow you to tackle more books, but for it to work you need to do it correctly.

As a general rule, you should set aside about 3 books, that belong to different genres. It is helpful if these books are of different formats as well. Then you should consistently read every day and switch books whenever you feel like it.

Of course, there is a lot more to reading multiple books successfully – so read on to learn more.

How many books you should read at the same?

When you are just starting out it is recommended to pick up about 2 or 3 books. That way you will not be overwhelmed. As you go on and read more and more books you should see what number of books suits you the best.

PersonNumber of books
Elizabeth Filips110 books
R.C. Waldun22 books
Tamsien Wes34 books + 1 audiobook
Mark Manson43 books
jessethereader52-3 books + 1 manga / 1 graphic novel
Different famous readers and how many books they read at once

Some people love reading quite a few books at the same time, for example, Elizabeth Filips1, reads 10 books simultaneously, while others prefer to read 3 or 2 books at the same time, for example, R.C. Waldun2, reads 2 books – one that is difficult and another one that is slightly easier.

What kind of books you should choose when reading multiple books?

Multiple sources1,3,4,5 recommend choosing books that belong to different genres – that way it will be less likely for you to get mixed up between the different books. It is especially easy to mix up fiction books that belong to the same genre – e.g. two detective novels taking place in the Victorian era.

Furthermore, you should consider reading books in different formats e.g. an audiobook, a paperback, and one book on an e-reader. That not only it will be easier to separate the different books, but also you will have a chance to read or listen to a book wherever you are.

Lastly, you should consider choosing books that complement each other. As discussed in the previous article – one of the benefits of reading multiple books is that you can draw connections between the books and enrich your reading experience.

For example, if you are reading a book on bodybuilding you might consider reading a book on human muscles and anatomy – that way you will get more context behind how different bodybuilding exercises affect your body and muscles.

Of course, as mentioned, if you choose books that are very similar to each other you might get mixed up. However, this is more of an issue when choosing fiction books. When dealing with non-fiction books, the benefits of choosing books that complement each other often outweigh the disadvantages.

When you should switch books?

As a general rule, you should switch to a different book whenever you feel like it. This is the main benefit of reading multiple books – you do not have to force yourself to read a sad book if you want to read something fun at that time. By choosing a book based on your mood you will enjoy reading more, and, in turn, will read more.

With that being said, you shouldn’t switch books too often as switching between different tasks or books hinders productivity6. Generally speaking, when you sit down to read, it takes some time for you to warm up to the book until you begin really reading it. Therefore, we recommend spending at least 15 to 30 minutes reading a book before switching to another one.

For example, you could spend an hour in the morning reading a difficult non-fiction book. Then on your way to work listen to a phantasy audiobook. And when you go to bed read a detective novel on your e-reader.

Of course, this is just a recommendation. You should experiment and see what works for you the best. For example, Benjamin McEvoy (an oxford graduate and a bookworm) tends to switch through 10 or 15 books in a space of an hour and then spend some time focusing on his main read7.

One of my favorite things in the evening is to surround myself with a pile of books and what i’ll do is i’ll pick up one book, read through it for five, ten minutes, then i’ll put it down pick up another book, return that book pick another book. And i can go through 10 or 15 books in a space of an hour or two, in this fashion and i absolutelly love it.

Benjamin McEvoy – an oxford graduate and a bookworm7

How to stay consistent when reading multiple books?

To read multiple books effectively it is imperative to develop good reading habits. If you do not read consistently (e.g. you read only once per week or less), then it is very likely that you will not finish any of your chosen books or you will forget what you are reading about and it will not be very effective.

Therefore, you should make sure to read every day at least for a bit. To achieve, this you should make reading as accessible and as fun as possible. As mentioned you should read in multiple formats and have a book always handy. Put a book on your pillow, on your table, keep one in your backpack, have an e-reader with you, etc. Move reading apps like Kindle or Audible to the main screen of your phone.

Use multiple formats

Make sure that you read books that you think are useful and exciting to you. And if for some sort of reason you stumble upon a really boring or unappealing book – just stop reading it. If you want to read cheesy romance novels – go for it! Once you have developed a good reading habit you can begin adding more difficult books to your menu.

Furthermore, you should consider blocking out some time for reading. Maybe read every morning for about 30 minutes before starting your day, or spend 30 minutes reading during your commute, or spend 30 minutes reading before you fall asleep. Find the time and place that works best for you. You should even consider having a dedicated reading space if possible as that will make it easier to develop reading habits.

There is a lot more to be said about building a good reading habit, however, above are the key points. While having a good reading habit is not a prerequisite for reading multiple books, it will definitely increase your chances of success.

In fact, reading multiple books, and reading consistently complement each other, since as mentioned reading multiple books makes your reading more enjoyable and accessible, and, thus, makes it more likely that you will read every day.

Reference list

  1. Elizabeth Filips. The best reading skill no one ever taught you
  2. R.C. Waldun. What If Difficult Books Bore You? – The Two-Book System
  3. Mina & Maud. How to Read Multiple Books (At the same time).
  4. Mark Manson. How to Read Faster
  5. jessethereader. READING MULTIPLE BOOKS AT ONCE!
  6. Able. The switch cost effect: How task switching impacts productivity.
  7. Benjamin McEvoy. Literature I’m Loving Right Now (& Multiple Reads vs Slow Reading).

Danielius Korsakas

Has a BSc in Economics and currently is pursuing a double master's degree in very fluffy but interesting subjects. Loves learning and building stuff.

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