Confessions of a Book Polygamist

Book Polygamy: “Reading several books at one time without being able to commit to just one of them.” – NYC writer Michael B.

I discovered this phrase in an article by Rita Meade (@ScrewyDecimal) on Book Riot: Made up words for literary experiences

I used to believe that reading multiple books at once was some sort of literary sin. It felt wrong to read more than one book at a time. I refused to pick up a new book before I had finished the one I was currently reading, believing that it was a form of book adultery, that I would be “cheating.”

That all changed when I realized that as a self-proclaimed book worm, I needed to make more time for reading in my life. Enter, the audio book.

I began my foray into book polygamy when I discovered the joy of listening to audio books and realized it added nearly an hour of reading time to each day. But I only read audio books while I’m in the car, which left me craving a book to read before bed or while curled up on the couch in the evening. And so, I began listening to an audio book on my commute and reading another book, at the same time.

As it turned out, reading two books at once wasn’t so bad after all.

I started juggling three books at a time when I was reading a book that was too big to fit in my purse. I began leaving it behind because it was too heavy to drag back and forth to work everyday. Instead of reading on my lunch break, I passed the time playing games on my phone.

What kind of “avid reader” would I be without a book to take with me everywhere I went? Moments spent waiting at the doctor’s office which could have been spent reading, I wasted by checking Facebook.

I needed a book that was portable, one that I could easily fit in my purse for lunchtime reading. The solution: my Kindle. It is lightweight, and perfect for taking advantage of those found reading moments.

Now, I am never without a book in my purse, another on my nightstand and an audio book loaded up in my car’s CD changer.

I am almost constantly reading two to three books at once. When I’m not, I seem to fall behind on my reading. I don’t know how I would meet my reading goals without reading several books at the same time.  I’m not sure why I resisted the temptation for so many years.

So there you have it. I am a book polygamist and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

What is your take on reading multiple books at the same time, is it a literary sin? Are you a monogamous reader or  a book adulterer like me?


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11 thoughts on “Confessions of a Book Polygamist

  1. Here I was thinking I was alone. I have a similar routine to you. I have an audiobook for the commute, a book by the bed and one for travel. I try to keep my reading to two at a time, but three is more common.

    My wife finds it impossible to read more than one at a time. She is always asking which book I am reading at the moment, or asks me to clarify which one I am talking about when I tell her about a good part I just read.

  2. I have bookmarks in three or four books at the same time. Typically, I have a novel I read each night before bed, but during the day I pick up a short story collection. I figure I can steal enough time to read a short story here or there. Then there are my magazines…I read magazine articles all the time. I could open my own waiting room with all the magazines I have around the house. Oh, and did I mention I read comics, too?

    • I didn’t even mention magazines! I try to bring my Writer’s Digest and Poets and Writers magazines with me to read on my lunch break. Those and short stories are great for reading in short batches of time!

  3. I do it all the time too, Jennifer, and very similar to what you described: a nightstand book (love this phrase), the book I read aloud to my kids before bedtime, and a third. Sometimes an e-book for my purse, sometimes an audio book for the car (although my commute is only 10 minutes so it takes forever to get through a book). I think if it works and you can keep all the stories straight, who cares?

  4. I “cheat on” books all the time, but strangely enough, I still feel guilty about it… especially when one is a library book that has to go back. Then I think it would be better to buckle down and read one at a time instead of dipping in and out of two or three different books.

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