How Readers Read

Readers have different methods, just like writers do. They choose their books differently. They read their books differently. As a reader, I used to be a die-hard one-at-a-time reader. I simply could not start reading one book if I was in the middle of another. It just didn’t happen. As I got older and had children, I had to learn to multitask. Eventually that spilled over to my reading, too. I would have two or three books going—one in my purse, one on my nightstand, one in the living room. I could put down one and pick up another without batting an eye. Usually they were wildly different books, too. A piece of classic literature, a more recently published novel and maybe, just maybe a non-fiction book sprinkled in.

But in the nine months since I’ve signed my book contract, my reading time has constricted. And in that shrinking, I find I can’t divide my attention between multiple books. I’m back to being a one-at-a-time reader. (The only exception to this is reading on the fly from the kindle app on my phone!)

How about you? Do you keep multiple books going at one time or do you finish one and start another? Do you read all in the same genre or, like me, do you have to have to intersperse contemporary and historical and mystery and classics (and, okay, non-fiction if you must!)?


Richard Mabry said...

I'm a very linear, straight-ahead, off-my-desk/onto-yours type. I can only read one book at a time. And when people ask me about one of my novels, I have to shift mental gears, put myself back into that scenario, and think a bit before I can answer them.
Kay tells me women can multi-task, as a preparation for being a wife and mother. I'm thankful they can.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

So you're a fan of the Kindle? I'm still on the fence, but I'm getting closer and closer to buying one every day.

I read all kinds of books. Sometimes I have as many as six or seven going at once (and yes, this is very much my parenting style and the way I run things at home).

I think that's why I like my characters and concepts strong--so I can tell it apart from all the others I'm reading.
~ Wendy

C. Alvarez said...

Just like when you're in school and have different text books that you're learning from, anyone CAN read different topics and digest them relatively well. However, psychology has shown that multitasking is BAD BAD BAD. It lowers the performance and quality of all the tasks at hand. So when I ever interview for a job, and someone asks me if I multitask, it is like nails on a blackboard to me. The answer is yes, I can, I prefer not to. I prefer to triage tasks and handle from most important to least.

This was a rather long way of stating that I prefer to read each novel/book one at a time, though I have taken a break from one author in the middle of a book to read something else. It's not what I term multitasking because in the interim that I have put that book aside, I have forgotten about it, it no longer has importance because that is not my current task. It will become important once more when I decide it deems importance for me to finish it.

I like doing it that way because then each author and each book gets due respect and my undivided attention. They worked hard to write that, shouldn't I at least give them that much in return?

Anne Mateer said...

I agree with Kay, Richard. Woman are better at multitasking, but as C. mentions, that's not always a good thing!

Wendy, I'd been using the kindle app on my phone but I got an actual Kindle for Christmas and I LOVE it! Of course I still have "real" books, too, so I'm not reading on it exclusively but it sure is wonderful, for lots of reasons.

C, I love your thought about giving each author your undivided attention out of respect for the author. I so agree (both as a reader and a writer!).

Niki Turner said...

Usually if I've got more than one book going at a time it's either because I'm having trouble getting through one of them or because I'm mixing my fiction and non-fiction reading.

Melany said...

I agree with C. I multitask by necessity. I was always an avid reader, and picked up (and finished!) books one after another! Now my reading list grows faster than I can keep up with it, so now I am still picking up books, sometimes before I have finished the previous one(s). Like C., I think I might have picked up the habit in college.

I used to give myself more to books, no skimming with complete attention. College destroyed that- one of my few grudges against my education. Since college I have to force myself to slow down and take in what I am reading...

As a girl I mostly read fiction, but I am a nonfiction fan as well. Love travel writing and cultural studies, and Christian inspirational/biography. Ideally, I could have one fiction book and one devotional book going at the same time, maybe another book of nonfiction, but I hate it when I have more than one of each.

Anne Mateer said...

Melany, you do eventually get over that college way of reading! :) And yes, I enjoy travel and history and biography, too. I can read those while I have a novel going. It's just getting where I can't have two novels going at once anymore!

Melany said...

That's good to hear :)

Patti Lacy said...

Great post! I keep several stewing at a time!!! Right now, it's The Omnivore's Dilemma and The Warmth of Other Suns. Oh! I didn't mention Oswald Chambers' Complete Works.:)