Going Back To One Book At A Time

For most of my reading life, I was a one book at a time reader.  It’s only been in the last couple of years that I’ve started reading multiple books at one time.  It seemed to be working for me… until all of a sudden it didn’t.

Multiple Books (1)I started feeling unsettled and anxious about having 4 or 5 or 6 books on my nightstand in various states of being read.  (I am an anxious person by nature, so that this minor thing would cause me anxiety is not surprising.)  My focus has also been horrible this summer.  I know there are other factors involved (only child starting kindergarten, the ridiculous, disgusting, horrifying,but-I-can’t-look-away news cycle) but I think having too many books going at once is part of the problem.

So I’m going to try to go back to what used to work for me.  I’ll try reading one book at a time, with the exception of an audio book.  I am going to try to control myself with my library holds so that I don’t have too many things coming in at once and become overwhelmed. (The modify holds function on the online catalog is the best!)  I am going to try and PUT DOWN THE PHONE when I’m home.  I might put it on top of the fridge, that seems like a nice out of the way place!  And that nightstand of mine could use a good cleaning out anyway, regardless of what I happen to be reading.

These are my ideas.  Basically I just want to slow down.  Settle.  Breathe.

Are you able to juggle multiple books well, or do you find that it makes you scatterbrained and crazy?  Are you feeling like you need to find ways to gain more focus?  If you’ve experienced what I’m describing I’d love to hear your ideas about how to recover one’s attention span.

 

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32 thoughts on “Going Back To One Book At A Time

  1. I read multiple books at a time, but quite often I’ll read different ones in different contexts. So I have one book that I read while I’m exercising (usually a nonfiction book, usually one chapter per exercising session), another I keep in the bathroom to read while I’m brushing my teeth, another for my commute to work, and like that. It works pretty well!

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  2. I have always been a one book at a time person!

    Unless you count putting down books half-finished because I didn’t like them and are eventually going to DNF them – but am too cowardly-custard to make the swishy-delete motion….so I just leave them for a while until I haz no shame. o_O

    Actually the only thing I am multiple-reading at the moment is (shhh) Middlemarch. Can only read that when I am supposed to be working. Which probably says more about me than I’d like to admit.

    I like the sense of completion I get from one book at a time…it’s like 1 down, what’s next..? 🙂

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    1. I get that, Valancy, about the feeling of completion. Although I never feel totally done with something until I review it (if it’s something I want to review. I don’t review everything I read.)

      I STILL haven’t written my wrap-up Middlemarch post! It’s hanging over my head. I WILL get it done in the next week, I will, I will. 🙂

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  3. I’ve always had a few books going at a time. I try to keep the stories different so I don’t confuse them, but I’ve never been able to just read one book. The only time that happens is if the story really takes off, so I just can’t put it down. 🙂

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  4. I know exactly how you feel! I vacillate between reading multiple books at the same time and reading one at a time, although I always have an audio book going. Sometimes it’s overwhelming and I have to stop reading some, other times I’m fine. Like you, I think it just depends on what’s going on in my life and needing to “finish” something. I recently just started afresh with new books because I wasn’t moving a few around. It made me feel better. 🙂

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    1. Eve, thanks for the empathy! I think I need to be better at letting books go that aren’t doing it for me. I don’t finish books I strongly dislike, but if a book is “okay” I will often keep on going. I need to be a bit more harsh, I think! I’m glad you found something that worked for you!

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  5. I have books that are attached to certain parts of my day. Some of them make sense, some are embarrassing. For instance, I’m reading 8 of the Anne of Green Gables books for the #20BooksofSummer challenge. That’s easy to do because L.M. Montgomery is a fluid writer. I’m now on Book #5, and it travels with me everywhere. Then I have a book I keep in the restroom. It’s a shorter read — the authors have little snippets of information. This book isn’t serious in any way, but if I wanted to, I could review it at Grab the Lapels. Then, my husband and I have what we call “bedtime stories.” I’ve since read that couples who read to each other before bed have a much better romantic life because they share something: one story. They can talk about the story and not work, kids, politics, etc. And everyone knows what they’re doing at the end of the night. Currently, I’m reading to my husband The Martian. I don’t get my books confused, because each has a unique place in my house and day. I also used to have audiobooks when I walked more, so that would be 4 books at one time. I could never just have them all in one pile, though.

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    1. So you and Jenny have the same method for multiple books – different physical locations! Very interesting. I love that you and your husband read the same book before bed. That’s really cool.

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      1. I actually read aloud to him. He listens. We’re not reading at the same time. It’s nice; give it a try! Also, for me, it’s not just location, but length and difficulty. I can’t read aloud to my husband a book that does too many dialects or abstract ideas. We did 1984, and that was killer.

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  6. I nearly always have three books on the go – one factual, which I read early in the day (partly ‘cos my brain’s awake and partly to kinda get it over with – it makes me feel virtuous!). Then a serious fiction of the lit-fic variety – early evening for about an hour, and might stick with it longer if it really grabs me. And then for late evenings and any other odd moments, something lighter – crime, sci-fi, horror, and these are the ones I read fastest. I can’t read more than one book in the same genre at a time though – my brain would get them confused. But sometimes if I find I’m loving a book the schedule gets thrown away and I just stick with it and race through it. And if I find all three of my choices are boring me, that’s when I fall into a reading slump. I do abandon books but not as often as I probably should, so I spend more time than I really ought to reading stuff I’m not totally enthusiastic about – crazy when you consider how many books we all have on our TBRs…

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    1. FictionFan, I do appreciate the different genre method. I was doing that myself. And it still became too much for me. Which probably is due more to life circumstances than anything else. I agree, there are too many books on our TBRs to waste time with less than stellar books – but I do it too!

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  7. I used to think there was a time when I only read one book at a time but to be honest, I have always had more than one book on the go since middle school. There was always the books I read for school and the books I read for myself and once school and university was done it meant I just got to have more books for myself on the go! Sometimes I think I should try one book at a time but that makes me as anxious as having multiple books going makes you. I hope your single book reading goes well!

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  8. I cannot handle more than 2 books on any given day. This has been true for me all my life! I can’t believe you could handle 4-6 books at one time. :O That is unimaginable for me. But I’m glad you’re scaling it back, which seems to be the perfect thing to do for you right now. 2-3 is reasonable, imo, but more than that and I don’t see how you can be productive! haha, no offense to people who read this many 🙂
    I need to also practice not checking my phone when I’m reading. But it’s so difficult, Laila! I never thought I’d be the person addicted to my phone Twitter, but it’s gotten really bad since I started blogging. ;( I need help!

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    1. Naz, I am so addicted to Twitter. Once i am on it, I can’t seem to stop. So I try not to be on it so often, but it’s hard! Ugh. My attention span in definitely not what it used to be.

      Yes, 4-6 was WAY too much for this lady. I’m digging the one book and one audio book right now.

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  9. I hear ya about the increase in anxiety. For me, it’s mostly all of the awful news constantly pumping through the airwaves. I kid you not, my two year old’s newest phrase is, “Breaking news!” Good for you for finding tangible things that help lower the anxiety level. Keep us updated!

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    1. I’m (sort of) glad I’m not the only one feeling anxious about the news. It’s really toxic, isn’t it? Yet I feel like I can’t completely tune out, out of responsibility as a citizen. I will keep you guys posted on how this works!

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  10. My reading is best when I have one fiction print and something audio. Easy to compartmentalize, sort of like Jenny with the location idea. I can sometimes throw in a third book if it a nonfiction. Occasionally? I will start and pause a book – like I halted The Vegetarian in the middle to devour I am Lucy Barton (very different book, or IS it?) and then went back to The Veg. Come to think of it, I think I managed to read The Fireman in scheduled chunks while reading another fiction but that is rare. I prefer as monogamous as possible so here’s wishing you whatever works- – let it flow and don’t stress. ENJOY! 🙂

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    1. Come to think of it, I really have the best reading experiences when I have books in line. If I finish a book and don’t know what to read next, I tend to have NO books going! Crazy to admit, right?! *shrug*

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      1. It’s been so long since I’ve been without a book that I don’t remember what that feels like! 🙂 I am never without a book in the wings! I always have a pile (metaphorical or physical) somewhere.

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    2. Thank you, Care! I’m finding that I am enjoying one print and one audio at the moment. It will probably change! 🙂 I have not yet read Lucy Barton but it is on my TBR and I hope to read it before the year’s out.

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  11. Oh I hope sticking with one book will help calm things down!! I’ve always been a book juggler but I have times that are a bit too much for me too and then I go down to 2 books😳 Perhaps it also depends on what life is throwing at you at a given time. Somehow my anxiety leaves my juggling alone yay! Good luck with one book at a time and yeah definitely take breaks from the news and such if possible👍

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  12. Congratulations! Recently, I, too have been reflecting on the days when I was content to read one book at a time. Ironically, I think having so many reading friends in the blogosphere and on goodreads is what first amped things up for me. Right now I have a few books going for thematic reasons but I’m considering returning to reading one or two books at a time in the near future. I miss that close focus and savor.

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