Monogamous vs. Polygamous Reading: Which 'Type' Do You Prefer?

Posted by Marie on March 28, 2018


There's no wrong way to read. Some bibliophiles devour multiple books at once while others savor a single book at a time. We asked our followers on Twitter and Facebook which strategy they prefer and put together a list of some of the most popular comments. Which ones do you relate to?


1."One book at a time. I love experiencing every emotion in each plot while leafing through a copy," says Carol.

2. "Multiple books: that way my mind can travel to many places at the same time," says Marina.

3."I will have a regular book and an audiobook going at the same time. That way I can 'read' when it’s not feasible for me to visually read," says Valerie.

4."I used to read strictly one at a time. Then I realized that if I have two to three books going at once, I read so, so, so much more," says Beth.

5. "I alternate between both, depending on how I'm feeling and how much time I have. Sometimes, I'm so drawn into a book that I forget about the other one," says Gabriela.

6. "I can only read more than one book at a time if they are dramatically different, otherwise I start getting confused," says Dawn.

7. "I read multiple books at a time, especially if one is longer than the others," says Miriam.

8. "I only read one book at a time. I become very engrossed in what I read, so switching back and forth between books would be too distracting and would take away some of the pleasure of what I am reading," says Alexandra.

9. "Multiple books—usually of different genres as I am a mood reader," says Fiona.

10. "I always read at least two books at once—usually something on my Kindle for my bus rides to and from work, then a paperback or hardcover book before going to bed," says Michael.

11. "I do multiple books in multiple formats: ebook, audiobook and paper. I find that if I hit a slow spot in a book I can switch books," says Warren.

12."I always have two or three going at a time. I switch between them depending on my mood, my energy level, and whatever I'm interested in at the time," says Karen.

13. "One at a time. I've tried reading multiple books at once, but I found myself reading more of one and ignoring the other. I find it more efficient to just read one at a time," says Christina.



Do you prefer to read one book at time or multiple books at once? Share your two cents in the comments!

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The Contenders for the Best Audiobooks of the Year
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Comments Showing 1-50 of 382 (382 new)


message 1: by Jaclyn (new)

Jaclyn I watch more than one television series at the same time, so why not books? I usually have two that I shift between (one nonfiction, one story), but right now I have five. Oops?


message 2: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey I have a system: four going at once, at least one by a woman of color, at least one by a man of color, and at least two by women. It keeps me balanced.


message 3: by Ashley (new)

Ashley Lynne I will read two books at a time. I make sure that they are two totally different types of books so that I can’t possibly get details confused. I also try to make sure and read a physical book and have the other be either a kindle or audiobook. Or I will read a really long book that I know will take a while and I’m the mean time catch up on some comics or just read a short book. Variety. And reading 2 books at a time. Lol ✌️❤️🌻😁🥑


message 4: by David (new)

David I have sixteen books on my currently reading shelf, so I guess that answers the question, lol.


message 5: by Vikas (new)

Vikas Multiple books for me, started as one paperback and one e-book but now there are multiple physical books and I switch between them as per the interest and mood. Also if I am reading a long book, I would put it aside sometimes to finish few smaller ones.


message 6: by Charles (new)

Charles I have different books for different places. A book for Work, a book for Days off whatever-time, a before-bed book and sometimes a long-term season book i slowly work on. All of those spots or more can be made up of any one or more combination of books so I basically have at least 2 or 3 I'm "working on" at any given time.


message 7: by Kiwieb (new)

Kiwieb I'm usually a monogamous reader. Recently I've started having an audiobook for my new commute. So one hard copy and one audio. I could read more than one at a time, but I have so little time to read I rather finish one book than take forever to finish several.


message 8: by :) (new)

:) Multiple! 4 or 5 at the same time. Kindle or paper


message 9: by Anahit (new)

Anahit H. I usually read four books at the same time: a collection of essays, a short story collection, a classic, a contemporary/genre book.


message 10: by Liam (new)

Liam I'm basically the same as Gabriela (number 5 above), but I try not to read more than four books at a time. I'll occasionally have five going for a few days, but that's quite rare...


message 11: by Dania (new)

Dania Rizuan I usually read two books at a time: one audiobook, and the other a physical book (Kindle/paper).


message 12: by Elise (new)

Elise Multiple, and I seem to have gotten crazier with it this year, but I've got it all worked out and I don't get mixed up with the different books. I've got a system that works for me, but don't ask me to explain it. :P But I usually have two books that I spend most of my time reading and focused on: a physical book and an ebook.

My theory is I read more books, I can get through more books off my TBR, but it never seems to get smaller anyway. :P


message 13: by Славея (new)

Славея Котова I always read one history book during the day (as a history student) and one fiction before sleeping. That way I balance and try not to fall behind with the fiction. Its a system that worked for me very well the last 3-4 years.


message 14: by Sandradine (new)

Sandradine I'm definitely a polygamous reader. Time is short and there's so much to discover yet!


message 15: by Krista (new)

Krista I have 11 books on my currently reading shelf...so I guess that answers that question.

But there is a system! There is the book I am listening to as I walk, the bathroom book, the book I read on my phone when I have forgotten my kindle, the book I read a chapter a day of that is usually boring but important to read to be an educated person, the devotional book I read daily, the Japanese book I read daily, and then whatever else I am just interested in reading...


message 16: by Kay (new)

Kay Hawkins 3 books for me. 1 is an audio book, I listen to when I'm around the house cleaning and stuff instead of music. 2 my ebook, I read on the bus too and from work. 3. A physical book I read when I don't have access to the others and usually on my break at work.


message 17: by Catarina (new)

Catarina PB It honestly depends on the books. If I am reading some kind of self help book/ scientific book I will for sure read a novel (or other type of book) on the side; This means that not all books should be read immediately, some books are to be savoured, thought through and even maybe take some notes in order for them to sink in. While other books, you can devour quickly and it will completely absorb you~


message 18: by Benjamin (new)

Benjamin Lupton This tip changed my life. A few years ago, I added all the books I had started reading to goodreads, it turned out there was 13 that I was reading! How the hell can someone read 13 books at once?! So then I came up with the rule: start-to-finish I am only allowed 1 fiction and 1 non-fiction book. This changed everything for me. If a non-fiction book was getting a bit boring, rather than pickup a new book with an interesting introduction, I had the choice of either reading my current fiction book for a bit, or to persist through. If there was a new fiction book I wanted to read, I had to wait until I finished my current fiction book to get to it. Same for non-fiction. This rule allowed for a balance, while also offering a road to completion. Now I knock off about a book a month, ever since that rule was introduced a few years ago.


message 19: by Tabitha (new)

Tabitha I usually have a few books going at any given time. Recently I've been doing two audiobooks, one fiction and one non-fiction and two phsyical books, one (or two) fiction and one non-fiction.


message 20: by Lennongirl (new)

Lennongirl I usually read in between 1 to 3-5 books: Most often some non fiction and some fiction, often with an audiobook added to the mix for those times spend driving, cleaning and the like. Depending on the size of the books I'm reading, I might need another smaller volume to carry with me while communting, or, if I read on my kindle only, another physical for sauna/wellness days when I don't want to leave my kindle alone in a semi public space. Also, if my current reading collection is too one sided, I might add something entirely else for variety.

Nice to see I'm not the only one with such a "system" ;)


message 21: by Andrei (last edited Mar 29, 2018 12:02AM) (new)

Andrei Aubrey wrote: "I have a system: four going at once, at least one by a woman of color, at least one by a man of color, and at least two by women. It keeps me balanced."

How is this balanced? If you want balance, add also one by a white woman, one by a white man, and two by men.


But replying to the question in article: I'm ussually monogamous.


message 22: by Alex (new)

Alex Jaclyn wrote: "I watch more than one television series at the same time, so why not books? I usually have two that I shift between (one nonfiction, one story), but right now I have five. Oops?"

The analog to watching more than one series at a time, when applied to books, is to read read one book in a series at a time, then switch series. Unless you have 2 tvs going or picture in picture.


message 23: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey @Andrei: It keeps me balanced. There's no need to keep you balanced.


message 24: by Katsuro (new)

Katsuro Ricksand I make sure to always be reading one classic, one Japanese novel and one science-fiction novel. Also, every weekend I read a classic play.


message 25: by Sabrina (new)

Sabrina Reading all the comments above, I'm feeling terribly inadequate.
I can read only a book at time.


message 26: by Adriana (new)

Adriana  Lema Polygamous!! 5 or more and kindle books when i have to wait


message 27: by Sandi (new)

Sandi I tend to devour multiple books at once. I usually read three to four books at once as long as they're all different from one another. I like the option to read 'this or that' book depending on how I'm feeling at the time.


message 28: by Monur72 (last edited Mar 29, 2018 01:16AM) (new)

Monur72 1 book daytime (work) : novels, classical stuff
1 book at night (at home) : philosophy, hard reads, second reading


message 29: by Lucas (new)

Lucas Quiet frankly: I have physical books, I have a reading app on my phone for easy reads while commuting, I have an app on my tablet for reading comics and mangas. And I have an eReader... mainly to read a few lines before sleep. The content of these things seldom overlap... I can't read just one book at the time...


message 30: by Johnny (new)

Johnny Carruthers I'm currently in the middle of reading nine books. Draw your own conclusions.

I'm a Zen speedreader with OCD. Once I get locked into that certain groove, you might be astounded (maybe even analoged) at how quickly I zip through it.


message 31: by Malvika (last edited Mar 29, 2018 01:27AM) (new)

Malvika I prefer to read only one book at time in order to completely engage myself in the emotions, the story so that I never end up getting confused between the plots of two or more books....


message 32: by Regina (new)

Regina David wrote: "I have sixteen books on my currently reading shelf, so I guess that answers the question, lol."

Don't even go there. I have the same problem.


message 33: by Alper (new)

Alper Çuğun I read five to ten books at a time (only one fiction then: non-fiction, academic, management, programming, foreign-language) and rotate them depending on what I feel like reading at a given moment. That is unless a book grips me and I just quickly blaze through it while giving the others a pass.


message 34: by Deb (new)

Deb One book at a time.


message 35: by Morticia (new)

Morticia I usually read several books at the same time but often of different genres -poetry, fantasy, horror and a few non-fiction. I always have a book in my purse and several all over my flat. I read several because what I want to read depends on my mood. And sometimes I just can't wait to start reading a certain book and it doesn't matter if I'm already reading other books!


message 36: by Esther (last edited Mar 29, 2018 04:12AM) (new)

Esther I have tried reading more than one, especially if one is short stories or non-narrative non-fiction, but I get caught up in the world of a novel and forget everything else and then returning to my previous book just doesn't seem so appealing.


message 37: by Tomas (new)

Tomas K. Definitely one at a time, otherwise I have weird crossover dreams.


message 38: by Jess (new)

Jess Penhallow I would prefer to read one book at a time but that's not possible as it's not always feasible to read a paperback (like at midnight when my boyfriend wants to sleep!) So I usually have two books on the go one paperback and one e-book.

I am also rereading the Harry Potter books as part of a twitter book club and we are assigned a particular number of chapters a week so I guess that makes 3.


message 39: by Alex (new)

Alex I read one novel(-length-book) at a time, but do put them down to read a short story from time to time.


message 40: by Kristine (new)

Kristine Lenda I feel like the amount of books I read at anytime always hovers around 5-8 books..


message 41: by Commander (new)

Commander Xell Poly-poly-recursive-and-poly-back-gamous forever!

Some texts are hard to understand: technical or scientific book demands large amount of time to read. Reading gaps can be filled by other books.
Some books are emotionally hard, I stop reading with "nevermore" scream add turn to easy fiction.
Some books are just not compatible with my current mood.
Some books are in format which is not compatible with current situation (audiobook in noisy room or paper book in rainy street).

However, the times are changing.
Stories are crawling in my mind and crying to continue reading.
I look back and pick em all.

Usually, I read/look/listen from 5 to 15 books at once. Or even more, in the case of franchise books, such as Doctor Who series: every franchise is like one more never-ending story.


message 42: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie Now that I think about it, I read two at a time. I usually have several books on hold at my local library, and when I get home, I curl up and plunge right in. Those two weeks seemingly fly right by!


message 43: by ♛ Garima ♛ (new)

♛ Garima ♛ I believe there would be very few people going to answer 'a book at a time', most of readers (myself included), we go for polygamous relationship with books! :D

Thank God, books are not jealous creatures!


message 44: by Justine (new)

Justine I was monogamous; but, these days, I read different books at a time. It's mostly non-fiction; if I read a fiction book, I read it alone.


message 45: by Philip (new)

Philip I'm definately a multi-book reader. However, it depends a lot on genre, length and medium of the individual books. And sometimes I get a new book and start reading it out of the blue, and out of curiosity. Sometimes I drop them after a while, most often I keep them in mind an return to them whenever I feel like it.

I guess my curiosity and the habbit to just pick books randomly from a shelve (at home, bookstores or libraries) is the main reason for having developed that habbit.


message 46: by Joe (new)

Joe Hightower I can only read one at a time, have never figured out how to get one eye to read one book and the other eye to read another:). Actually, I read about 7 or 8 books at a time in several different areas of interest. Something for work, hobbies, personal growth, history, a novel and two topics of detailed study


message 47: by Silvia (new)

Silvia Magda I read multiple books at a time, up to 6. I get bored of reading just one book and I like moving on to another and get back to the first one in a few days. This works for me perfectly. I don't mix up the characters (that's what people ask me all the time). And I don't read a lot of books at a time just to say that I read them, but I enjoy them very much.


message 48: by Peter (last edited Mar 29, 2018 03:48AM) (new)

Peter Polygamous.

I am usually reading 4 books at a time - 1 at work, one in the evening, 1 in the loo, 1 in bed.

It's easier than carting them around.


message 49: by Cendaquenta (new)

Cendaquenta Very much monogamous but I'm trying to start poly-reading.


message 50: by Doug (new)

Doug Usually two, occasionally more but typically one in French and one in English (I'm bilingual). Like Aubrey, I have a system for reading diversely, though less ambitiously so: using goodreads showed me that (despite my distinct impression to the contrary) I had read more books by male authors in a ratio of roughly 2:1. So I now keep track of the gender of the authors I'm reading and aim for the opposite over the course of a year, i.e. roughly 2:1 female:male. This has highlighted to me just how squewed towards male authors book industry and culture are, as I find that I have to seek out books by women to add to my to-read shelf, whereas books by men seem to find me. I have considered trying to do the same by ethnicity but I'm not sure it would necessarily be possible to tell an author's ethnicity, or appropriate to guess/assume. But my more conscious reading choices have at least brought more Latin American and French North African writers to my shelves, which is something.


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