Annabel's House of Books

Noli domo egredi, nisi librum habes – Never leave home without a book.

Little & Often at the Right Time Of Day …

The very first proper post I wrote on this blog on 17th September 2008 was titled What’s your relationship to your reading? Within it I briefly explored whether I was a serial monogamist or two-timer in my reading habits. I was reminded of it recently because I have sort of been trying an experiment – more on that later.

Usually I find it difficult to read more than one book at a time, unless one is fiction and the other non-fiction. Experience had previously shown, that although I may start off alternating a couple of chapters at a time, when I try to read two or more fiction books alongside each other I always end up favouring one. Indeed the other book often then just sits there half read for ages, or maybe is never finished.

This is often the case with readalongs for me. Putting the book aside often means that the goldfish bit of my brain promptly forgets about it, and by the time I pick it up again, I’m a month behind and forgotten a lot of what happened in the previous section. The readalong is doomed then as far as I’m concerned.

At the moment though, I’m doing something different… I have two chunksters and one series of books on the go – all at the same time – and so far I’m managing to get them all read bit by bit.  I’m reading:

  • Oscar and Lucinda  by Peter Carey – 515 dense pages.  I’m now halfway through and loving it. I started reading it about a week and a half ago, around 25 pages at a time.
  • Riders by Jilly Cooper – 919 pages of horsey bonkbuster.  We’re actually reading this for bookgroup.  Not my normal fare, but it’s total racy fun, and the pages speed by.  I started reading it about 3 days ago and am up to page 205.
  • The Adrian Mole books by Sue Townsend.  I got sent the entire set of eight, and they’re wonderfully funny and nostalgic.  I’m four volumes in.  (A major post on the series coming up in a couple of days.)

So how am I, previously a one book at a time girl, managing to juggle three successfully?  By reading each at different times of day…

  • I read O&L in the mornings in bed. I’m a lark anyway and have good concentration first thing.  I try to get at least half an hour’s reading in before getting up.
  • I read Riders when I go to bed.  Again I like to read for thirty minutes or more if I can before falling asleep (many times with the light on, glasses on and thumb wedged into the book).
  • I’m reading Adrian Mole at those other times during the day when I have short gaps – ideally suited to diaries. I’ve been reading them off and on since the New Year.

So far, so good.  I’m sure it’s only working at the moment because of the length of the books I’m reading.  The average length of the books I read tends to be around 300 pages, and that doesn’t present the same challenge in terms of the time needed, and I know I won’t feel the need to juggle them.

My “Little and Often at the Right Time Of Day (LORTOD)” approach is working well.

Do you read more than one book at a time, or different books at different times of day?   See how Fleur Fisher copes with many books at once …


  1. Before I started blogging I didn’t realise that people read more than one book at once. I was a simple monogamous start-to-finsh sort of reader. But then I found my first lit blogs and realised ‘wow, I could read two, or three, or however many I like at once!’. It was like supermarket shopping for myself for the first time and realising that, yes, I could buy than ice cream. So I went a bit mad for a few years and sometimes had 8 or 9 books on the go. But, like you say, it just means having some books sitting half read for ages at a time.

    Now I usually have a couple of non-fiction and one or two fiction reads; most often a novel, som short stories, a book of essays and a biography or history non-fic. I read them as my mood takes me, but there is always one I’m working on more specifically – the one I take to work and up to bed. I like the randomness of it.

    • gaskella

      January 18, 2012 at 10:31 am

      I just find that the ones that sit half-read get forgotten… variety is the key to make this work for me I think.

  2. Even after years of blogging, I still prefer to be a one book at a time kind of girl. Even so, I do sometimes have three, sometimes four books on the go. The key for me is different formats or different kinds of books. Besides my main book, I often have an audiobook going, and I have to read my book group books a little at a time as it’s a weekly study group. Now and then, I’ll be rereading something that I keep at the office, or I’ll be dipping into a collection. But more than that, and I just feel scattered or end up leaving one of the books behind. The fewer books I’m reading, the better I feel about them all.

    • gaskella

      January 18, 2012 at 10:35 am

      Just realised I forgot my kindle which lives in my handbag – but I’m so busy at the moment that I don’t get much chance to read it when I’m out and about, and the staff room at school is not a good place to concentrate at break times!

      I’d much rather read one book straight through like you too and have something else available for those odd moments.

  3. I usually have two or three – or (not very often) four books on the go at any one time. I’ve read like this for as long as I can remember. But when one of the books really grabs my attention I drop the others to concentrate on that one. The rest of the time I do what you do – read one in the morning in bed with a cup of coffee, one before I go to sleep (usually it’s not long before I nod off) and one at any other time during the day or evening when I can.

    It works most of the time. This week I’ve been struggling to find the right book to read, because I’ve just finished The Help, the best book I’ve read for a while and after reading such a good book I’m finding others just not satisfying. I went to Barter Books yesterday and came home with two bags of books, so I’m hoping they’ll give me a kick start.

  4. Once upon a time I was also a one-book-at-a-time girl, but now I usually do two: book and audiobook. In special circumstances it can reach four: read-along book (only one read-along at a time!) and/or a big book that’s too uncomfortable to carry around to it becomes The House Book.

  5. I’m one fiction at a time, with a sideline in non-fiction that I dip into. The only time I am not monogamous is when I am struggling with a book group book I am not enjoying. Like now.

  6. I really can’t manage to read more than one book at a time unless one is non-fiction and the other is fiction. If I’m trying to juggle multiple fiction books I inevitably wind up focusing on one to the exclusion of all others so I’ve learned it’s best for me to just read one at a time!

  7. Hi, I saw your comment on savidgereads. I’ve been toying with the idea of developing a multi-book strategy for a while and you’ve inspired me to give it a go. I like your idea of reading certain books at certain times otherwise I can see myself favouring one book over the other and that would never do! Good luck…

  8. gaskella

    January 19, 2012 at 9:54 am

    I have a confession to make – I picked up Riders by mistake this morning when I woke up early – nearly a hundred pages later … When I’ve finished all my current chunky reads, I’ll revert to one at a time for a while I expect, but I now know a way of making it work for me when I need it to.

  9. I still read one at a time and think I always will I do put to one side books that aren’t grabbing me when I start them and come back at a later date ,all the best stu

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