reading multiple things at once.

i used to marvel at people who could read multiple books and magazines at the same time, always wondering how they could keep everything straight. between varying plotlines and characters and settings, i didn’t think i would ever be able to pull something like that off.

but in the last year, i began to notice something. if i was only reading one thing, whether it be a book or an issue of a magazine, i found it difficult to concentrate. i would often get distracted, noting that my mind had wandered off when i realized i had just read an entire paragraph or page but couldn’t recall any of it.

it’s not that i was bored or uninterested. on the contrary, i read a few books i loved last year, but my concentration levels were off. my schedule was very erratic, and so were my reading habits.

when i was making my list of all the things i want to read this year, i noticed that the list was much more diverse than it has been in recent years. there are a number of popular fiction novels as always, but there are booker winners, non-fiction, young adult books, and biographies thrown in as well. i realized that mixing up what i read would help my concentration, and i also discovered that reading multiple things at once has made a big difference in how much i enjoy what i am reading.

but i’m not reading multiple novels at the same time. that was where i was making my mistake and was getting confused between books. instead, i’m reading a mix of everything listed above, which i’ve found really refreshing. i’m trying to establish a little schedule for myself, but only time will tell how well that works out for me.

for now, my schedule looks a little something like this:

  • for 10-20 minutes every morning, before showering and getting ready for the day, i read malcolm gladwell’s the tipping point. i’m about 60 pages in and am enjoying learning about the small things that often end up making a big difference.
  • during my commute i read a novel. i just finished celeste ng’s everything i never told you yesterday evening, and i’m starting peter carey’s oscar & lucinda today. with bangalore traffic i generally make pretty good progress on a daily basis.
  • if i have some free time during the day, i read harry potter and the sorcerer’s stone on my kindle app. re-reading the entire hp series is on my list of goals for the year, and it’s easy to sneak in a chapter whenever i have a quick break. it’s been fun to revisit, and i can’t wait to see what new things i discover on this go round.
  • finally, when i get into bed each night i read lauren juliff’s how not to travel the world for about 15-20 minutes on my kindle, depending on how tired i am or how early i have to get up the following morning. it’s a light-hearted read about her misadventures from travelling the world for four years, and it helps me settle my mind before sleeping.
  • and on the weekend i spend part of one day – usually sunday – reading the week’s issue of the new yorker and catching up on things happening around the world.

i know it sounds a little wacky, but i’ve noticed that i’m actually reading faster than i usually do, and i’m enjoying all of the books a lot more. i look forward to my time with each read every day, and i think this is going to set a good foundation for the year ahead.

do you read one book at a time, or are you halfway through four different books like i am? which method do you prefer?


ps — if you have any interest in reading [or re-reading] the harry potter series, the kindle versions are all free with a kindle unlimited subscription, which comes with a 30-day free trial!

8 thoughts on “reading multiple things at once.

  1. vikramrangaswami1204 says:

    I have been trying this method as well. I am reading The Tipping Point in the morning and then Phil Jackson’s ‘Eleven Rings’ at night before bed. And every other night I thrown in an article from a Medical Jounrnal and last night I started reading a medical book for my exam while in bed and just before dosing off. It’s been pretty good so far, let’s see how long it lasts. You are my inspiration. Holla.


    1. veena lives her life. says:

      I’ve got faith in you. And we’ll keep each other accountable. Where are you in Tipping Point? I am in the chapter about the Stickiness Factor right now — any book that uses Sesame Street as an example is a good one in my book! Good luck, buddy. And keep me posted on how it’s all going. xx


      1. vikramrangaswami1204 says:

        Not sure. Was thinking of knocking out the other two Gladwell books since I have them on my phone, which how I am reading this one. And at night I read on the physical books I have. Thought that would keep things interesting. I was also thinking about reading Dr. Kalanithi’s book. I will decide after I finish crossing this bridge.


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