Why I am Not a Book Monogamist

Currently reading pile of books

There seem to be two types of readers. Those who read one book at a time, and those who don’t. I definitely fall in the latter category. I tend to have about ten books on the go at any one time.

People often say to me, “I can’t do that, I’d get the characters and plotlines muddled up.” I really have NEVER done this. Unless you are reading very similar books, I can’t imagine how you’d get confused.  Let’s compare it with TV to see what I mean. If I enjoy an episode of Death in Paradise on telly I don’t need to wait for the series to end so I can bulk watch it before viewing anything else. I am perfectly capable of watching an episode of Coronation Street or Doctor Who half an hour later and not muddle up the characters or plots. I feel the same about books.

I don’t suggest starting everything you fancy the moment you buy it. As someone with two hundred and thirty three books on my To-Be-Read-Own list, this would be a disaster. But I switch books books between different contexts all the time. Here are some of my contexts.

Stack of books

The Highbrow Read

When I was a teenager they opened up a Waterstones in Swansea. Before this I only really remember obtaining books in the library, charity shops or the once-yearly trip my family made to Hay-On-Wye.  The cheapest books they sold were Wordsworth Classics. In reading them purely because they were affordable, I discovered I really enjoyed classics, and they made me feel “well read”. That’s still a goal of mine, so I tend to have one classic on the go at any one time.


The Trashy Read

I can’t read highbrow all the time. Well done if you can. I always have to have a silly prawn cocktail crisp book on the go. Then when I’m tired, I’m grumpy or just brain dead, I can still read. If a highbrow book is heavy going (Virginia Woolf, I’m talking about you) I sometimes alternate chapters of one with the other.


The Non-Fiction Read

I like learning and I’ve got this weird brain where nearly everything is interesting. I bet hubcaps would be fascinating to read about if you were starting a collection. I’ve read books about the human genome, spy technology in world war two, why open offices are a terrible idea, how everyday Victorians lived their lives. I also love a bit of self-improvement, so books on organisation, vintage housekeeping and fashion all appeal. I can’t imagine reading a non-fiction book all the way through without reading anything else though.


The Audio “Read”

Audio books were a main feature of my last blog post about fitting more reading into your life. There are lots of jobs where your hands and eyes are busy but your brain and ears are not. Cooking, cleaning, gardening, travelling for example. I have earbuds for walking and I just stick my phone in a saucepan lid while I’m in the kitchen. It amplifies the volume enough so I can hear it over the extractor fan. Several people have told me that audio books are the only thing that helped them sleep during times of grief or anxiety.


The Shared Audio “Read”

Because I regularly drive with my husband in the car, we always have a shared audio book on the go. This means neither of us have to listen to the other person’s audio book part way through.  At New Year, I started another new audio book because we were driving to Cornwall and back with a friend in the car. When I drive my nephews somewhere I dig out the Enid Blyton audio books or Harry Potter.


The Poetry Read

I can’t read more than four pages of poetry a day. I just get cynical and hate everything I read past that point. I don’t know why this is.


The Comfort Re-Read

Sometimes I’m in a particular mood and I don’t want to try any new flavours, I want to know exactly what I am going to get. There are a few books I reread year on year. Including An Old Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott, A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I’ve re-read Pride and Prejudice a crazy amount of times.


The Bathtime Read

I always read in the bath. But not all books are bath books. I won’t read a Victorian clothback in the bath for instance. So if everything I am reading is audio or precious, I will just start a new bath suitable book.


The Because-I-Felt-Like-It Read

If I just don’t fancy anything I’m currently reading right now I’ll go ahead and start something I do fancy. Life is too short not to.

Currently reading pile of books

Here’s a list of my Currently Reading:


  • Home Before Dark by Beverly Hastings (Trashy Read)
  • Lyra Celtica: An Anthology of Representative Celtic Poetry by Elizabeth A. Sharp (Poetry Read)
  • Swann’s Way (In Search of Lost Time, #1) by Marcel Proust (Highbrow Read, Bathtime Read)
  • Dorothy L. Sayers: The Complete Stories (Bathtime Read, Because I-Felt-Like-It Read)
  • City of Lies by Alafair Burke (Audio Read)
  • Be Young with Yoga by Richard L. Hittleman (Non-Fiction Read)
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (Highbrow Read, Shared Audio Read)


I’m also reading our Ford Focus car manual. I just thought I might learn a thing or two…

4 Comment

  1. Sarah Titley says: Reply

    Last year the library did a brilliant thing – they had shelves of books in brown paper bags so you couldn’t see what they were. You just had to pick what you felt might have something interesting inside. I can’t even remember the books I got now, but I read books I would never have picked off the shelf. Great idea to expand my rather narrow range!

    1. Caroline says: Reply

      I loved a series the library did where you had to read something from different countries, and you had a passport, then books from different eras. They have such creative ideas!

  2. Sarah Titley says: Reply

    I meant to say at the beginning that you have a much wider range of reading than I do. I’m a bit feast or famine – I only read specific genres at a time. Not sure why!

    1. Caroline says: Reply

      I think it’s almost a problem with me. Everything is potentially interesting. Sometimes when I read a book and really don’t like it I feel relieved because I can cross the rest of that author’s books off my “MUST READ EVERYTHING EVER WRITTEN” list!

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