Monday, March 21, 2011

How to Read Several Books at Once - wikiHow

How to Read Several Books at Once

Reading multiple books concurrently isn't for everyone, but sometimes it's helpful to take in a lot of information quickly or to let your mind enjoy varied genres at once. Switching between books keeps each book fresh and it can be a good way to compare them. It can even help youdecide what to read if you're not sure.

If you have a lot to read, try reading it all and see what happens.


  1. 1
    Make time to read. If you cannot get through even one book at a time, starting several at once is only going to make the whole process slower. Even if you can only spend a few minutes per day reading, you can still switch on and off between different books.
  2. 2
    Select several books according to your interests and your reasons for reading them.
    • The books may be related or unrelated, depending on your purpose. If you are researching a particular subject, they will probably be related. If you are reading for fun, the books may be any assortment you wish.
    • Choose books that draw you in. It will be easier to come back to a book you enjoy.
  3. 3
    Sample each book. You can read the beginnings (one at a time), or you can pre-read. Look at the table of contents, and read or skim the summaries, introductions, and prefaces.
  4. 4
    Start reading each book while your attention for it is fresh. Try to start the day you bring it home or the day you begin a project. Use your fresh interest to read a larger portion of a new book in the first sitting or sittings. Thoroughly engage with and commit to reading each book in turn. Reading more the first time will also give you a good head start.
    • You need not start several books at the same time to read them concurrently. Instead, try laddering them, getting well into the first before starting the next.
  5. 5
    Have one with you, wherever you go.
     Have one with you, wherever you go.
    Scatter books around. Leave one on your nightstand, one by the breakfast table, and another in your bag. Read whichever book is nearby when you are there. Match the book to the focus or mood you usually have when you visit a certain place.
  6. 6
    Mix books of different types and formats. Listen to an audio book in the car, keep a paperback or e-book in your purse, have e-books on your iPad, etc. Depending on your purpose, choose books of different subjects and difficulties, so that you'll have choices for different places and moods. Reading about different topics will help you keep straight which book is which.
    • Your mind can cope well with associating different books being read within the same time period but in different places. So, have books for the bus or train to and from work, books for bedtime, books for the hammock afternoon, and books for moments when you need instructions, such as cookbooks.
    • Keep in mind that reading a politically charged tome at bedtime will be more effort than a lightweight romance read. Another good reason for having several books on the go at once!
  7. 7
    Have a time line in mind, even if it's not a firm or strict one. If no library or projectdue date is built into your reading choices, notice when you begin each book and pay attention to your progress. Use this awareness of time to keep yourself relatively focused.
  8. 8
    Don't ignore any book so long that you lose the story or forget where you were. The books you read concurrently must compete for your attention. If a book interests you much less than others, change your approach. Read that book separately. Read that book alongside others of a similar interest level. Or, consider dropping the book altogether.
  9. 9
    Use a bookmark to mark your place when you stop.
     Use a bookmark to mark your place when you stop.
    Read an entire chapter or section at a time whenever possible, or at least find a good stopping place. Reading an entire section in a sitting will help you keep continuity when you skip from book to book. Reading one or two shorter sections of a book per sitting can also help you understand difficult or complex writing better.
  10. 10
    Let your focus and preferences guide you. If you find yourself drawn into a book and feel like continuing for longer, go ahead. Read whichever book you are in the mood to read at a given moment.
  11. 11
    Get through a difficult book by using a fun book as a reward. Let yourself read the fun book for awhile when you get through part of the difficult book.
  12. 12
    Mark in books only if you own them; otherwise, use slips of paper or tape flags, or write notes somewhere else.
     Mark in books only if you own them; otherwise, use slips of paper or tape flags, or write notes somewhere else.
    Take notes on key points as you go, or mark pages you will need to find again for a project.
  13. 13
    Try to read endings in longer sittings and spend less time in other books. Endings in fiction are often the most intense part of the story. In nonfiction, they usually contain summaries, conclusions, and other important information. Either way, try to read with more continuity near the end.
  14. 14
    Finish books. However many books you choose to read at a time, make sure to continue to read the important ones until you finish with them.


  • Your reading pace will naturally increase with practice. Focus on understanding and comprehension and let your pace take care of itself.
  • Read unrelated subjects, genres, and ideas together. It can help you keep the books separate. Also, it can sometimes result in a combination that you otherwise would not have considered. Take the opportunity to explore different themes side by side.
  • Libraries are a great place to get books to sample, especially if you're not sure what to read.
  • Figure out how many books you can comfortably read at once. Start with two or three books and increase the number as you become more practiced at switching between books.
  • Experiment with different reading styles and patterns until you find what works best for you.
  • Consider dropping books that don't keep your attention. When reading for fun, drop the ones that you don't find fun or interesting. When reading for a project or research, skip any irrelevant books or read only the parts that pertain.
  • You can always read multiple books sequentially if you prefer, or if concurrent reading doesn't work for you.


  • Be conscious of due dates and deadlines.
  • Take precautions not to lose or damage library books.

editThings You'll Need

  • Various books
  • Library card (optional)


Thanks & Best Regards
Wael Guirguis Gad El-Karim
Senior Help Desk Consultant at HITS
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