Book Clubs Are the Death of Me: An Ode to the Monogamous Reader

The literary world would not be the same without the wide assortment of reader archetypes: the chronological reader, the anti-reader, and most importantly the multi-tasker. The multi-tasker sounds exactly like what they are, they juggle books of different sizes and genres and commit to multiple books at once. And then there’s me — the monogamous reader. The monogamous reader is a rare, but important breed of reader that can only commit to one single book at a time, from beginning to end. 


There are many struggles that come with being a reader, but none are as torturous as those of the monogamous readers. Everything from bookclubs to TBR piles to new book releases becomes a struggle when you’re in a committed relationship with one book till the very end.



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Beginning with one of the most daunting problems the monogamous readers face, the never-ending TBR pile is one of the most infuriating aspects of being committed to one book. I am constantly scrolling through Goodreads or the New York Times bestsellers list and adding at least three books per browsing session. Ever since joining Goodreads back in 2012 to keep track of my ever-growing TBR list, I’ve only managed to get through 280 books out of my “shelved” 523 books. 


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Books that have become “overnight” bestsellers, a la Gone Girl and Girl on the Train, are always lost on monogamous readers, at least until we finish our latest book. By the time we’ve finished our current book, the hype surrounding the latest bestseller may have come and gone. No matter how many people tell me how fantastic so-and-so book is, I just can’t abandon the book I’m currently working on.


I missed out on George Saunder’s Lincoln in the Bardo and John Green’s Turtles All The Way Down because I was in the middle of Nathan Hill’s The Nix and Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Marriage Plot, respectively. Both received huge hype at the bookstore I was working at, but I liked that by the time I got to them, all the hype had died down and I was able to read and appreciate the books for what they were, without the heavy bias of the excitement surrounding them upon their release. 



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I’ve been compulsively joining book clubs since I was sixteen. My favorites being those that follow the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge list. At one point in my life, I was a part of three book clubs following the Gilmore’s reads, which equates to three (typically) gargantuan novels to read all within a thirty-day period. I can handle one book for sure, but voluntarily reading the entire works of Dorothy Parker, Moby Dick, and Othello is a bit much for my monogamous reading habits. 



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Living a short subway ride away from the famous Strand Books in Manhattan is dangerous. Not only am I a card swipe away from spending my life’s savings on books, I am also dangerously close to making my TBR everlasting. If I keep purchasing books at my current rate, I’ll never be able to get through all the books I own and keep obtaining. 


The most heart-breaking thing of being a monogamous reader, or any reader really, is coming to terms with the fact that I’ll never be able to read all the books I want to within my lifetime. No matter how many books I’d love to read, there will always be books left unread. 


Featured Image Via DML