The great balancing act: being polynarritivus. Yes, that is a made up word, but if Dr. Seuss and Shakespeare have taught me anything, it’s that you can make words. They might catch on. It means reading more than one book at a time, and the antonym is another made up word: mononarritivus.
While many start by cherishing one book at a time, there are several advantages of switching to multiple stories at a time. Making the change from mononarritivus to polynarritivus can be scary. You may worry you’ll forget which story is which, or that you won’t finish them.
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The benefits outweigh the negatives, though! You’d be surprised how easy it is to keep track of separate books. Plus, reading multiple books at once can actually help you finish faster. If you don’t like a book, you have a backup. If you can’t remember a story, re-read it.
On her blog, Rachel Ann Hanley says the amount of reading she does has tripled since switching from reading one book to reading many. If you get bored of the narrative in a book, it can be a chore to start to read it for the goal of finishing it. When you read multiple books, you can choose which book to read and avoid more of the slumps of uninspiring narratives.
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But what if I never finish that book because I can read other books that are more interesting? Well, if you are having a hard time finishing it, do you really want to read that book? You can push yourself to read through it, but that problem is still there and even more present if you choose to read only one book at a time.
When reading multiple books at once, you never have to sacrifice. You can read multiple genres, different authors, and different styles of prose. This way you can also balance reading for work and reading for pleasure. Students who have to write an essay on “The Great Gatsby” can also read “Infinite Jest” if they want. They can probably even finish several novels throughout reading “Infinite Jest” if they commit to it.
On the opposite side of that, if you have a HUGE craving for a story, but no narrative seems to satisfy it, you can read multiple books of the same type to subside that hunger. You can read ALL Harry Potters at once, you crazy kid.
Besides speeding through TBR piles and having a variety of life, you also get to make connections across books that you might not have otherwise. How does “2001: A Space Odyssey” relate to “Looking for Alaska?”
If this isn’t for you, that’s okay. Stick to what works, and read one book at a time. However, if you haven’t tried multiple stories at once, maybe it can fix some of your struggles as a reader. Many people who have made the switch love its benefits like Laura Sackton who was scared of the change at first.