Jillian wrote a really interesting post yesterday about feeling overwhelmed by her TBR list. I can definitely empathize with what she said about the feeling of obligation to read a certain book at a certain time making her not want to read that book. Reading is something we do for enjoyment, but feeling as if we should read a particular book turns reading into an obligation — and there is nothing fun about doing something you feel obligated to do.
Our enjoyment of books is partly dependent upon how excited we are to read them. We won’t much enjoy a book we feel we have to read, whether we feel obligated to read the book itself, or we feel we should be reading the book at this particular moment. This seems to be a very important point to Jillian, who wants to follow her reading whims and cravings, picking up whatever strikes her fancy in the moment. She says “I’d read everything on my Classics Club list at the same time as inspiration pulled, and probably have them all finished about the same time in 2017.” However, this is where we differ.
I have tons of respect for Jillian — her posts are beautifully written and full of insight — but her reading style baffles me! Although I understand her desire to read whatever is calling to her at the moment, I could never read that way! For most of my life, I have been strictly a one-book-at-a-time reader for a few reasons.
I prefer to be absorbed by one book at any given time. I want to be really interested in one book and to just live inside it for a little while. Juggling multiple books is distracting to me. It’s sometimes difficult to switch back and forth between different authors — you know that feeling when you’ve been reading one author for a while, and then you switch books and the different writing style feels really jarring and strange until you become more immersed in it? I don’t like having to change my reading mind-set each time I switch between different books. I want to be completely absorbed by one book and what one author has to say for the time it takes me to read it. Then, after I finish a book, I like to take a few days to digest it and let the messages and themes really sink in before diving into another work.
Also, I find it hard to keep my reading balanced if I’m working on multiple books. If I’m reading multiple books, I feel a need to balance my reading evenly between them. This leads to the feeling of obligation Jillian was talking about. If I read one book all afternoon and love it, I feel like I should read a different book in the evening — even if it isn’t calling to me. This is partly because if I don’t balance the books, I will end up ignoring the one I like less, and I probably won’t finish it. And I hate not finishing books. Although I’m a big fan of re-reading, trying to read a book I didn’t finish the first time makes me really impatient; I just want to get to the part I haven’t read yet, but I can’t skip to it because I can’t remember enough of what has already happened. Therefore, I must give each book I’m reading equal attention to make sure I finish them all! If I’m reading just one book and I don’t particularly enjoy it, I can blitz through it and then move on instead of letting it fester and feeling guilty about paying more attention to a different book.
Although I typically prefer to read one book at a time, I have recently found a way to balance multiple books that works for me! I’m currently participating in the Bleak House read-along over at Unputdownables, and I love reading it in addition to a book of my choice. The schedule breaks the reading down into small chunks (about 10 pages per day), which keeps the length of the novel from being overwhelming and leaves me plenty of time to read another book for pleasure (not that Bleak House isn’t pleasurable). Hooray for finding a balance!
What’s your reading style?