For years I was a one-book woman. Once I started a book, I didn’t think of touching another until I finished the book, or discarded it into my DNF pile. I didn’t understand how people could jump back and forth between pleasure books, or why they would want to. Ah, the good old days.
The first change in my reading patterns came about five years ago when I began listening to audio books while driving. I had recently moved to a town with no decent radio stations, and quickly tired of my music CDs. Out of desperation, I borrowed a few audio books from the library. Within minutes of listening, I was hooked. I then began listening to one book while driving (usually a reread of an old favorite by authors such as Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Nora Roberts, or Jayne Ann Krentz). Because these were rereads, I didn’t feel compelled to continue listening once I was home. Instead, I’d read a print book everywhere else – home, restaurants, waiting rooms, etc.
The second change in my reading came nearly four years ago when I began reviewing for AAR. I quickly learned that all review books are not created equal; I frequently picked duds. Plus, I refused to give up reading the books that I wanted to read – be they romance or mysteries – just because I was reading three to five review books a month. So, I came up with a compromise. I would carry one book with me everywhere to read away from home (usually my personal choice book). I would read another book (usually my review book) in my home. And I kept listening to a third book while driving.
But soon, a fourth book was added to the mix. Thanks to readers and staff at AAR, I became convinced of the wonders of audible.com. Once I became a member, I began downloading books to my iPhone. Bravely, I began listening to new books on audio, not simply rereads. However, I have problems listening to books on my iPhone while driving (too much external noise), so I still “reread” old favorites on CDs in my car. While walking or working out, and sometimes late at night, I’ll listen to a new read on my iPhone. And then there are those other two books I juggle back and forth. And to be honest, because sometimes the books I read for review are real stinkers, I sometimes bounce back and forth between two different review books.
Right now, I’m “reading” four different books. I’m doing a reread, while driving, of Jasper Fforde’s Lost in a Good Book. While walking, exercising, and cleaning house, I’m doing a first-time listen to Meljean Brook’s The Iron Duke, and will be doing an audio review of it for AAR. For my fun reading, I’ve just started a mystery by M.L. Longworth, Death at the Chateau Bremont. And for print reviewing, I’m currently reading Rachel Bailey’s The Return of the Secret Heir.
Now there is one exception to my multiple-book reading habit. When there’s a long awaited, much anticipated book, I drop everything else I’m reading and focus just on it. If the book disappoints, I’m back to multiple reading. But if it doesn’t, I read it, and only it, until I’m finished. This doesn’t happen very often any more. But on November 1, I’ll be putting aside everything else I’m reading in favor of the audio version of Alan Bradley’s latest Flavia de Luce mystery, I am Half Sick of Shadows.
How about you? Are you a one-book-at-a-time reader, or do you bounce back and forth between books? And if you listen to audiobooks, do you also read a print book at the same time?