Sunday, July 08, 2012

Sunday Salon: Monogamy vs Polygamy

Recently I stumbled onto a conversation on Twitter between Carrie from Books and Movies, Unfinished Person from Still Unfinished and Xe Sands, author and narrator, regarding monogamous and polygamous reading.  It got me thinking about my own reading.  I once was a diehard one book woman.  On the rare occasion I might have two books going at once, one nonfiction and the other fiction, but I was never quite comfortable with that arrangement when I was in the middle of it.

When I read,  tend to immerse myself in a book, let it take over, and, not too long ago, I would have told you that I rarely had the urge to stray.  Once caught in the spell of a book, I was dedicated and loyal to it.  It had nothing to do with my being unable to keep multiple books straight at once, although I worried about that, and was more about my wanting to finish what I'd started.

For many years, much of my reading was done in big gulps.  I would spend hours on the weekends lost in a book.  My reading time during the week was limited to my half hour lunch break at work and maybe a half hour of reading before bed each night.  I couldn't really see switching from one book to another on a Saturday afternoon, especially not once I had my mind firmly planted within a book's pages.

With the birth of my daughter and my eventual return to working outside the home full-time, my world shifted, including my use of time.  My reading became more sporadic, reserved for my now hour lunch breaks, a page here and there during a slow moment at the office or between those at home chores if I am lucky, and a little bedtime peek if I don't fall asleep first.  My weekend reading is just about nonexistent.  I've gone from those big gulps to taking a sip here and there.  As a result, my reading has changed.

It didn't happen over night.  It's been a gradual change.  And not exactly one I planned or intended to happen.  It just did.

I no longer have the patience for slow starters, at least not to the degree I once did.  When I pick up a book to read, it has to grab me right away.  Otherwise, it gets set aside for another day.  I need a book that will pull me in as soon as I pick it up and carry me through the short minutes or hour I have to read, otherwise I don't remember what I have read or I find myself easily distracted. 

That isn't to say a slower book won't be perfect for me at another time.  Sometimes what constitutes a slower book one day, is what grabs me the next, whether it be the story, the characters, or the language.  Just that in the moment I choose to read it, it isn't working for me.  You could say this stems from my many moods as a mood reader.  I have always known my mood plays a part in what I choose to read and when; only, it's become even more of a factor in recent months.  So much so that my cravings have led me to stray.   I find myself going from book to book, starting one then another, whatever sounds best in the moment.

There are other, less significant, factors that I can attribute to my change in heart, I suppose.  For example, there are times I am limited to what I have on hand, sometimes literally what is in my reach.

In the quiet of the night when I do not want to wake the baby by turning on a light, my Kindle Fire is a blessing.  So, I often am reading an e-book.  My Nook and Kindle are light and convenient--turning pages is a breeze and so much easier to manage one handed when I am mobile and reading in short snatches.  At work, I am able to break out the paper books much more easily (although my e-readers aren't strangers to the office either), and so I often have one book going at work and another one or two going at home.

Occasionally I listen to an audio book on my drive to work (I don't listen on the way home since I have Mouse with me, and she prefers music).  It's not the most effective way to go about it, given my commute is 15 minutes.  That doesn't leave enough time to really get into a book and often I am stuck stopping at a not so appropriate spot, but I make do.

If you had asked me a year ago if my reading habits would change so much, I would have replied in the affirmative.  I was sure I would barely be reading at all.  I underestimated by passion for reading, something I didn't think was possible.  I didn't anticipate, however, that I would go from reading just one book at a time to sometimes juggling three or five--or even six. 

For the record, right now I'm only reading two books and listening to one.  Three if you count the book in my desk drawer I haven't touched in a month but keep telling myself I'll get back too . . . 

How many books do you read at a time?  Are you strictly monogamous or do you practice book polygamy? 




Time to announce the mid-way winner of the Merely Mystery Reading Challenge Giveaway!   The winner was chosen randomly among those participants who shared links to their reviews over the past six months.


Congratulations to Laurie of In Laurie's Mind 
You have won a book of your choice!


Thank you again to all who are posting reviews to the books you are reading for the challenge!



© 2012, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

34 comments:

  1. I usually in the midst of 3 books - one paper and an audio in my car and another audio on my phone. It recently occurred to me that I could listen to the audio on my phone in my car as well, but I haven't done it.

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    1. Kathy - I use my phone to listen to audiobooks in my car. I really should get a stand or something to make it easier.

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  2. I'm still pretty much a one-a-time reader. That being said, never say never. I have been sort of disconcerted over the huge slowdown my reading has taken since I've gone back to work. I knew it would, but still. My commute used to be something like yours when we lived in town and I worked at the library. I did not listen to audiobooks because I barely got started and was there. Now, my commute is 30+ minutes and will be even longer once school starts. I'm loving listening to a book and am managing at least a book a week there.

    Reading is an ever changing pasttime. I'm glad that we all can work it in around whatever is going on in our lives.

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    1. Kay - It is an adjustment, isn't it? Fitting in the reading around your work schedule. I am glad you are able to listen to audiobooks on your commute! That's the only reason I sometimes wish my commute was longer. LOL I'm still getting used to listening to audiobooks. It's not my preferred method of reading as I'm much more a visual learner. Sometimes though, I just don't want to hear myself think when I'm driving and audiobooks seems to do the trick.

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  3. I have the exact same experience as you! I used to read only one book at a time, but ever since I started university and had much less reading time, I've started reading a few books at one go, and what I read depends on my mood at a particular moment.

    ^_^

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    1. Eustacia - Isn't it funny how it works that way? You'd think we'd read just one book given we have less time to read and yet here we are finding it easier to juggle multiple books at once.

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  4. I definitely used to be a one book woman but then I discovered audiobooks and now I am always listening to one book and reading another book :) It works perfectly!

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    1. Kim - Having one paper book and one audiobook going does seem to be a good combination!

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  5. I have a hard time reading more than one print book at a time, but I sometimes will have more than one audio going at a time (one on the iPod and one in the car). Any more than that and I get confused!

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    1. Sandy - I'm surprised I haven't gotten confused yet. It's bound to happen someday though, knowing me! Haha

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  6. I used to be a monogamous reader, to, but not as much any more. If I am reading a long book, like I currently am, then I *need* to change it up with shorter books, too, to feel that I am making progress somehow. I also do audiobooks on my commute because I'm in the car almost 2 hours a day - has really helped me get through some books! I'm starting week 3 at work tomorrow and have already gotten through three books (granted, two were short, but still). It's tough to find time to read for me, too, at night because I'm tired. But hopefully I'll get into some sort of rhythm again!

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    1. Aarti - Probably the only blessing to such a long commute is being able to listen to audiobooks! I sometimes wish mine was longer so it'd make it more worthwhile, but then, there are too many reasons I am glad it's not too long!

      Work really cuts into reading time, doesn't it? I know what you mean about being too tired at night to read. Some nights it is impossible for me to keep my eyes open long enough to get in even one sentence.

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  7. I used to read only one book as well but now that I have an e-reader I constantly have at least two books on the go. Right now I have 4 books that I'm currently working on since I'm also participating in The Stand read-a-long. Hope you have a great week!!!

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    1. Samantha - I am reading The Stand too and have needed to take a break now and then. It's been nice to have a side book going. As Aarti mentioned in her comment, it feels like I'm at least making progress if I read shorter books while trying to get in the thicker book.

      I hope you have a great week as well.

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  8. Well, you already know that I'm poly-amorous, when it comes to books, at least! :) Right now, I have four print books going (five, if I count the one I'm reading aloud to the boys), and two audios. It works for me as long as they're all different - no similar genres or subject matter.

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    1. Carrie - I think books that are different can make a difference in an easy transition from one to another--and for keeping books straight. So far I haven't had too much trouble, but I do try to mix the genres just the same.

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  9. I am typically reading four books at a time. Two in print, one ebook and an audio book at the gym. I don't think this makes me read faster but it seems to work for me. My brain is all over the place these days so it helps to break up my reading to fit whatever I am doing at the time.

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    1. Ti - I am not sure about it making me faster either. It seems to fit my current lifestyle and mindset though, and that is what matters. It sounds like you're in a similar place

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  10. I used to read a bunch of books at once, but then I got to a point where I couldn't finish any of them. So lately I've been a one-book girl with a stack of more sitting next to me.

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    1. Lauren - I can see how that could happen, especially if you have too many going at once. I wonder if I'll go back to being a one book at a time reader when my daughter is older and I have more time to read at home . . .

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  11. I always thought I would be a monogamous reader as well, but now that I am finding less time to read, and preferring audiobooks, I have 4 or 5 books going at one time. I have, at the moment, 2 in print, and three on audio. One I listen to in the car with my husband, the other we listen to before bed, and the last is a personal listen for those hours when my brain just needs to hear a story. I have been swamped with slow paper reads lately, and my brain is just tired of them. I just picked up Gone Girl last night, and I think that will be the book to get me out of my slump. It's hard to believe that I have so many going, but it's true!

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    1. Heather - I am not sure I could juggle audio books, but maybe that's just an issue of practice--and given I have so little time to listen to books in the first place. Still, I think it's great you are able to manage it!

      I've heard such great things about Gone Girl. I hope you will enjoy it when you read it!

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  12. The difficult thing for me is that when I put aside a book because it does not catch my interest that seems to be the end for that book and I find it very hard to get back to it. For that reason I try to read just one at a time.

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    1. Mystica - I sometimes have that problem too. In fact, I'm kind of having that issue with a book I started a couple of months ago. Do I want to give up on it or will I go back to it? I'm still not sure. And when I do go back to it, will I have to start over just to remember what happened?

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  13. My increase in the number of books read at once had to do with blogging, and the amount of books that I had on hand. Prior to blogging I went book shopping once a year at the library book sales and stocked up. Of course back then I actually used to read most of the books that I owned. :) Now I have so many unread books that I want to read them all at once. I do love reading nonfiction and fiction at the same time. And sometimes if a fiction book is so good that I don't want to read anything afterward - then at least I have the nonfiction to fall back on.

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    1. Alyce - Reading a fiction book and nonfiction book at the same time seems like the best combination.

      My personal library definitely increased when I began book blogging. I was at the bookstore every week just about for a while there.

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  14. I am not monogamous at all. I always have at least three going, more if you count the ones I'm "going to get back to soon." I have always been this way and can't imagine it any other way. There are times when I blow through one or two in a row without picking up another, but there is never a week where I only dip into one at a time. If that makes sense.

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    1. Lisa - I used to wonder how people could juggle more than one at once.

      Since beginning The Stand, I've read a few books straight through before going back to The Stand. And I'll probably do that again before I finish it. LOL I seem to have stalled on The Stand, but I really do want to get back to it. Just not sure when exactly.

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  15. I used to be purely monogamous but I'm getting better at juggling. Usually it is the fic and nonfic balance and/or through in an audio to the mix; it doesn't often happen, tho.

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    1. Care - I can see that combination working out quite well, especially given the two totally different formats.

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  16. Interesting topic! I almost always have 4 books going (short story collection, eBook, audiobook and fiction/non-fiction book). My audiobook listening has increased dramatically this year, as well as my eBook reading. We just have to adapt our reading to the changes in our lives and we'll be good! :)

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    1. Joy - You are so right. It's all about adapting our reading to our lifestyle. I'm just happy to be reading, anyway it comes. :-)

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  17. It's funny that having Gage and limited reading time has given me less patience for the slow starters too. One day I'll be able to read long books again, but unless it's on audio it's not going to happen now!

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    1. Stacy - It makes sense though, doesn't it? We have less time so when we do sit down to read, we want it to be something we are interested in right away. I am glad I'm not the only one!

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