Reading habits: Serial monogamy or open relationships?

book love 2

I’ve been unfaithful.

Oh, the shame.

book loveI’m usually a serial monogamist when it comes to my reading habits. Give me a book and time to read it, and I won’t look up until I’m done. Hand me another while I’m still reading the first, and straight to the book pile it goes.

I know plenty of readers who need a few books going at any given time, but that’s not me. I like the immersive experience of diving into a fictional world, hanging out with the characters, and devoting all my love to my one and only. Trying to maintain more than one relationship just doesn’t work for me.

And yet…

Yesterday, I cheated. I’m two-timing, and now I’m torn between two relationships. They each want my time and attention. There’s something so attractive about each. They fill different needs in my life, and they both make me feel good. Don’t make me choose!

Hee. Melodramatic much?

The mundane background is this: Yesterday, I had to drive my son to what was supposed to be an all-day event taking place in a town about an hour’s drive from home. The plan was that I’d drop him off at 10 in the morning, and pick him up at 10 pm. All good so far. About 15 minutes after leaving home, the kiddo expressed doubt. Normally, I’d tell him to suck it up and live up to his commitments… but he struck where it hurt: If he stayed for the entire event, he wouldn’t have enough time to do a good job on a school assignment. Wow, sneaky. I agreed to pick him up after the first part of the event, at which point it wouldn’t make sense for me to drive home and then go back, so it was off in search of a Starbucks I went to while away a few hours.

Problem? No book.

I was mid-way through a sci-fi/detective story that I was really enjoying, but anticipating just driving there and back, I didn’t have the book with me. Silly me. I normally NEVER leave the house without a book. What was I thinking?

Stuck in a coffee shop with hours to kill, I simply had no choice. I opened up the Kindle app on my phone and started a new book, an ARC I’d received for a romantic story by an author whose works I’d enjoyed previously.

And it was good.

I read about 35% while waiting to get back on mom duty. And then I had a dilemma: Keep going with the new book, which I was into at this point, or go back to the original book I’d been reading?

Either way, my heart and mind will only be halfway devoted to the book I’m with. I may be reading one, but I’ll be wondering about the other. Am I doing the right thing? What if the other one isn’t as good when I go back to it? What if it pales by comparison — but if I’d never strayed, I might have been perfectly satisfied? How can I be happy with just one when I know there’s another one out there that I feel drawn to?

Oh, the torment of a cheater’s heart!

I’m sure I’ll get through it, but I have to ask: What’s your relationship style with the books in your life?

Are you a serial monogamist — one book at a time, no room for another, until you’ve gotten all the way to the end and you’re ready for something new?

Or do you prefer an open relationship — why limit yourself to just one when there are so many options? Do you read several books at once, going from one to another as the mood strikes?

Right now, as I debate which of my two books to continue with today, I’m thinking that I’m not cut out for the two-timing lifestyle. Once I finish one (or the other), it’ll be back to monogamy for me!

20 thoughts on “Reading habits: Serial monogamy or open relationships?

  1. I’m a monogamist to the absolute core! I’ve tried the whole “read more than one” thing…. and tried, and tried again. EPIC FAIL! I simply can’t do it. Looking at your “currently reading” list, I’m trying to figure out which two you’re referring to… I’ve read The Bronte Plot, and just picked up a copy of The Boys in the Boat… I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts on both!

    • I’m actually torn between The Bronte Plot and Depth, and keep bouncing between the two. It’s very distracting! The Boys in the Boat is my current audiobook — and somehow, I don’t consider having one print book and one audiobook at the same time as a conflict at all!

  2. I always have an audiobook and written book going at the same time so I guess that makes me book polygamist. Lol. But I know that feeling when you are somewhere without the book you want to finish. Love the book apps on the phone-have about 4 of them for emergencies.

    • Pauline, I wasn’t even including my audiobooks when I wrote this post! Ever since I discovered audiobooks a few years ago, I have to have one going whenever I drive or exercise. So, I suppose I am always in the middle of two books (print and audio), but I usually never have more than one print book or e-book at one time. I’ve been bouncing back and forth all weekend!

  3. i’m a serial cheater – i never have less than about 2 books going at once (including my current car audiobook) – right now about 5 in progress…don’t judge me please 😉

    • Ha ha, no judgement here! I don’t even count my audiobooks! I always have one going in the car as well — somehow I don’t see that as a conflict at all, but I just can’t stay focused when I have more than one physical or e-book going at once. 🙂

      • i have a really short attention span when it comes to reading – i’m interested in the book, but my mind starts to wander…so i counter that by having a couple different ones going – normally all in different genres/sub-genres (so maybe a historical romance, a contemporary romance, a mystery and a NF – or something like that) – and i just bounce around between them, depending on what kind of mood i’m in

        • I can see that working! I think I’d lose the thread of the different plots if I tried that, but I can see the appeal of having a few different genres going to suit my moods.

  4. I used to be scrupulously faithful to my books: I would only read one at a time, and I wouldn’t look up until I was done. But there are so many good authors and so many good stories, and I got to the point where I had to start reading two or more at a time if I was to have any hope of getting through my ever-expanding reading list (still haven’t gotten through it yet, of course…)

    • I don’t think anyone ever actually gets through their reading lists! 🙂 I can see your point about wanting to get to them all — but for me, it has more to do with my ability to focus and get absorbed. I get that different approaches work for other people, though!

  5. 99% of the time, I am a monogamous reader. When I start a book, I am in it and can’t focus on another one until I finish the one I am on. But sometimes, I am just in the mood for something different. For instance, while I was reading Jane Eyre (which I loved, by the way), I just felt like moving to something else that was less serious and less time consuming. So I started reading a YA contemporary that was lighter. And I moved back and forth, depending on my mood. Times like that are really the only times I cheat on my books. 🙂

    • Makes sense! I can see how that would help a lot. For me, though, if it’s heavy or requires a lot of effort, I’m usually afraid that if I leave for something lighter even temporarily, it’ll be even harder to go back. The only time bouncing back and forth usually works for me is if I’m trying to get through a book of short stories, which I usually don’t have patience for. I’ve found that if I just read one or two stories at a time and then switch back and forth to a novel, I can handle the stories without feeling super frustrated.

  6. I usually read two books at a time, but I don’t read them together at the same day, and one of them would be an ebook and the other would be a paperback. I think I prefer doing that, just because of convenience (ebooks are waaay lighter!).

    • Yes… I wasn’t even thinking about my audiobooks when I wrote this post! I always have a print book going at the same time as an audiobook… somehow that works for me, even though two printed books at a time is beyond me.

    • In terms of audio — me too! I wasn’t really thinking properly when I wrote this post, it seems, since I completely overlooked the fact that I typically have an audiobook going whenever I”m in the car in addition to whatever print book or ebook I’m in the middle of. 🙂

  7. Haha — I love it! I used to be a serious book monogamist, but have changed my ways in the past couple of years. I do like to have a “main” book that gets most of my attention, but I also read others. At the moment, I have my December book club book in print and the third in a series I’m finishing up on audio. In addition, I have Aesop’s Fables I’m working my way through reading to with my son and I am pretending that I am working on a re-read of Drums of Autumn (though the sad truth is that I’ve been on the first chapter for weeks now!) I’m really not loving the book club book right now and am tempted to pick up something else, but I think 5 would be pushing it, LOL.

    • Ha, even 4 sounds like a lot! But when I think about it, I’m not as much of a monogamist as I think I am, because I always have an audiobook going as well as a print book, and then there’s my book club, and my classics/book club read… oh, it’s bad. 🙂

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