Thoughtful Thursday: Monogamy is not for me

Recently I’ve read or heard several conversations about reading styles – whether you read one book at a time, or several.  Our own Amanda is a professed advocate of book monogamy, but that just seems strange to me.  This last weekend, I put my son to bed on Friday night, and when I went to go settle down on the couch, I realized that I had left my book at work.  What is a book monogamist going to do in that situation?  Watch bad TV?  Surf the internet?  But luckily, I am a polylibrous (I totally just made that up – is that correct Latin for a lover of multiple books at the same time?) reader. I always have multiple books going at the same time. Not only to avoid the dreaded book left at the office scenario, but there are so many other potential horrors I don’t have to face this way.

  1. Book left at office.
  2. Book stolen – aka borrowed –  by sibling.
  3. Or parent.
  4. Or spouse.
  5. Book dropped in bathtub and now must wait for the pages to dry. (This is why I will never get an e-book reader.)
  6. You are downstairs and your book is upstairs.
  7. Or vice versa.
  8. You left your book in the bathroom and now your brother is in there and won’t hurry up so you can get your book back.
  9. Your brother is reading your book that he stole in the bathroom because that’s the only room with a lock so you can’t steal it back from him.
  10. Baby is sleeping on your chest and book is not in arm’s reach.
  11. You aren’t in the mood for that book.
  12. Or that one.
  13. Or that one, either.
  14. etc.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsSee?  Doesn’t a polylibrous lifestyle make your life so much easier? While we all may not have the skills to keep 17 separate books going like my sister – who really was just in stages 7, 8, and 9 above for seventeen straight books – we all have the ability to read more than one book at the same time.  Try it, you’ll like it. :D

Or, explain to me why book monogamy is so much better.

Tell me, dear readers: Can you share your heart with multiple books at one time?  Or are you a traditionalist and engage in serial monogamy? And is there a better term than polylibrous to describe us multiple book readers? Reader of ill repute just doesn’t roll off the tongue.

Let us know in the comments and we’ll draw a winner from among all the commenters to choose a book from our ever-increasing stacks.


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RUTH ARNELL (on FanLit's staff January 2009 — August 2013) earned a Ph.D. in political science and is a college professor in Idaho. From a young age she has maxed out her library card the way some people do credit cards. Ruth started reading fantasy with A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — books that still occupy an honored spot on her bookshelf today. Ruth and her husband have a young son, but their house is actually presided over by a flame-point Siamese who answers, sometimes, to the name of Griffon.

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16 comments

  1. Anonymous /

    I am utterly polylibrous. I usually have 3 or 4 books going, and I try to distribute this among different subgenres as much as possible, so I don’t mix up the plot points. I read so much urban fantasy that sometimes this isn’t practical, but I do try. :-)

    Often one of these will be a less-demanding book (a children’s novel, say, or just something really fluffy) to read at bedtime when my brain has shut off.

    And sometimes I fall in love with one of my books and end up ignoring all the others while I finish it.

    Given how often I do leave books at the office, lose them in jumbles of stuff (usually while trying to hide them from my bibliovorous dog), or just need a break from this book or that, it works for me.

  2. Er, that was me.

  3. Ruth, my house has 2 stories, too, so I laughed at the upstairs/downstairs problem.
    Unfortunately, I’m the only fantalibrous reader in my house (other than my 11 year old son who isn’t likely to leave his Percy Jackson books for whatever I’m reading) so I don’t have to share.

    I’m really careful about not leaving books anywhere, since I feel nearly naked without one and am therefore just as likely to leave my office without my book as I am to leave in my underwear. Wait, that didn’t sound right….

    Anyway, I am, however, bilibrophilic (sounds like a liver disease). I read two books at a time: one in print which gets carried around as a book or on my Kindle, and one on audio which gets accessed often in 3 formats at once: on my MP3 player (for walking around, doing chores, exercising), on CDs (for in the car, though I’ll listen to the MP3 player in the car if I don’t have CDs) and on the computer so I can listen while doing mindless desk work.

  4. 11022601467939266056 /

    Guilty as charged. Mainly for those last three reasons and also my TBR pile is several hundred books long. What am I do to if I am in the mood for book #314? There’s a book on just about every flat surface in my house. Fortunately, I’ve been doing this for so long, that I have never had a problem mixing up story lines or characters. I could leave a book for months, then jump right back in where I left off.

    Polylibrous is a very Latin word. My brother always called me a book slut (affectionately) because I would give myself over to whatever book happened to be closest.

  5. I’m usually reading 3-4 books. At least one physical book, 1 book on my kindle and, 1 audio book that my boyfriend and I listen to together. I try to keep them in different genres to make it easier.

  6. I prefer to read one book at a time but if I’m reading a large hardcover, I do usually also have a small paperback to read that I take with me.

  7. polylibrous for me!!!
    I probably have…8 or more books going right now and I just received a new one in the mail yesterday (I shall have to resist the urge to read it as it is the 4th in a series). I am very guilty of the being bored with a book and not wanting to read a certain genre at the time. I do not have the issue of upstairs or downstairs and I have NEVER dropped a book in the bathtub. My siblings do not borrow my books although occasionally my mother has but she is usually nice enough to ask permission before thieving it away onto her TBR pile.

  8. Ruth- Here I thought you would be the odd-ball for reading more then one book at a time. Now it looks like Allisyn and I are the weird ones.

    I’ve thought about reading more then one book at a time, but just never followed through -like there is a mental block or something that won’t let me.

    I think if I listened to audio books, I could handle more then one at time, like Kat does.
    I’m also like Kat in that I’ve almost never forgotten a book. I take mine with me to work, and any place where I’ll be in a waiting room. In fact, sometimes, when I’m around the house or staying somewhere else, I even feel better just knowing whatever book I’m reading is within reach even if I know deep-down, I’m not gonna really get a chance to read it at the time.

    Wow,, I just realized, not only am I a one-book-man, I’m also very clingy to the book I’m currently in a relationship with… “I need many, many :censored: years of therapy”. :-((

  9. Whenever I’m reading more than one novel at a time, it means I don’t like one of them very much. I do occasionally have a short story collection or multi author anthology going at the same time as a novel – something to pick at when I only have a short amount of time to read.

  10. Polylibrous!
    Mostly because I read by what I’m in the mood for and that changes all the time. :) I have no problems keeping stories and characters separate. As I type this I’m sitting in a hotel room and I have markers in all the books I packed to read because I’ve started all of them.

  11. I am a serial monogamist although I think I might try reading a couple books at the same time to see what it is like.

  12. I prefer to think of the 17 book thing as a type of speed dating. I spend a chapter or two with each one trying to find the ones that fit my mood at the moment. I do usually have at least 4-5 books going in different genres at any given time.

  13. I used to be a one book at a time kind of guy. Recently, I have been reading two books at the same time. A forgotten half-finished book during a vacation started all the madness and now I can’t get off of it. It makes the plot too hard to follow and I don’t think I get into the books as much.

  14. Haha, I’m exactly like you! My wife is always surprised when we go to an appointment and I suddenly pull out a book. She’s always like, where did you get that? Well, I stash them all over because you never know.

    My philosophy is that if I have a book around I can always do exactly what I want to be doing whether it’s at the doctor’s, in line at the grocery store (usually audio), etc. etc.

  15. Polylibrous. Love that word. I’m always reading more than one book and my stack of unread books is very large. It’s one reason why I adore my Kindle–I have 600 books on it so switching to something else at a moment’s notice is incredibly easy.

  16. Like John, I always have several unread books stashed on my Kindle and on my MP3 player (though Kindle can do MP3, also, it just doesn’t fit in my pocket). That way, when I’m out somewhere and ready to start a new book, I have several choices.

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