Multiples no problem for most readers

Last month when I wrote about sticking to one book at a time — one novel, anyway — I asked for your thoughts on the matter. Judging from the response, those of us who are "single-bookers" are in the minority. Most people who wrote in said they have at least two books going at a time, and they offered some interesting philosophies on the subject.

Beth Evans put it simply, and elegantly: "I have more than one friend I visit with at different times during a day or week. Novels are my friends so I can read more than one at a time."

Mary K. Bird-Guilliams, who works at the Wichita Public Library, says she reads up to six or seven books at a time, usually with one nonfiction and one audio among the novels.

She offered a reason that I hadn't really thought about. Overall, she said, "it's largely a mood and 'appetite' thing; books come in different 'food' groups, mind candy and solid food, etc."

Other multi-bookers divide their multiple books geographically — by what room in the house each book lives in.

Greg Coykendall said he has a "living-room book," a "bedroom book," and "always, ALWAYS a book to take with me if I anticipate long waits." Sandy McCuistion agrees. "I keep my novels straight by place," she says. "That is, the place where I read them. I have an upstairs bedtime book, downstairs recliner book, dining-room table book."

One book is mobile and one's at home for real estate broker Sharon West, who has audio books for all the time she spends in her car, and a different book at home on the nightstand.

Genre, not geography, is the factor several other readers cited in how they keep multiple books straight.

Ruby Jones says "a murder mystery, a good fantasy or science fiction, and a period piece can all dwell in peace in pieces in my mind." Del Smith "realized that I read different genres at different times of the day."

Becky Hopkins says she has no confusion switching books "because each book is so completely different from the other that there is no chance of that happening." Chris Cooper notes that he enjoys the diversity of having several books going, "especially if one is a plodder."

Melissa Fox, in her blog Book Nut (http://, was one of the few who agreed with me. Well, sort of.

"For many, many years . . . I only read one book at a time, savoring it fully to its conclusion (whether it was good or bad) before moving on to another one. And, honestly: for the most part, I still do that."

However, she adds, "there are now so many more books I want to read and not enough hours in the day, that I feel almost compelled to double-book. I choose novels that are so far removed from each other they're easy to keep straight." Back to the genre distinction.

Larry McLean was the only single-booker who wrote in. "I have been known to put one down and go to another for some reason, but if I do it means I am not very interested in the other."

Good to know I'm not alone out there, with my book. Thanks to all who wrote in.