Reading more than one book at a time.

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Von

Puritan Board Sophomore
How many of you are reading more than one book at a time? Or if you have done it in the past - does it work for you? Can you keep track of the line of thought in both? Any advice?
 

Logan

Puritan Board Junior
I can't remember the last time I only had one book going (usually it's five to ten). I think my throughput is greater as I can shift around to a different subject when I feel a bit tired of one. I don't have problems resuming where I left off.

That said, I usually also don't keep a book on my "currently reading" list for more than a few months. I always try to come back and finish them within a reasonable amount of time.
 

TheOldCourse

Puritan Board Sophomore
I do but usually on different topics and read at different times. This helps keep them straight for me. I usually have a "secular" book going, either fiction or nonfiction, that I read before bed; a book of more devotional character, generally Puritan, that I read in bite sized portions throughout the week and more extensively on Lord's Days; and a more technical theological or church history book that I read in larger chunks when I have more time during the day or on a Lord's Day.

Sometimes the categories can get fuzzy, for instance my bedtime reading right now is John G. Paton's missionary memoirs which is hardly "secular", but is not something that requires a great deal of focused attention.
 

Dachaser

Puritan Board Doctor
How many of you are reading more than one book at a time? Or if you have done it in the past - does it work for you? Can you keep track of the line of thought in both? Any advice?
Yes, if we include the Bible as one of those books, as currently wading through A Puritan Theology:Doctrine for life
 

JimmyH

Puritan Board Senior
Not including my daily M'Cheyne 1 year Bible reading plan, along with a page morning and evening from D.A. Carson's For the Love of God (commentary on the daily readings) I generally keep to 3 books at a time. So far so good.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
At any one time I'm generally reading books relating to theology, history, my field, and something fun. If I have spare time, one will generally have more appeal than another.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
I usually have two or three that I alternate between depending on what I feel like picking up, but am actively reading. Then I have another dozen or so that I started and still intend to finish someday, but rarely look at any more. I don't know if those count.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
usually no more than 5. I keep track of the arguments in a google file. I also know how to annotate really well (which is why I once asked an ethical question on whether it was morally right for someone like me to annotate in library books because my annotations will help future readers get more out of it. It was tongue in cheek)
 

TylerRay

Puritan Board Graduate
I don't read many books at a time; I have three young children, I work 48-55 hours a week, and am a student (though my last undergraduate semester ended in December; that being said, I'll be starting seminary in a few months). Add to that the fact that I tend to be a rather slow reader: I get caught up in analyzing sentences, and it distracts me.

I am always reading something, though. When I was taking classes, I began to suffer from insomnia, and one of the remedies that helped me overcome it was to read a little before bed, to settle my mind. That being the case, I'm careful to make sure that I read some every night.

Right now I'm reading Warfield's essay on predestination from vol. 2 of his works, though I'll finish it today. Obviously, my reading is soon to be taken up with assigned reading from my classes.

At the same time, my work affords me the ability to listen to whatever I want while on the clock. So, I listen to lectures, sermons, or an audiobook. Right now, I'm listening to Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky.

I don't have much trouble keeping track of multiple lines of thought at a time; it's just the way I'm put together, I guess. My great weakness lies in keeping track of my immediate surroundings!
 

Gabriel Barnes

Puritan Board Freshman
I regularly read more than one book at a time, and it has helped me in many ways over the years. I usually try to keep my reading times for each book separate and distinct so as not to confuse material. This approach has been beneficial to me, but it is not without flaws; such as starting more books than you have time to read, and therefore failing to give attention to certain books which results in never really finishing some of those books. But all in all I encourage reading multiple books at a time!
 

JesusIsLord

Puritan Board Freshman
I find it terribly hard to finish books. I tend to get half way through the book and feel like I’m running a marathon with weights on.

With that said, I really hope to break that terrible habit. I try to just read one book at a time but maybe I should try reading a few at a time. Maybe that will help me to finish books without feeling like I’m running in mud.

Any suggestions?


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Unworthy_Servant

Puritan Board Freshman
I delve into about three or four books at a time alongside my Bible reading. I try to prioritize my Bible reading before I read anything else in the day (I'm doing M'Cheyne's one year Bible reading plan), and find that after praying and meditating over what Scripture I had just read prepares me to have a mind of Christ for the theological books I am reading.

I think it's beneficial to read more than one book at a time because it keeps your mind fresh and keeps you from getting bored/disheartened (especially if you're reading a thorough systematic or Jonathan Edwards lol :detective:)
 

Unworthy_Servant

Puritan Board Freshman
I find it terribly hard to finish books. I tend to get half way through the book and feel like I’m running a marathon with weights on.

With that said, I really hope to break that terrible habit. I try to just read one book at a time but maybe I should try reading a few at a time. Maybe that will help me to finish books without feeling like I’m running in mud.

Any suggestions?


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I think Spurgeon gives some good advise for that:

"Master those books you have. Read them thoroughly. Bathe in them until they saturate you. Read and reread them…digest them. Let them go into your very self. Peruse a good book several times and make notes and analyses of it. A student will find that his mental constitution is more affected by one book thoroughly mastered than by twenty books he has merely skimmed. Little learning and much pride comes from hasty reading. Some men are disabled from thinking by their putting meditation away for the sake of much reading. In reading let your motto be ‘much not many."

Happy reading!
 
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ZackF

Puritan Board Graduate
I don't do so lightly but quibble with Spurgeon's advice. I'd say to master excellent books and not just any book. To be fair, he may be assuming that.

Speaking of excellent or even good books, those are the ones I commit to finishing and re-reading. The older I get the less patience I have for mediocrity or repetition due to marketing (same stuff but recycled due to author's popularity.) Also, I skim business books lightly as a rule before digging in more closer unless it is a classic. For example I've read Drucker's 'Effective Executive' several times but I'm not wasting time anymore time than I have to on the latest corny parable book just because it is flavor of the month.

Re: OP, I think proper use of the Lord's Day implies multiple books or at least two. I leave 'secular' books aside then.
 

ReformedChristian

Puritan Board Freshman
I just finished Spring Classes for seminary this past semester and 2 of my classes required me to read 2 books for each one. What I usually did since I had a week to read was use one day to read all the chapters for one book usually within a span of 3 days, then use the remaining days to read the other book. I found by balancing them was easier for me then simply trying to squeeze it all in at the same time in one to 2 days.
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
Different "tracks" can help to keep things straight, such as different times, locations, and formats. Without a restraint on how many books or some sort of structure, some will get neglected for too long.
 

Von

Puritan Board Sophomore
Little learning and much pride comes from hasty reading.
Well that's one quote to remember! (I wonder if it applies to audiobooks?:think:)

Speaking of excellent or even good books, those are the ones I commit to finishing and re-reading.
Very true! I constantly delve back into my old books for days on end. I always took that as a sign that I need new books...
 

JimmyH

Puritan Board Senior
Speaking of reading many books ..... this podcast featuring Steve Nichols interviewing R.C. Sproul was interesting to me. Dr. Sproul, on the recommendation of his professor, John Gerstner, went to the Netherlands for graduate school.
He wanted the 'best' if he was going to do it and Gerstner recommended Berkouwer. So when he finally met Berkouwer R.C. received his first assignment. Thirty five books (35) and they were written in Dutch, German, Latin, and French ! He did not speak/read those languages.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Almost any fiction I read will be audio as I am going to sleep or driving.

I am currently listening to Leibniz's Monadology because it was free online.
 

AnnaBanana

Puritan Board Freshman
My friends and family always laugh at me because in my purse/backpack I am always carrying about 2-3 books that I am currently reading.
 

Grumman Tomcat

Puritan Board Freshman
Guilty as charged. I don't have trouble following the books. I often read for relaxation as well as edification. I've done it more often as I have gotten older. I'll pick up a book depending on my mood.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Some books I just read a bit at a time. A good habit for me is to take some fine English prose writer like Samuel Johnson and read a short essay or poem of his as I am getting ready for bed. Do that over a long period of time and you can knock out huge books over the year.

I don't have to worry about missing the larger argument since they are short essays or poems.
 
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