Reading multiple books at the same time

I’m so relieved seeing how almost every profile I’ve looked at here has multiple books listed as ‘currently reading’! I usually have about 2-4 books I’m working my way through at once and I’ve come to terms with the fact that I take longer for a book simply because I get distracted by other books - but I never thought it was that common, haha.

How are you guys all handling reading multiple books? Do you usually switch what you read randomly or do you have like specific alternating phases for each? For me, it really depends on my surroundings: When I’m using public transport I usually read manga, but when I have an hour to sit down and read I absolutely prefer novels.

So far, I haven’t run into issues where I confuse plot points or names, but how about you?


I do this with video games… and with video games for me, I feel like not focusing on one game is actually a bad habit and I often leave games unfinished and forgot the stories, what to do next, etc.

But with learning Japanese, it seems more natural to me to switch around what you are reading. Especially since Japanese has kanji (which is often studied completely separately) and because Japanese is so situational (written Japanese vs. spoken) it seems like you constantly have to change things around.
If you ever study for the JLPT it’s the same thing, and even for the reading section you are constantly reading different compositions/essays.

I remember a long time ago reading someone who said they had two classmates in his college Japanese class who blew off class and spent like 9months trying to translate a few chapters of a light novel, and he said “as expected, they pretty much didn’t learn anything the whole year” That is interesting… if someone only does one thing it does give off the impression that they probably aren’t learning much.


Changes with the wind and my mood. So…utterly random unless I’m reading on a deadline like a limited-time-free type book or for a book club. Sometimes I will binge read and other times I am lucky to get even a few pages in a day. Some things I have paper copies, some I have audiobooks, some I have only on apps on my computer (honto and the like) and others I can read on my phone or tablet. Those all influence my feelings on what I want to read at the moment.

Never been an issue, but I suppose I don’t read much with plotlines that strike me as overlapping all that much. I have a book I started in February I haven’t finished but I still remember perfectly everything I need to pick it up again whenever the mood strikes. It’s on the honto app though, which I admit plays a role in why I’ve been so slow to pick it back up.


That’s such an important point! I didn’t even think of it, but that definitely influences me as well. I also usually read manga on apps (bookwalker in my case), so whenever I’m in a reading mood but only have my phone on me, I continue reading my current manga series.

I definitely also have a series I last read in February where I tell myself, I’ll continue reading it again for sure… Haven’t been in the right mood for it yet, though :sweat_smile:


My current books actually slot around each other nicely: I’m reading one on my Kindle and reading along to the audiobook with the other. Since I aim to listen to a chapter at a time with the audiobook, I usually save it for the weekends/when I have nice long stretches of time to listen all at once.

Normally I’ll have a manga on the side to just pick up whenever, a book club book, and a main book (if it’s not the book club book). Book club gets read first, and main book after that (which usually ends up making my main book progress suffer, since I’ll put it off if I get a chance >.>).

1 Like

I actually use the “reading” category wrong and just put a book there to remind myself to get back to it someday.

I tend to just focus on one series at a time until I get burned out with it (or complete it). Then I just move on to something else, thinking I’ll get back to it. Then, eventually, I do, but it’s then much harder to get burned out. For instance, when I was reading 鹿の王 (series) | L35 (except volume 1), I would usually take a break after finishing a part (there are 2~4 parts per book) and read something else. It took me a couple years to finish to 4 books for that reason (one of the breaks was 6 months long too :crazy_face:)
I don’t really know if that counts as reading them in parallel though. :sweat_smile:


Somehow I once ended up reading a novel and manga at the same time that both had お披露目. Was very unexpected haha.

1 Like

To the original question, generally I only read one novel at a time. If I start a second novel, there’s a very high chance I’d stop reading the first one, so I try to avoid doing that.

That said, I do tend to read 1-2 manga while reading a novel. I like mixing in the different styles and tones. When I’m reading two manga at the same time, I try to make sure they are different genres or formats. I read a lot of 4-koma comedy manga, but I typically don’t read more than one of those at the same time.


I absolutely do that!! Currently reading コーヒーが冷めないうちに which is also divided in 4 parts and I’ve been switching books after each part so far :joy:

1 Like

If I’m reading two books at a time, I have this rule that one of them must be lighthearted. I can’t handle reading two serious/dark books at the same time, so it’s nice to be able to pick up a completely different book and change moods.

Not at all.

For me it really depends on my mood. Usually I have one book that I try to work trough, but if I get bored with it or have the feeling that I want to read something else, I just do so? Otherwise, if I force myself to finish a book, even though I want to take a break from it, I’m not really taking it seriously anymore and just skim trough the pages without actually reading. If that makes sense. I do understand what is going on (more or less) but I can’t be bothered to look up vocabulary anymore. So that wouldn’t do any good for learning.

Me neither, since I picked up that habit in early childhood already.
Until about two months ago I couldn’t read more than one book in Japanese but for other reasons. Every book is written a bit differently, right? So, while I had no issues to remember the plot and characters and all, it still took me about a chapter at least to get used to the writing style of a book again. Picking a up a book again was really a pain. Now that I’m more used to reading in Japanese, I finally can read multiple books at the same time again.


I do one novel at a time as well, manga depends on the mood, can have 1 or 2 series reading.

I totally get what you’re talking about! I had similar issues with my first novels whenever an author made a choice of writing 者 instead of 人 or 無論 instead of もちろん

Forcing yourself to finish a book really is a surefire way to lose interest and the enthusiasm needed to make progress. That wouldn’t do any good for learning, indeed.


I absolutely hate-read Dear Friends | L25 as my first fully Japanese book :joy:

(First book was Harry Potter, so it was my first “exclusively Japanese” book if you will)

1 Like

Ideally, the books I’m reading are different levels and styles. It helps me push my boundaries without going insane or falling into despair. Also, I want to stay in the habit of reading something in Japanese every day, and it feels like if the only thing on my plate is challenging that’s a quick route to failure. And on the other hand, if I just aimed for material I could comfortably read all the way through, I’d never leave the world of children’s books/teen manga with furigana about school life.

Right now I’m reading the light novel 彩雲国物語, which is very hard for me. Depending on the scene, a 5-page section might have 30 new words and a totally new grammar point, and even a lot of the vocabulary I know is still in that “half-learned” state where it takes a real effort to recall and I may not do it correctly, and most of these words don’t have furigana to help. It takes a long time, and it’s exhausting. And after all that, all I read was 5 pages and even if I made a little progress toward being able to read this one specific genre, I didn’t actually get any practice or reinforcement of basic common Japanese. I’ve noticed that at times when my only reading material is really hard, my speaking ability, where it’s important to recall common words and use simple grammar. has actually degraded.

So I added a couple of much easier books to balance that out, and make sure that I’m still getting some extensive reading practice too. They both have full furigana, and for where I am right now I think it’s really good for me to read material with and without it, so that I get both practice and reinforcement. I’ve also been reading more manga lately in order to get more practice with dialogue.


Right now I’m reading 5 books: 3 for book clubs 2 on my own. I kind of just read whichever book whenever. So some days I’ll spend all my time reading one book, but other days I’ll read a little bit of all five. It’s pretty random.

Being in a book club helps with reading multiple things at once because then I only read the scheduled amount for the week, which I can usually get through in about an hour for each book. So far I haven’t found it overwhelming. Especially since I don’t let myself go past the scheduled chapters.

So then that just leaves the books I’m not reading in a club. I’ve found I can’t read as many books at once if they’re not in an ongoing scheduled club. But I can read them faster and then get to the next book I want to read :smiley: Or, alternatively, I can take months and months to finish a book… but I’m trying to avoid that lol

I’ve realized recently that two (non book club) books at once is a good amount. So right now I’m reading:

  • a harder book that takes a long time and a lot of dictionary lookups to get through
  • an easier book that’s a pretty light read

So that way if I want to push myself to improve my Japanese, I can read the harder book. But if I’m tired and just want to read something to keep with the habit, I’ll read the easier book.

Hasn’t happened with me, doesn’t happen to me with English books though either.

I do this too. I’ve been trying to get out of that habit since I keep forgetting what I was doing when I last played months ago and then it’s hard for me to get back into it Yakuza Like A Dragon I’m so sorry


I like reading two books at once: one “easy” book and the other a “harder” book. I like to meet a daily goal, so the easy one can help when in a pinch!

Often, if I have three books going at once it’s a sign that I misjudged the easy book. I find three books at once it can get little hard to remember what was happening or I forget a few names :laughing:

At the moment I am struggling, as it’s Tadoku and I already have a ‘hard’ book. Just need to find the next easy one (or go back to くまクマ熊ベアー!) The other thing I struggle with is completing series, there’s just so much out there I don’t want to get bogged down in a long LN series.


I have a bad habit of starting new books and then getting bored; just like with games. On the other hand, if I start something new it’s exciting, but I end up with a lot of unfinished stuff. If I stop myself from doing that, I’ll just end up reading less…

At least I usually try to limit myself to having one book that I read on my phone and then one on my night desk as a physical book.