12 Struggles You'll Only Understand If You Refuse To Read More Than One Book At A Time

It takes all kinds of readers to make the book lovin’ world go ‘round. There are readers who keep any number of titles open on their e-reader at the same time, bookworms who love to juggle several different genres at once, book nerds who dip into one title after another before committing fully to one read, and literati who arrange their reading material based on free time or location (think: Rory Gilmore’s bus book.) Then, there are monogamous readers — those folks (myself included) who can only ever commit to one single book at a time, from beginning to end. No. Matter. What.

While there are definite pros and cons to each reading style, there are just some struggles that only monogamous readers understand — challenges unique to the one-book-at-a-time crowd. Things like balancing book clubs, squeezing in re-reads, respecting reading recommendations, keeping up with the latest literary trends, and working through those sky-high TBR piles that never, ever seem to get any smaller.

If you consider yourself a monogamous reader — aka: your commitment to the book you’re reading rivals Noah Calhoun’s to Allie Hamilton — then you’ll definitely empathize. These are 12 struggles that every monogamous reader will understand.

1.That TBR pile that never ends.

Anybody else’s TBR pile (make that piles) reach the ceiling recently? Inevitably, the natural consequence of only ever reading one book at a time — no matter how fast you read — is that you rarely, if ever, read your way thought an entire TBR pile.

Two (or more!) of your favorite authors have books coming out on the same day.

As anyone familiar with the publishing industry knows, new books are somehow always, ALWAYS released on the same day each month. Ergo, it is the plight of monogamous bookworms everywhere that between two and 20 books you’ve been eagerly waiting for will be published on the exact same day — and you will definitely waste valuable reading time trying to decide which one to crack open first.

‘Overnight’ bestsellers.

It’s a fact of book-loving life that a book nerd will always be in the middle of a book — never are we not busy reading something, and rarely does much (if any) time pass between what we were last reading and what we’re reading now. Which is why the overnight bestseller (think: Gone Girl, Girl on the Train, etc.) is a monogamous reader’s nightmare. No matter how many of our friends tell us we just have to read such-and-such brand new title immediately, we’ve simply got to finish the book we’re currently immersed in first — meaning that we often find ourselves behind the books that are trending (and don’t even get me started on spoilers.)

Two words: book clubs.

I don’t know about other bookworms, but I personally have a problem with book clubs — in that I love them dearly and join them compulsively. For the monogamous reader, one or two book clubs at a time is manageable... but there have definitely been moments in my reading life when I’ve been a member of at least seven (sometimes more!) For anyone not counting, that’s seven books a month, plus all the other books I want to read. (Refer back to list item number one at this time, if needed.)

You’re really (really) struggling to finish a book.

I am seriously against any and all DNF-ing of books (for those less book-obsessed than I, DNF is “did not finish” in bookworm lingo.) But sometimes it is just SO HARD to finish a book that is dragging along or that simply isn’t speaking to me. And yet, as a monogamous and anti-DNF reader, I can neither discard the book unfinished, nor pick up another while I’m trudging through. Ugh.

The angst of deciding which book to read next.

For the monogamous reader, selecting your next read is like selecting your next lover — who do you want to spend private, uninterrupted, exclusive time with for 200 pages or more? No pressure.

The angst of someone lending you a book.

Don’t get me wrong, I love getting reading recommendations from friends as much as the next book nerd — but when you lend me a book, you’ve now interrupted my reading agenda with your reading agenda. No matter what I might want to read next, I HAVE to read what you’ve just lent me. If I have a finely honed queue of books I’m working my way through, this is enormously disruptive. I’m sorry, but it’s true.


I haven’t been a full-time student in more years than I’d like to admit, but boy do I remember the struggle of balancing my academic reading with my personal reading. When professors assigned several books at the same time, look out.

To re-read or not to re-read.

When you’re only committing to one book at a time, the book genuinely worthy of a re-read is hard to find. And yet, all us book lovers have them. It’s kind of like hooking up with your ex-boyfriend (the one you’re still on great terms with) even though in the back of your mind you know you have coffee scheduled with that cute guy you met at the bookstore last week.

When your book purchasing exceeds your reading speed.

Again, let me refer you back to list item number one. I don’t know about other readers, but if I continue to acquire books at my current rate, I will never be able to read all the books I own. Not even if I live forever (speaking of which, I wonder how Jesse Tuck’s TBR pile is looking these days...).

Factoring in magazines, newspapers, blogs, and all other non-book reading material.

Seriously, just kill me now. And don’t even get me started on where audiobooks fit into all of this.

The moment when you realize no matter how long you live, you’ll never be able to read every book you want to.

Forget finding the time to read all the books I own — what about all the books I don’t yet own, but desperately want to read?! This is the ultimate dilemma of the monogamous reader: accepting that whenever it is you reach the end of your book-filled days (hopefully at a ripe old age, tucked into your bed with a good book) there will always be books left unread. Sigh.