Can You Read Two Books At Once?

Posted on SparkNotes July 20, 2009 by Dan Bergstein (Answers by Joie March 7, 2010)

Some people in the world are gifted with the ability to read two (or more) books at once. No, we don’t mean that one eye reads one book, while the other eye reads the second book. We’re talking about people who love reading so much that they usually have more than one book on their nightstand and can dip in and out of any novel whenever they’d like. Instead of completing a book before moving on to the next, these talented readers can keep up with multiple stories at the same time.

The ability to digest two books at the same time is a super power that is very real, and very interesting. If you are among those who have this ability, we have a few questions for you.

1 ) Can you teach us how it’s done, or does that go against the rules of your Two-Book-Reading Secret Society? There is no law against it, I’m happy to share.  The first rule is you have to love reading–if you do, half the battle’s won already.  The second rule is you must practice.  This is three-fourths of the second half of the battle (or three-eighths of the battle, if you prefer).  The last eighth is to know how to identify key aspects while you’re reading.  If you can say to yourself, “The author has set this up as a really important event,” then you’ll be fine.  You pointed out the important event to yourself, and so you’re more likely to remember it when you pick the book back up, even if it’s years later.  The cool thing is, if you remember these important events, then you don’t really need to remember the small stuff.  Authors don’t expect everyone to remember the small things, so when they refer to the small things again, they recap what they’re talking about.  Isn’t that super cool?

2 ) Must you register your powers with the government? Thankfully, no.  Or . . . they’ve yet to find me if I do.

3 ) Can you eat two meals (such as a turkey sandwich and chocolate chip pancakes) at the same time? I have been known to eat two entirely different courses in the same meal.  Blame all-you-can-eat dinner buffets–they’re too good for my own good.

4 ) Would you ever date someone who could only read one book at a time? (Be honest.) I’ve formerly been engaged to a reading idiot!  Since reading skills and a love of reading can be taught, I don’t care what level they’re at.

5 ) How does it feel to be envied? It’s a little strange, seeing as how I envy other people for their single-mindedness.  I lack that ability.

6 ) Do your ears bleed as you pay attention to two separate stories? Oh heavens no!  I think it would take a good many stories (think at least 15) for me to get a nosebleed from being up too late reading.  I’ve never known my ears to bleed!

7 ) Is a bully forcing you to read multiple books at once? (You can tell us. It’s OK.) Of course not.  Bullies make me eat peas, not read books.

8 ) Do you know what television is? I am a fan, though the pro to books is I can schedule my life how I want it without having to schedule around timed programming.  I watch most of my “TV” online because of that very issue.  But yes, I know what television is, and even own one.  I adore USA channel.

9 ) Can you move objects with your mind? Silly goose.

10 ) Can you tell what shape we’re thinking of? I’d need to be closer to study your brain waves and use my voodoo.

11 ) Are you reading so voraciously out of fear you’ll one day be blinded in a freak accident and you need to read as much as you can now because you don’t want to be forced to read Braille because you’re scared your unsuspecting fingers might glide over an icky spider? That would be a horrible eventuality. Really, I read so voraciously (nice word choice, by the by) because I love to learn.  Geeky as it sounds.

12 ) How many books did you read while reading this question?  I’m in the middle of three, not including dry textbooks.  Interesting texts made the list.

13 ) Are you lying about your talent in order to make us all feel horrible about ourselves? (If so, it’s working.) Never.  People feel horrible enough as it is, on their own, and of their own making.

14 ) When you finish a book, do you mount it on your wall like a hunter mounts a deer head? The equivalent in the reading world: placing the book alphabetically in its shelf.

15 ) Must you flex certain back muscles in order to focus on multiple characters and plots? Which muscles, specifically? No muscle flexing necessary.  Learn the art of a good, complete stretch, though.  And pick up an activity that is as equally active as marathon reading is inactive.

16 ) Did you happen upon your power by chance, or did a wise, yet strict mentor teach this to you inside a mystical cave? My dad–he introduced me to too many good books.  I had to split my attention just to keep up with the books he gave me.

17 ) As a cyborg, do you eat people food?  Nonsense.  I’m hardly a machine.  I consume people food gladly–it’s fantastic and delicious.  I may just become an epicurean for fun.

Endnote by me: I wish more people enjoyed reading.  It’s such an important skill in school, as well as a useful one in life.  Being a good reader, and a fast one (though that takes a lot of practice), can help you in a lot of situations.  One of the reasons I like SparkNotes is because they make reading fun, accessible, and even funny.  It’s comforting to know people are out there who still advocate the joy of reading.