If you are a monogamous reader, this may be your gateway into adventure. Or not. That’s okay. And if you love reading more than one book at a time, you’ve come to the right place. I have a lot of ideas about how to read more than one book at a time without feeling like you’re cheating on your current book.

For me, pairing is a way to create intentional connections between my books. And I use many kinds of pairing options, depending on the books I’m reading. Creating a book pair gives me shades of nuance in my reading life. Instead of becoming deeply enmeshed to one book, I can actually sink into a few just as well. But the variety in the pairing choices often help.

Being intentional about your book pairings is nearly as fun as pairing whisky with delicious winter foods. Or red wine with chocolate. Or rich dark roast coffee with croissants. You know you want to!

Why use book pairing

Sometimes you just need variety. One book isn’t enough. Or you might decide that your “to be read” (TBR) list is out of control. Reading multiple books at the same time can definitely help you finish more each month.

Did you ever start reading a book that wasn’t a great fit? Maybe it’s a slow starter or a writing style you’re not used to. Here’s where book pairing can help you. Pick another book you love and read them together. But don’t let yourself read a chapter of the great book until you’ve read a chapter of the slow starter. Alternately, I do this with percentages in ebooks. Ten percent in the slow book followed by 10% of the faster one.

I recently started a book I knew would be a difficult read. If I was going to get through it, I’d need a more uplifting pair for it. So that’s exactly what I did. During my typical reading time each morning, I’d read the uplifting book as I sipped my smoothie. Then, when my meal was finished, I’d nip into the difficult choice. Every morning I read the uplifting book while I ate. And then fit the other in during the morning. As an aside, I knew it wasn’t a book to read before bed since the topic was potentially upsetting. I value my sleep!

My current pair is really a triple, based on medium. This is my most common pairing or grouping. I’m listening to a fictional book club read. My print book is a nonfiction buddy read, and the ebook I have going is an advanced reader’s copy of a new novel. Everywhere I am, there’s a book ready to read.

Book pairing options
  • Fiction at night, nonfiction at day
  • Switch every ten percent
  • Chapter matching
  • Lighter reads and darker reads
  • By the medium—audio, ebook, print
  • Back list and current—same author or different
  • Books that match related reading challenge prompts
  • Because of their covers (for example one ugly, one pretty)

What kinds of pairings would you add to this list?

Give pairing a try

The worst that can happen is that you give up on a pair. Maybe one book becomes so overwhelmingly amazing that you can’t put it down. No worries. Now you have an opportunity to try another pair with the book you put aside. And maybe a different style of pairing will work better in the second round.

No one will judge you on your pairs. It’s strictly for you, but hey, if it makes your reading life easier or more fun, then why not give it a try? Pairing is a sweet and juicy way to read!

I’d love to know if you’ve ever done this, intentionally or not. And if I inspire you to reach out and try it, even better.