The Pros and Cons of Buddy-Reading

I bought myself Fuzzy Nation early this year, and I finally got the chance to pick it up this weekend. I got through the first two chapters and my husband saw me reading it.

“I wanted to read this one!” he said. (He can’t have wanted to read it that bad, it’d been sitting on my shelf for a few months, untouched.) “Do you mind if I read the first chapter? I’m kind of tired of Treasure Island.

And so we embarked upon our third attempt at partner reading a book together.

The first book we read together was Ready Player One. It was so much fun to do! We both enjoyed it. As a pioneering work in what I’ve coined “nerd fiction” we had LOTS to talk about, and we were on vacation, so passing it back and forth was no big deal.

The second book we read together was His Majesty’s Dragon, one of my personal favorites. But while I finished it, my husband lost interest about halfway through. At the time I thought it was because almost no books keep him interested long enough to finish, but now I wonder if it wasn’t because we had to move through it so slowly. I would take it to work, read a chapter, bring it home, and pass it off to him to read that chapter the next day. Very slow going.

This third time, again, we didn’t finish together. In the first weekend of reading we made it about halfway through Fuzzy Nation, but then he forgot to take it to work with him, and I just went ahead and finished it. Ooops.

So my first suggestion is that if you are going to partner read, GET MULTIPLE COPIES. Sharing doesn’t work very well, lol. (Our library didn’t have Fuzzy Nation, but we did try this!)

But the whole thing got me thinking. I really like buddy reading with my husband, it’s always one of my favorite ways to read a book. But there are definitely downsides. I noticed them when I did a book club of My Lady Jane with the Calendar Girls last year. So I thought it might be fun to compile a pros and cons list for anyone trying to decide whether they want to do a buddy read.

Pros

  • Getting to discuss a book as you go is always more fun!
  • Nothing brings friends closer like reading a book together.
  • I’m always thinking more about what might happen next when I’m buddy reading.
  • My buddies are usually very insightful readers, and I always feel like I understand a book better after talking with them.
  • Someone to gush or rant with.
  • Better material for my reviews. (Yes, if I’m not reading with a fellow reviewer I shamelessly steal their insights!)

Cons

  • Two books needed.
  • I don’t like reading at someone else’s pace. I always have to either slow down or try to cram in more than I really have time for when I’m buddy reading.
  • You have to be really careful of spoilers.
  • If you don’t agree about whether you like the book or not, discussions can either get heated, or get dull if you politely avoid disagreements.
  • Some books don’t have a lot to talk about. (Fuzzy Nation is turning out to be one of those…)
  • Finding a regular time to chat about the book can be difficult.

So what do you guys think? What do you like and dislike about buddy reading? Have you found anything that helps make buddy reading a better experience?

12 thoughts on “The Pros and Cons of Buddy-Reading

  1. I think I’ve never had a reading buddy like you described, but I did read books in the same period of time (+/- few months) with some friends … and I can totally relate to the advantages mentioned by you! Especially when it comes to better understanding a book and getting more insights. For example, I remember discussing about “Norwegian Wood” by Murakami with my brother and having many “aha!” moments 🙂

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  2. Totally agree with your points there. It can get tricky when one person is more interested in the book than another or reads faster, but I think buddy-reading is totally worth it because you get the chance to rant/rave with someone as you read along. That’s my favorite part. I also love that I notice more details when I buddy-read because of the other person’s input.

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  3. I can totally relate to this! I love buddy reading with my husband because it’s gives us something fun to discuss and talk about, but he is way more serious about language-learning than I am and only reads books in Mandarin. So not only do we need to find a book that we both want to read AND has been translated into Mandarin, but I always end up reading it faster because I’m the one reading in our native language. It’s still fun when we can make it work, though!

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    1. Wow, that’s crazy! He ONLY reads in Mandarin? I would go crazy not being able to take a break and just have a fun read in my native language! I also love having something to talk about. After you’ve been married for a while coming up with topics of conversation can get difficult, lol.

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  4. Hehe passing a book back and forth sounds like a fun way to buddy read, but I don’t blame you for going ahead- I’d do the exact same 😉 I definitely agree that two books are needed 😉 And you definitely have to be careful of spoilers when buddy reading. But yeah it can sometimes be difficult to fit buddy reading in.

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