Several years ago in my now disbanded book club, I mentioned a book I had read during the month, other than the one that we were discussing. Surprised, one of the women in the book looked at me and asked, “you mean, you have time to read more than one book a month?” Well, yes I do, because I make the time.
I know that in the book blogging world, I would probably be considered a slow reader. In a typical week, I read one or two books. But compared to the average person, even the average reader, I read a lot. So where do I find the time? And how can I find more?
How do I make time to read? The single biggest thing that I’ve done is to stop watching television. Now I’m not against television. There are some shows that I think are absolutely brilliant and others that are just good fun, but television can be a dreadful time suck. When I had cable, it was all too easy for me to get sucked into marathons of predictable fare like Trading Spaces or E True Hollywood Story. (I would sometimes get sucked into the latter even if I didn’t care one bit about the person being profiled.) Once I gave up cable, it was a quick step to giving up broadcast television entirely. Now I have hours of unscheduled time free to read, or perhaps watch a video if I have one out from Netflix. And I don’t miss it that much. The only real downside is missing so many pop culture references in conversation, but let’s face it, I was behind on that stuff even when I was watching TV.
How else do I find time? I read over lunch at work. I try to carry a book with me when I’m likely to have to wait somewhere. I listen to an audiobook in the car. I just sneak in time when I can. And I am lucky that I live alone and don’t have kids or a spouse to distract me from reading.
But I do have another nemesis that I haven’t yet conquered, and if you’re reading this post, you’re probably acquainted with it—the computer. Blogging has done wonders for getting me motivated to read more—and more thoughtfully. But the computer can be just as much of a time suck as the television. I have a pretty good system for keeping up with my blog writing, reading, and commenting. I clear out my blog reader almost daily. (Skimming a lot and not commenting on every interesting post are the keys to my system.) But I fritter away an insane amount of time because I get sucked in and lose track of time, and before I know it, it’s time to get ready for bed, and I haven’t read a page all evening.
Last week, I installed a great little Firefox add-on called LeechBlock, which you can set to limit your access to certain Web sites. You can set it to shut you out between certain hours or after a certain amount of time. It has been very helpful because if I do get sucked into Web surfing, I can only fritter away so much time before I’m locked out. And I’m also learning not to try to read with the laptop open and Tweetdeck running. Why I ever thought that might be possible I’ll never understand.
So how do you make time to read? What are some of your biggest distractions from reading and how do you cope with them?
Notes from a Reading Life (January 12–17)
- Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh. It took a while for this book to click with me, but by the end I was in love.
- The Men Who Stare at Goats by Jon Ronson (audio). Exploration of U.S. military’s use of psychic and psychological techniques. Outrageous in several different ways.
- Testament by Alis Hawkins. Medieval art and architecture meets modern university politics. So far, it’s great fun.
- Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson (audio). A prim governess type meets a worldly young actress with comic results.
- The Ode Less Traveled by Stephen Fry. Lessons in writing poetry. Still plugging away at this. Most weeks, I’m managing one poetry exercise.
- The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (reread). For the LOTR readalong. I’m now just over halfway done.
- The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B Dubois. For the February Classics Circuit.
- The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud (audio). The first in the Bartimaeus trilogy. My family has been passing these books around, so I’m checking them out to see what I think.
I know, I know. I’m trying to slow down my acquisitions, but I make exceptions for books from swap sites that I can’t get from the library and Library Thing Early Review books.
- The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes by Janet Malcolm. From Bookmooch.
- Even the Dogs by Jon McGregor. LibraryThing Early Review program.
Books on My Radar
Everyone seems to be reading great books lately!
- Disturbing the Peace by Richard Yates. Reviewed at Book Snob
- A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd. Reviewed at A Work in Progress
- Field Guide by Gwendolyn Gross. Reviewed at The Indextrious Reader
- White Is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi. Reviewed at A Striped Armchair
- Here Lies Arthur by Philip Reeve. Reviewed at Things Mean a Lot
- Summer and The Bunner Sisters by Edith Wharton. Reviewed at A Striped Armchair
- The Good Parents by Joan London. Reviewed at Gaskella
- Stitches by David Small. Reviewed at A Life in Books
- Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve. Reviewed by Tales from a Reading Room
- Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster. Reviewed at Things Mean a Lot