How to make time to read more
I used to be able to read anywhere, and always felt vaguely sorry for people who claimed that they couldn’t read whilst they were in transit. I can read on trains, planes, and everything in between. But lately, my reading has taken a step back. I miss it, but I no longer seem to have the time for it. I read a lot for my job as an Associate Editor, and when I’m not reading at work during the day I’m either writing or curating material for articles.
This is one of my favourite images of all time; a teenage boy sits amid the ruins of a bookshop in London during the Second World War, following an air raid on October 8, 1940, with books scattered all around him and the chaos that must surely have followed the bomb raid; he is lost in a book entitled ‘The History of London’. There is something so poignant and powerful about the image – reading history and living history at the same time.
I sometimes wonder if I would be able to thrust reality aside like that and immerse myself in a book irrespective of what’s going on around me. I used to be able to read anywhere, and always felt vaguely sorry for people who claimed that they couldn’t read whilst they were in transit. I can read on trains, planes, and everything in between. But lately, my reading has taken a step back. I miss it, but I no longer seem to have the time for it. I read a lot for my job as an Associate Editor, and when I’m not reading at work during the day I’m either writing or curating material for articles. In the evenings, between squeezing in my chores for the day into the few hours that I have in the evening, and taking care of my pets, and cooking for the next day, I don’t have the time to pick up a book. My blog, too, has taken a backseat to my life.
So it is deeply ironic that I should write this article, about how to make time to read, when I’m not able to do the same at the moment. I really should take my own advice more often, and I promise to give it a go. Maybe you will too.
Have a reading nook
Designate an area in your house as your reading nook. Whether it’s a corner by the bookshelves or a spot in your bedroom, make sure you set aside an area for your reading alone. Drag a comfy chair into your nook, arm yourself with drinks and nibbles, and settle down in your nook to get some reading done. If, like me, you read a lot for your work, make sure you put your laptop or your tablet away and read only for pleasure. Let your nook be a symbolic space where you pick up a book that’s not for work and enjoy it.
An hour or so
You also need to compartmentalise your reading time; having a nook isn’t the only important thing. Whether it’s half an hour, an hour, or longer, make sure you choose a time and stick to that time rigidly. If you find your mind wandering towards work or the week (as mine does) bring it gently but firmly back to the present, and back to your engrossing book. This is, of course, easier said than done. But I’m willing to bet that if you consistently and consciously demarcate a set time during your day to your reading, then you’ll be able to actually get some done.
Audiobooks are valid
Audiobooks are often seen as invalid and as a pathetic alternative to actually reading a book. I’m here to tell you that it’s not true. Audiobooks count, and what’s more, they’re geared towards your convenience because you can listen to a book whilst doing something else. If you drive yourself to and from work or find it difficult to read on your daily commute, simply pop the earbuds in and let yourself get taken away to another world.
Five more minutes
I know I have a section up there saying that you need to take an hour out of your life to read. But the truth is that it doesn’t have to be an hour. You can snatch minutes out of your day to read a page or two, depending on what you’re doing and where you are. I’ve gotten into the habit of reading whilst having my lunch at work, and although that’s only for half an hour, it’s still x number of pages that wouldn’t have been read if I hadn’t taken the time to read it. It’s all very well to block a certain amount of time for your reading (and you should still do that) but snatching minutes during the day counts too.
Put it away
We’ve all experienced the books that we just can’t finish; the beginning isn’t interesting enough to grip us and we keep plodding away at it until we’re about fifty pages in and it still isn’t sucking us in. Maybe it’s a book recommendation from a friend or a family member, or maybe it was on the NYT bestseller’s list, or maybe it’s a book you’ve been putting off because you want to savour every moment, and then – nothing. In this instance, there’s no point in persisting with something that feels like torture. Put it away and focus on another great book that will grip you right away.
Invest in an e-book reader
I used to be adamantly against e-books and e-book readers; it’s not a real book unless you can hold it in your hands and turn the pages and then, of course, there’s that new book smell that you just can’t get in e-books. This is all true, and I’m still a fan of paper books, but there are times when e-book readers can come in handy. Say you’re going away on vacation and you have limited space and luggage weight and you’re packing your book and your back up book and your book in case you finish reading the first two books and book number four – and stop. An e-book reader is slim, light, and can hold tens of thousands of books. How could you argue with the convenience of that?
Set realistic goals
It’s easy to lose sight of the target goal (making time to read more) when the end goal isn’t broken up into smaller and more achievable goals. It can seem too daunting to have ‘read 100 books this year’ as a challenge, and then watching the year slip past and speed up as you stand there with not a single book read. I know the feeling. So don’t do that. Break your goals up and set more attainable targets. Instead of reading x number of books this year, aim to read all the books in an entire series, or read a set number of books according to your favourite genre. There are any number of reading challenges on the internet; all you need to do is pick one and stick to it.
So there you have it – how to make time to read more. What will you be reading today?