It’s no secret I love to read. I have loved to read since I learned 30+ years ago. For me it is not a question of if I will read, it is how I will find time to read?
I firmly believe that if you want to do something badly enough you will find a way to do it, within reason. No matter how badly I may want to play professional basketball (I don’t) I will never find a way to do it.
I have a lot of things I want to do in my free time, but when push comes to shove there are some things that I MAKE time for. This is how I know what my favorite past-times are – reading always, exercise sometimes.
Yes, I read 64 books, and I work full-time, have this blog, raise two children and find time to exercise. How do I do it all? Well, first of all, there are a lot of things I don’t do, and second I can’t stop myself from reading.
As my seven year old niece says, “I have the reading disease.”
It’s a disease I can’t get rid of, which is fine by me because I sort of love it. The only way to treat it is to read A LOT.
So if you too have the reading disease, but you are struggling to find time to “treat” the disease, I have some ideas you will want to try.
How I find time to read:
Read multiple books at once
Yes, I am in the middle of multiple books at one time, and no I don’t have any trouble keeping track of them. At any given time, I could be in the middle of 2-5 books. I am never reading two books by the same author at the same time and typically, but not always, they are completely different genres. By reading multiple books at once, you never have to worry if you’re not in the mood to read the particular book you are reading. Even for people with the reading disease, there are times you’re not in the mood to read or to read on a specific topic.
When I was reading Jodi Picoult’s Small Great Things, it was a bit heavy for me at times. I had to take a break and read something completely different and lighter. The same thing has happened when I read Dave Cullen’s Columbine and Margaret Atwood’s, The Handmaid’s Tale. All were great books that I wanted to finish, but I knew I needed more time to digest them. In the meantime, I picked up another book in a different genre and continued reading.
I enjoy reading a lot of personal development books, and I liked to take those slow as well so I can let the information sink in. I am currently in the middle of three of these type of books along with two fiction books.
Audiobooks allow me to listen to books whenever I am on the go. I never listen to a book while I am sitting, those moments are for actual books you hold in your hands. When I am not listening to podcasts, I am usually listening to an audiobook. I discovered years ago, back when I had to have a Discman and lots of CDs’s with me, how many more books I could consume if I listened to them while I drove and worked out.
Sometimes I don’t even mind a long car ride alone because it means I can listen to an entire book. Even short drives around town can allow you listen to books fairly easily. You will be surprised how many hours you can listen to a book just while you’re shuttling kids to and from activities. I typically have at least 15 minutes in the car alone after school and day care drop-offs. That alone equals 1 hour 15 minutes a week. Plus when I am driving for work I can log hours each day of listening to books.
I also listen to books while doing chores around the house and while working out. If you see me at the gym with headphones in my ears, it is not going to be music I’m listening to.
Audiobooks can be more expensive to buy than regular books, which is why I don’t buy them. I check them out through my library. It is easy to do, and they get downloaded right to my phone. If you are not familiar with how to do this talk to your librarian. They love to help. Another option is an Audible subscription. They offer free trials so if you haven’t tried them you should.
Always have a book handy
I am rarely without a book. It seems there is a lot of hurry up and wait in life, and I have learned to embrace (usually) these free moments of waiting. I don’t like to be late for appointments, so I typically end up places early, but if I always have a book handy, this is not an issue. When I pick Cassidy up from an activity, I always have a book handy in case they run over. I get far less annoyed when things run late if I have a book with me that I can sit and enjoy while I wait.
We live in a town with train tracks that cross through the middle of town, and they are freight trains, so there is not set schedule. I have to cross these tracks going to and from Amelia’s daycare. I have logged many hours over the years of reading waiting at those tracks.
One time I went into a ditch, after taking out a road sign, on my way home from book club. Due to the bad weather, it took forever for the tow truck to come. The worst part about that experience – I had nothing to read. I was stuck in my car for several hours with no smartphone (before me coming to the dark side), and the only book was the one I had read and just discussed. You can bet I’m never getting caught like that again.
It’s not always easy to have a hard copy of a book with you everywhere, which brings me to my next suggestion.
I bet you have a smartphone. It seems I may have been one of the last people to get one. You can easily download the Kindle or Nook app to your phone. You can choose to buy books for the Kindle or Nook or borrow them from the library. Of course, I borrow them. Remember I’m
cheap frugal and I don’t spend money on things I don’t have to. Kindle offers free books every week as well so you can download those and save them for later reading.
Also, sometimes when you buy a book they give you the Kindle version to you free. This happens a lot when you pre-order a new release book.
This is another way that I manage to be in the middle of multiple books at one time. I usually have one on my Kindle I’m reading, an audiobook and then one or two physical books. My preferred method of reading is with a physical copy in my hands. However, I have found having a book on an electronic device to be rather useful.
While the convenience of reading on an electronic device, I caution you not to do all of your reading this way. It’s not the best way to wind down before bed, so if you are a nighttime reader, your e-device could cause you stay awake longer. Also, the children in your life need to see you reading. They may not understand with an e-device that you a reading and they need reading modeled for them from a very early age. Kids start mimicking our actions even as infants.
Read different genres
I find that if I stay in the same type of genre for too long, I get a little burned out on reading and need to take a hiatus from reading. This can be difficult though because reading is the number one activity I choose to do for myself. If I’m not reading, then I’m probably also not taking care of myself and allowing myself “me time.”
My favorite genres to read are fiction, mysteries, and personal development. Try alternating what genre you read from to keep the reading fresh and don’t read two books by the same author back to back. Know who your favorite authors are for palette cleansers- the books that you don’t have to think and are simple, easy reads for you. James Patterson is one of my palette cleansing authors.
Challenge yourself to try a new genre as well. After listening to the book The Power of Habit, I became interested in learning more about Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. I have decided to branch into some more historical books this year.
Set aside reading time
In addition to sneaking time into your day here and there, you should set aside a time for reading. This could mean you always start your workout with a 10-minute bike ride on the stationary bike and you read while you do so. You could plan to read 15 minutes every morning or during your lunch every day. We occasionally have family reading time after dinner. Once the table is cleared up, we all grab our book and sit in the living room reading together.This is in addition to reading with the girls in their rooms before bed, which is a nightly ritual.
My goal every night is to be ready for bed by 9:00 p.m. and then read for a half hour. Some nights I am too tired and go right to sleep, but most nights I get at least 15 minutes of reading in bed before I fall asleep. It’s a great wind-down activity. I have been known to stay up way past my bedtime reading if a book is really good. For example, the huge plot twist in I Let You Go came one minute before I was going to close the book and go to bed.
You are also modeling for your kids the importance of reading. Not everyone is going to love reading, but it helps if kids see that it can be fun.
Sneak it in when the kids aren’t looking
Yes, it’s important that the kids see us reading, but if we are talking about ways to find time to read I have to admit I sneak it in. If you have little ones at home, it is sometimes very hard to get any privacy at all. They don’t understand that when you have a book open it means “shhh” I’m reading. In fact, I’m pretty sure that they think an open book is a queue to start telling the longest, most elaborate story about the last television show they watched.
Sometimes when I’m playing dolls with the girls, I’ll take a potty break, which turns in a long reading break. Just take your book to the bathroom and after going potty or pretending, whichever you choose, close the lid and enjoy a few minutes of reading all alone. No one has to know what is happening behind the closed door. Caution: mine have insisted I get no privacy because we’re all girls and have barged in before.
Many times at bedtime we lay with the girls for a little while after bedtimes stories as they fall asleep. I’ve been known to pull a cover up to my chin and have my Kindle book on my phone, so I can read. If the blanket is thick enough, your child will not see the electronic glow.
Read with your kids
If your children’s bedtime routine includes reading to them, why not incorporate that into a way you get more time to read what you like too. Sadly, this isn’t currently working so well with Amelia, who insists on reading every single Barbie book the library has 10x over. But Cassidy is at the age where she reads and enjoys some of my most favorite books. Awhile ago we introduced her to the magical world of Harry Potter. I just introduced her to Bridge to Terabithia, one of my all-time favorite books. Next up I want to introduce her to the Giver. I get to finally reread all the books I love, and she’s introducing me to new ones such as Wonder and Auggie and Me.
Now I get to enjoy even more books, albeit a lower reading level, but books I enjoy just as much as the books I read to myself. Maybe someday she’ll have some happy memories from our time reading together. I know I will.
So now you know my big secrets for how I read A LOT every year. I hope some of these tips are new to you and can help you to find more time to read all those books on your “To Be Read” list. If your list is anything like mine, it grows faster than I can read.
What other tips do you have for finding time to read?
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