Everyday Life, Reading

There Is No Time To Find: How To Use What You Already Have

I’m an adult, I have two children under five years old, and I read a lot. If you’re an adult and you read a lot, you probably know this scenario:

I’m talking about something I just read (a novel, a parenting book, an article on spider bite treatments), when someone says, “How do you find the time to read?” Or what’s an even more perplexing question: “Where do you find time to read?” People don’t really think I’m pulling off couch cushions, looking for time like lost change? Wandering down the aisle at the supermarket, asking, “Where do you keep the sands of time?”

I usually respond with a shrug and a line like “I don’t watch any TV” (true) or “I spend no time on home decorating” (semi-true) or “I neglect my children” (almost entirely false).

But what I really want to say is “not reading is not an option for me.” I know this to be true because I have felt guilty enough about the time I spend reading to try to give fiction up. I have tried this three times in my adult life and the same things always follow: insomnia, inability to relax, sluggish thought process, irritability, a tendency to over analyze things, and a general loss of will to live. Yes, I’m exaggerating. But I have found it impossible for my brain to thrive without books.

It’s like what Bianca says in The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown when a guy asks her how she finds time to read a few hundred books a year. “[Bianca] narrowed her eyes and considered the array of potential answers in front of her. Because I don’t spend hours flipping through cable complaining there’s nothing on? Because my entire Sunday is not eaten up with pre-game, in-game, and post-game talking heads?… Because when I am waiting in line, at the gym, on the train, eating lunch, I am not complaining about the wait/staring into space/admiring myself in available reflective surfaces? I am reading!” Later, when describing why she broke up with him, she says, “He was not a reader. And that is the sort of nonsense up with which we will not put.”

That ‘s really the answer I want to give. The time is already there. You don’t need to find it, you need to use it. Use it to read, if reading is what you want to do more of! When I became a mom, I didn’t give up reading; I gave up sleep and kept the books.

But I think people who ask me when I fit reading into my schedule would like a different sort of answer. To that end, here are a few ideas:

  1. Read alongside your children. If you have small children like me, you’re at a perfect time in their lives to instill in them a love of reading. Read to them. Read your own book while they read/look at picture books. Institute a quiet time that encourages reading. This time in our home has become an infusion of peace and rest in our busy bee days. While my 2-year-old naps in the afternoon, my 4-year-old usually sits on her bed and looks through a stack of library books or a thick book of fairy tales, and I lie down on my book and read for a few minutes.
  2. Read on your lunch break. When I worked an office job, I would regularly read while I ate lunch. Several of my co-workers did the same. My husband often does this on lunch breaks. It’s a great way to stay sharp and take a break at the same time.
  3. Read on the treadmill. Or exercise bike or stair climber. If you’re doing light cardio work outs anyway, you already have a perfect opportunity to read. Seriously, it’s not as hard as it sounds. This is how I read for pleasure and stayed (mostly) fit and graduated from college at the same time. I wish I had a treadmill now so I could read more…
  4. Go to bed early. With a book of course. I pretty much can’t fall asleep without reading a novel. I save my nonfiction for early mornings, which leads to…
  5. Get up early. Going to bed early enables me to get up early and read whatever nonfiction I’m focusing on at the time. I’m more energized for the day if my thoughts start going before the dishes and laundry start/continue to pile up.
  6. Read out loud with your spouse. Some of you scratched this one off the list before you finished reading the sentence. But for those of you who find this idea at least slightly appealing, I’d encourage you to give it a try. Our premarital counselor actually suggested this to us. See, it’s legit. Maybe pick something light and adventurous. My husband and I had a lot of fun with the Harry Potter books. We read 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea on our honeymoon. (But beware of something that requires a heavy accent, like Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, that type of thing). Turning your imaginations into images from the same words is an even better experience than watching the same movie. And I’m not trying to sound all existential or anything. Just try it and you’ll see what I mean.
  7. Always keep a book with you. Oil changes, traffic, dentist appointments, carpool lines, waiting for people late to appointments and meetings, waiting for your spouse to come out of the public restroom…these things happen and you just need to have a book along with you. “Waste not the time that could be spent reading!” is the motto of book lovers everywhere.
  8.  Listen to an audiobook. This one is the obvious suggestion that you probably don’t need me to make. I’m sure you can already think of a time when you’re busy with your hands and not your brain–driving, folding clothes, washing dishes, entering data, pounding the pavement, what have you. Give your brain something to do and feel that sense of accomplishment that multitasking and actually finishing a book can bring.

I currently use or have used in the past all these ways to turn regular time into reading time. All of us are busy in one way or another. But I truly believe reading a good book is not a waste of time, but a way to enrich your life. If you’re reading this, you probably already agree. =)

If you need some ideas on what to read, check out the reviews category on the left of the screen! 

Reading, Reviews

Letters That Make Books

Lots of people I talk to about books say they don’t enjoy books made up of letters. Not letters as in the alphabet, but epistles. I try to understand where they’re coming from, but I think they must have just had a bad experience. Think of all the great books made up of letters! For example: The Screwtape Letters. I do understand that books solely or largely made up of letters can be harder to follow. You have to read between the letters, imagine what is happening and realize that each time you read someone’s accounting of an event, it’s already happened and so much can change between one letter to the next. In our world of email and instant messages, maybe it’s become difficult to imagine a dependence on snail mail.

Nonfiction, Reading

Happiness For Dummies (or Geniuses): A Review of Two Books on Being More Joyful

Disclaimer: I’m pretty slow when it comes to reading nonfiction. I have a pile of books on my nightstand at any given time, and the one that stays the longest in that pile is always the nonfiction book. On a side note, it would be more accurate to call my nightstand and the floor space beside it “The Stacks”. Please tell me I’m not alone in this. Well, I know I’m not, because you should see my dad’s bedside table. I don’t even know why we have tables next to our beds. Bookshelves would be so much tidier. Anyway, I am always in the middle of a nonfiction book. This is not  because I’m particularly scholarly, but because I read nonfiction at a snail’s pace (can snails read?). There’s no “scope for the imagination” in it. I like to think it’s because I’m really mulling over all the facts and advice that I’m taking in when I read nonfiction, but usually it’s just because I get bored with it quickly. It’s kind of painful to admit that. But there it is. However, there are some non-fiction books that I find enthralling. I’ll write about two of them today.

In my last post, If I Were A Facebook God, I wrote about how discouraging some Facebook statuses are on Monday morning. I, maybe rather frustratingly, spoke of finding some “joy sugar” to sweeten the hard days. I realize I may have left some of you wondering how in the world one finds that stuff. Well, there’s no way for me to explain all that on a book blog. Already, some of you are probably wondering, “When is she going to talk about actual books?” Enter, some self help books.

I don’t pick up many “how to” books. And any book that has “dummies” in the title is a book I don’t really want to read. Publishers would do better to appeal to my pride with titles like “Knitting for The Moderately Bright.” However, I’ve read a couple of books that have changed my perspective or helped me realize what perspective I need to take on being joyful in life. One of these is based on the Christian perception of joy (that happiness is based on circumstances but abiding in God and His love brings joy in any circumstance) and one is a non-religious book that equates joy and happiness as pretty much the same thing.

Everyday Life

If I Could Be A Facebook God: Thoughts on Monday

It’s Monday again. I don’t have a problem with Monday. Monday is a good day, a day when I get the house back in order after the weekend, ease the kids back into a routine, wash loads and loads of laundry, and stay home as much as possible. I like Mondays. Still, I try to avoid Facebook on Monday mornings. It makes me depressed to see all the statuses that read something along the lines of “Sigh…Monday…back to work…hate my life…” etc. Depressed and kind of a little angry. I know life throws lemons at you sometimes and there is no sugar for the lemonade in sight…but maybe there’s a Publix or something a few miles down the road? Maybe we can put some effort into finding some sugar to sweeten the sour days?

Reading, Reviews

Books You Don’t Proudly Display

Recently, I wrote about my struggle to get rid of some books I’d been holding onto for a long time. I had been keeping a lot of them, not because I liked them, but because they were the kind of books I could proudly display on my living room bookshelves. You know, stuff like “Selected Writings by 20th Century Masters.” They were books that declared “I was an English Literature major and I retained all of that stuff and liked it.” Dear old Edgar Allen Poe. Oh wait. I can’t handle Edgar Allan Poe.

I successfully broke through that barrier in my thinking and got rid of the books I actually didn’t ever want to read again. I made way on my shelves for books that I really do like. But then I started thinking…”Would I actually display that book on my shelf?” Well, no, because I probably don’t own it. And I’m not talking smutty books, I truly don’t like those books. I’m talking about books that aren’t considered very intellectual. Books like The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

There, I admitted it.

You guys. I really do like those books. And I can’t even blame “reading them in high school” as the reason because I read them after graduating from college, as a full-fledged English major. Maybe my brain needed a break? (actually, I was working a desk job and went to the library on my lunch break in search of anything to listen to to keep my mind from slushing into nothingness, but the selection was limited. “Maybe not that limited!” you say. But I’m not listening to you.).

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...