Monday, February 10, 2014

8 Things You Can Do to Make Time For Reading

[caption id="attachment_316" align="alignnone" width="700"]8-Things-to-Make-Time-for-Reading "Untitled" by ginnerobot, used under CC, edited from original.[/caption]

In our over-scheduled and fast-paced world, it can seem impossible to find time to sit and enjoy a good book.  But reading doesn't have to be another overwhelming task you have to squeeze into your day - in fact, it shouldn't be.  Here are some pointers to get you started if you desire to read more, but aren't sure how to make room for it in your life, and some thoughts on making it enjoyable, not just another to-do item.

1. This might be stating the obvious, but you don't have to buy books to read.  I feel like it's an important point to make, because we sometimes forget all the wonderful resources at our fingertips.  The number of books I read dropped significantly the first year after my oldest was born because I found myself diverting my "book money" to books, clothes, and toys for him.  I completely forgot that I didn't have to actually purchase a book in order to read it.  In case you've also forgotten, and find yourself lacking the funds to buy every book that strikes your fancy, try borrowing from a friend, download from one of the many online databases of free ebooks (like Project Gutenburg), sit and read at your local bookstore, or you could always...

2. Be a library nerd.  The modern library system is fabulous...most allow you to scour the catalog online, place books on hold, and receive an email alert when holds are ready for pick up.  At my local library, picking up hold books is incredibly fast and easy, even with very small children in tow.  We can run in, grab the books off the hold shelf near the main entrance, and use the self-checkout to get us back out the door in no time.  In addition, our library offers ebooks, which you can check-out and read on your phone/ipad/ereader and digitally return when you're done.  Highly efficient.

3. Not sure what to read?  Look at what others are reading to get ideas.  A post from the Art of Manliness recently touched on the idea, quoting David Leach, "Don't follow your mentors; follow your mentors' mentors."  I'm always looking for book recommendations to add to my "to-read" list, and I tend to follow blogs of book-lovers.  Some of my favorite book-lovin' bloggers are Haley from Carrots for Michaelmas, Edie from Life in Grace, and Anne from Modern Mrs. Darcy.

4. Limit your distractions: turn your phone on silent and turn off your computer and TV.  Sometimes the difference in whether or not I actually finish reading is the number of distractions in my life at that moment.  Responsibilities like kids and pets should not be considered distractions, but my phone, computer, TV, and iPad absolutely are.  In order to make time to read, I've found it helpful to take breaks from blog reading, checking email, and time spent on Facebook, Pinterest, and the like.  I also try to refrain from Googling every random question that comes into my mind while I'm reading, since that often leads me down a time-sucking rabbit hole.  It's hard to focus on the book in hand when our minds are being pulled in multiple directions.

5. Get the whole family involved.  If my husband mentions a book he wants to read, I search for it at our library and check it out for him.  Now that my oldest has learned some basic library behavior skills (like no running and shouting), trips to the library are more fun.  We can spend time together looking through the kids' section for books he wants to read, and find a few for sister as well.  We're still working on the concept of "these books are for keeps" and "don't tear that up!".  But by making sure there is a steady stream of books available for everyone, we've moved reading up higher on our list of favorite activities.

6. When it's a gorgeous day or evening, take your books outside.  If you have children as active as mine, you know the importance of letting them get their wiggles and jumps out of their system every day, multiple times a day.  And if you don't have kids, you still need to breathe fresh air and soak up some vitamin D.  Why not kill two birds with one stone?  Try a "book picnic" and head outside with a blanket to read your books in the sunshine.  Or, now that the days are getting longer again, take your book outside in the evening after work.  You can do this anywhere, but the most convenient place is likely your own backyard.  The kids might lose interest wander off to explore, which gives mom and dad the perfect opportunity to read in (relative) peace and quiet.  I highly recommend this.


7. Try to push yourself outside your norm.  Are you a fiction lover?  Try a non-fiction instead (maybe a biography of your favorite author to start).  Are you mostly drawn to non-fiction?  Give fiction a chance every now and then.

8. Last, but not least, it's okay...It's okay to stop reading if you don't like a book.  You're not being graded or tested...move on to better reads!  It's okay to read slowly and take forever to finish a book.  It's not a race.  It's okay to read more than one book at once.  And it's also okay to devote yourself entirely to one book at a time.  Do what works for you.

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