Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Five Ways To Find The Time To Read

 When I meet someone new and they learn that I’m an author, their first response is often, “cool!” followed by a lamentation on their lack of reading time. They tell me how much they love books and that reading relaxes them, or they’ll share a fond memory of a favorite book. Occasionally, they’ll say they’ve made a New Year’s resolution to read more.
They’ll ask how much I read, and how I find the time to do it.

In answer to those questions: I read around fifty to sixty books a year. This year the number will be higher. It’s Halloween, and a check of my reading log shows I've completed 76 novels and four novellas. I started book number 77, Gregg Hurwitz's Hellbent, last night. There were also three books that I didn’t—and likely won’t—finish.

So how do I find the time, given my workload and family obligations? Simple: I make it. The investment is well worth it. Not only does reading make me a better writer, it lets my imagination fly and offers a respite when I’ve had a stressful day. 

If you want to make more time for reading, here are five easy tips:

Carry A Book At All Times. It doesn’t have to be bulky. If you have a phone with you, you have books with you. There are several apps available for reading, either via your phone’s app store, such as Apple Books, or by checking out Amazon’s Kindle App page, the Kobo App page, or Barnes & Noble’s Books App page. Have a few minutes of downtime? Instead of playing Minecraft or solitaire while waiting to meet a friend or to catch your bus, open your book and read. Prefer not to read on a phone? A Kindle, iPad, Kobo, or other device works, too. Then there are good old paperbacks. (Those still work!)

Consider Audio. I admit, I wasn’t sure I’d like audiobooks. On the recommendation of a friend, I did a free trial at Audible and was hooked. Now I listen in the car, while walking the dog, and while doing yardwork. If I’m at a particularly good spot in a story, I’ll forgo music while I run to listen. It’s amazing how a great narrator can bring a book to life. Audiobooks are less expensive and more accessible than in the days of tapes and CDs. You can listen on your phone and through many car speakers, either through programs like Apple CarPlay or via Bluetooth or by using an Aux cable. Now lulls in my day can be filled by a good book, even when my hands aren’t free to hold one.

Don’t Like It? Don’t Read It. No matter how many people rave about a book, if you aren’t enjoying it, it’s fine to quit reading. It took me years to allow myself to dump a book without finishing it. Silly, maybe, but there are thousands of wonderful books in the world. Why waste your precious reading time on one that doesn’t fire your imagination or entertain you in some way? Why slog through a horrible-to-you story when you can race through two or three great ones in the same time frame? Apologies to the late Aldous Huxley, but for me, reading Brave New World felt like trudging through ankle-deep mud in a cold headwind. I quit about a third of the way through, then read a fantastic romance novel and a thriller in the same amount of time it had taken me to slog through that third of a book. Lesson learned.

Keep a Log. I started keeping a log in 1999. It’s fascinating to look back on what I’ve read and enjoyed. Seeing the breadth of titles keeps me from getting in a reading rut. It also reminds me of authors I’ve enjoyed in the past so I can search for what they’ve written recently. There are several websites and phone apps that can manage a reading log for you, or you can go the old school route, as I do, with pen and paper. It’s a legit reason to buy a Moleskine or that cool notebook you’ve been eyeing on Etsy.

Share. Book clubs in my neighborhood tend to be more about the wine than the books, but some balance social time with meaty discussion. If you’re interested, ask your friends and neighbors if they belong to a book club, and ask them how it runs to see if it might be a good fit. If you can’t find one, why not start one? If book clubs aren’t your style, consider joining a site like BookBub or Goodreads, where you can discover new books and authors, read or write reviews, and discuss your favorites on message boards. Many authors have profile pages where they answer reader questions and make book recommendations.

The more you read, the more you’ll want to read. You’ll discover your own ways to fit reading into pockets of otherwise wasted time in your day.

Have great ideas of your own? Share them in the comments. In the meantime, go forth, find a great book, and enjoy.

No comments: