Thursday, January 31, 2013

Books, Reading and So Little Time

April asked:
When do you find time to read? Have you blogged about that before?
Well, I can't remember if I've blogged about it before. Probably. I made a {half-hearted} attempt to dig through my archives and see. If only I'd known the importance of accurate post labeling back then. (Whenever back then might be)

Here's a post I recently read on the subject: Practical Tips for How to Make More Time for Reading. (By another Karen!)

I'm not trying to copy her work but some of the answers in this blog will, of necessity, be repetitive.

How do I read so much?
  1. I just do. Reading is what I do. There is not one single night where I lay my head on my pillow without having read at least a few pages of a book that's just for me (as opposed to for my children or their schoolwork). None. It doesn't happen. I read every day, the same way I eat a meal every day and brush my teeth every day and whatever else I do every day.
  2. I keep a variety of books on hand: spiritual (theology or heavier reading), mysteries, novels, and non-fiction on several different topics. I usually have at least three books going at once. Why does this help me read more? Because I don't always feel like reading the same thing. Some mysteries are easy to knock out in a sitting or two, other books take far longer. Just because I'm not in the mood for another chapter of my latest WW2 research doesn't mean I can't read: I just pick up something else.
  3. I don't watch TV. It's true. I can't remember the last time I turned on our TV (antenna only) to watch a show. I never turn on the TV "just to see what's on". Philip and I usually watch a show online in the evenings, lest you think I'm "Books Only". I'm not. We typically watch about 45 minutes to an hour and a half most evenings. It's just on our computer or via DVD instead of on TV. Which means fewer commercials (or none) and being able to stop if we get sleepy.
  4. Reading is my primary hobby. Sure, I do a little sewing and a little cooking and things of that nature. And I love to scrapbook when I get a chance to. But I'm not big into other types of handicrafts. Reading and Writing are my main hobbies. Not to mention (although here I am mentioning it) I think reading is as important as other chores and that I'd usually far rather be at home reading than outside running errands or shopping or something.
  5. We have "Quiet Time" every day. Quiet Time is inviolate - it comes right after lunch. The littles go for a nap, the big girls sit in the living room and read. And I sit in my room and read. This is the first time of the day I can really sit down with a book. Sometimes I fall asleep (hey, I'm 26 weeks pregnant. It happens.) But most of the time I get a good solid hour of reading in. And yes, I've been known to start the laundry or dishwasher before sitting down for Quiet Time but Quiet Time is NOT Chore Time. Chore Time is before or after and Quiet Time is not for catching up on chores (except maybe blogging). Side benefit of this: my children do not think chores are something Mom catches up on while they rest. Chores are for everyone. I am no one's Laundry / Cleaning / Cooking Fairy. Those are group efforts (even if I do most of the work). And if Mama is picking up toys, you'd better believe that the small folk of this house are also picking up toys.
That's how I tackle my reading stack. Here are a few more ideas:
  1. Embrace audio books. My husband likes these as he's driving around town. We've trained our girls to listen to these, sometimes during Quiet Time and sometimes just while they're playing with toys.
  2. Set a personal goal for reading. 30 minutes a day seems like a good start. And yes, there is time. It will be time you don't do something else, true, but reading is rewarding and I promise the laundry will still be there 30 minutes later.
  3. Keep a book handy. A slim paperback can easily fit in a purse or diaper bag. When you're waiting in the pediatrician's waiting room, take out your book instead of the Dr's copy of Golf Digest magazine from 2007. 
  4. Read to each other. Read aloud to your kids. Take turns reading aloud (you read this page, I'll read the next). And don't feel ashamed about reading children's literature even for your own enjoyment. Some of the best books in the world were written for children. If you've never read the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder or the Anne books by L.M. Montgomery or Winnie-the-Pooh or Narnia, it's not too late to start, even if you don't have a child old enough to enjoy them. You are in for a treat.
  5. Don't feel married to a book you're not enjoying. This is not high school, this is life: there is no required reading list (well, OK, if you're a Christian you have to read the Bible. But if you're truly a Christian you'll also want to read the Bible. And you'll make that happen, even if you don't use someone else's schedule.). Just because I love Jane Austen doesn't mean you have to (although, seriously, what's not to love?!). Even if everyone is talking about a recent release, it doesn't mean you have to finish it if you hate it. And there are plenty of classics and brilliant authors to chose from without feeling like a failure because you've never read Don Quixote. (Hint: I've never read Don Quixote.) 
  6. Depending on how fast you read, you can sprinkle reading in with other chores. I do this on days where I'm not going anywhere: read a chapter, start the laundry, read a chapter, clean up the kitchen, read a chapter, start supper. 
  7. Can't sleep? Don't toss and turn: get up and grab a book. The middle of the night is a great reading time. And since you can't sleep anyway, it's not wasted. You can't run the vacuum in the middle of the night. And you don't need a flickering TV screen. If you fall asleep on the couch with your favorite blanket and a good book, who cares? 
  8. Take a book along (yes, this is practically a repeat of #3). I'm the mom at swim lessons who's reading a book. They only show off the cool stuff at the end anyway.
  9. Join a book club or study group if you need the accountability. This is not my favorite thing. It doesn't work for me, but it might for you.
  10. Just read. Read again tomorrow. Read more the next day. The more you read, the more you'll know, the more you know...wait a minute, I'm quoting one of the greats. (That'd be Dr. Seuss: Oh, the Places You'll Go!) Think you're not a fast reader? Reading is a muscle - it gets stronger with use. I've seen this in action with my own husband. He used to disparage his reading skill (well, he was comparing himself to me, which is never wise). He kept on reading. He made his own stack by the bed. He finishes a lot more books now than he used to, both audio and traditional. Don't compare yourself to me or anyone else. Just read.

    Don't surrender.

    3 comments:

    Elisabeth said...

    I know this post is about reading but I liked the part about everyone pitching in at chore time. Which is easy for you since your kids don't go off to school but Im thinking I need to do more delegating! Also, a friend recently gave me the Anne of Green Gables series for Hannah to read (that will never happen) but I have thought about reading them myself. Or some of the other books I have for her. Maybe after I get the chores delegated. ;)

    Amy said...

    Being a big reader myself, I thoroughly enjoyed this post and agreed with everything you said. And I also like that you've made reading such a priority that you've set aside time in the afternoon to do it and that your children see you enjoying reading.

    Amy said...

    I have reading moods, too. But I didn't discover the beauty of having more than one book going at a time until the last few years. Maybe I learned it from you! Ha! :)

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