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.

    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

    WWW Wednesday

    • What are you currently reading?
    These four books have current bookmarks in them:
    Howards End is On the Landing: A year of Reading From Home by Susan Hill. Some of my favorite books are books about books (or reading, writing, and loving them).
    Enough: Finding More By Living With Less by Will Davis, Jr. I find myself wanting to argue with the author at times, which is not an altogether bad thing. It's definitely making me think.
    The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers by Meg Meeker. Who doesn't want to be a happy mother?
    Passing Bells by Phillip Rock. This series of novels (of which Passing Bells is the first) have just been re-released. I'm reading a much older copy from the library, but I am definitely into it. It predates Downton Abbey but it does remind me of the first and second seasons a bit. (Which I mean as a good thing)

    • What did you recently finish reading?
    The last book I finished was:
    The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. Draws you in. Full of mystery, abuse, neglect, gothic atmospherics, madness, twists and a distinct literary style. I figured out one of the "twists" a little too early, and this book would certainly not be everyone's cup of tea but I couldn't put it down.

    • What do you think you’ll read next?
    These are two from my stack that might win the "read me next lottery":
    The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson
    Or
    Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

    And I really need to re-order my Martyn Lloyd-Jones book because someone else snatched it away from (via a library hold) and I wasn't finished yet. I hate returning unfinished books but I also hate library fines. Such are the sorrows of being addicted to books, I suppose.

    This post is linked to WWW Wednesday at Should Be Reading
    This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. Action taken with these links could result in compensation for me.

    Monday, January 28, 2013

    Random Monday

    *Today is Pride and Prejudice's 200th birthday. We shall be watching part 1 of the fabulous BBC adaptation this evening. (Part 2 to be shown tomorrow) My girls are quite excited about this. (Only my oldest has actually read the book, but we're making an exception to our "You must read the book before you watch the movie" rule on this occasion.)

    How will you observe the day?

    With a movie night you have three main choices:


    Or

    (Choose this one!)

    Or you could re-read it:


    And maybe you need to introduce your baby to it:


    Or you could watch one of the many adaptations, read one of the many sequels, or, you know, all of the above. (all above images are Amazon Affiliate links)

    * Sweet Pea went to the dentist today. Sweet Pea has no cavities, although her teeth are slightly crowded. (Tell us something we didn't know.) Sweet Pea informed me that the best part was "Mr. Squiggles". I had no idea what she was talking about until she said (with a "Just exactly how dumb is Mom?!" look), "You know, he squirts water in your mouth."

    Ah.

    Second favorite part: getting a new toothbrush and her very own toothpaste tube. Doesn't take much to make Sweet Pea happy, I guess.

    *Tigger woke up extra energetic this morning - and trust me, there's a reason why I first nicknamed her Tigger for this blog. One positive consequence of this energy: she finished last week's cursive assignment (that she just couldn't do because, oh my, it was so hard and am I trying to torture her to death with cursive?) AND this week's page in about fifteen minutes flat, without me asking her or telling her she had to. And it looks good, too.

    If only she could always channel that energy in such constructive ways.

    So, what's up on your Monday?
    This post is linked to Random Monday hosted by Deb at Not Inadequate.

    Saturday, January 26, 2013

    Weekend Links - January 26, 2013

    My first, definitely most important news today: my sister had her baby boy (all 8lb 11 oz of him!) yesterday. I am thrilled - absolutely over the moon - to be an aunt again. I am less thrilled that they live 2,000 miles away. I so need to be out there and I can't right now and sometimes reality stinks.

    Anyway, enough with the grumbling, on to the links!

    Homekeeping / Frugality:
    Marriage / Parenting:
    Homeschooling / Education:
    Spiritual Life / For Thinking:
    Blogging / Social Media:
    For Fun / Uncategorized:
    • Growing Out a Pixie Cut by Rachel at Maybe Matilda. I've never had my hair that short but growing out a short haircut can be ridiculously awkward so I saved this post just in case.
    • Worst 2012 Trends (fashion related) by Jae. I don't "get" bubble necklaces, I loathe hi-low skirts and socks and heels on an adult make me want to give up. So I laughed out loud at this post, is what I'm saying.
    • 10 Literary Board Games for Book Nerds. I am a Major Book Nerd AND I live with a game designer and yet we do not have any of these games. How is that possible?
    • Please Don't Buy My Book! (one author's plea). Thought this one was interesting. I've sometimes felt guilty for my dependence on the local library to read newer books, but this post removed some of that guilt.
    • Until this graphic, I had no idea there were so many kinds of High Heels.
    And now, you will never believe this, my links folder is completely empty. I never thought I'd see the day but week after week of really long links posts will do that, I guess.

    Pins of the Week:
    Made me LOL:

    Not sure my building skills will ever reach to this, but maybe someone I love who's better at woodworking would help me:

    Yum:

    What caught your eye this week?
    This post is linked to Saturday Linky Love at Vanderbilt Wife. Come share your links and see what other folks are sharing. (And if you hear of a great ticket deal for Cincinnati to Vegas, let me know!)

    Friday, January 25, 2013

    Five Question Friday

    1. Do you embrace or dread snow/cold weather days?
     I love cold, snowy days.  I do not love
    • driving in snow or ice or anyone I love having to drive in snow or ice
    • ice storms that take out power lines
    A snowy day which we spend inside our cozy house, watching the snow fall, reading & drinking hot cocoa? My idea of a good time. (Side note: today is just such a day. Except for Philip is out and I don't like that. I wish he were here with us.)

    2. Which game show or reality show could you totally win?
    Not sure but probably something with trivia. I have (perhaps sadly) a great memory for trivia. Anything that required physical activity I would not do well. If only there was a reality show about reading books - I would totally own that. {wink}

    3. What is your preferred climate?
    Despite my occasional grumbles about the weather, I have to admit that my favorite is some place with all four seasons. I don't love ice and I don't love super hot but I love to watch the seasons change.

    4. What do you buy every time you walk into the grocery store, no matter what?
    Milk. Usually eggs, bananas, and cheese, too.

    5. If you see a spider/bug in the house, are you brave enough to kill it, or do you call for your hubby?
    That depends. If he's home - I call him. If he's not - I handle it. This only applies to spiders and bugs. Mice, birds, snakes, and other creatures of a varmint nature are his to deal with. (He's got some great raccoon stories to tell.)

    So, how 'bout you?
    This post is linked to Five Question Friday hosted by My Little Life.

    Thursday, January 24, 2013

    Because Somehow, It's Time Again


    Happy Birthday to my favorite. Favorite what? Pretty much anything.

    That's basically how to sum up how I feel about you: you're my favorite.

    (P.S. Can I just say how thankful I am that neither of us has "Gifts" as our primary love language or is that too tacky? Not to worry - we'll make up for it in other ways.)

    Previous posts on the occasion of Philip's birthday: 35, 34, 33, 32, 31.

    Wednesday, January 23, 2013

    WWW Wednesday

    What are you currently reading?
    These four books are in my current rotation (reading whichever one I feel like at the moment):
    Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure by Martyn Lloyd-Jones
    Enough: Finding More by Living With Less by Will Davis, Jr.
    10 Habits of Happy Mothers by Meg Meeker
    Cleaning House: A Mom's 12-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement by Kay Wills Wyma

    What did you recently finish reading?
    Books to Die For edited by John Connolly and Declan Burke. Which added a lot of likely books (and new to me authors) to my "to be read stack". And, incidentally, added more than a few books to my, "I don't ever want to read that or anything by that author" list as well.

    What do you think you’ll read next?
    A pretty steady diet of non-fiction lately means I really want to read another novel or mystery. I think I'll try this one next:
    Publish and Perish by Sally Wright

    What are you reading right now?
    This post is linked to WWW Wednesday. Come see what other folks are reading or hope to read next.
    This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. Action taken with these links could result in compensation for me.

    Tuesday, January 22, 2013

    A Room of His Own...Or Not.

    I don't think I've made any secret about the fact that we're trying to sell our house. We've been trying for almost a year.

    We've loved this house - it's been good to us. It's sturdy, it's old, it has character and high ceilings and big windows and more storage than you'd expect in a house that's over 150 years old (although that storage is not necessarily in the form of useful closets).

    We've brought all our babies home here. Some of the happiest days of my life, our life, have been here.

    But it's two bedrooms and one bath.

    Now, I'm trying not to whine about that. I realize that a good, reliable roof over our heads and working indoor plumbing actually make us rich compared to how most people lived through history and even now.

    We've learned lots of things about getting rid of possessions that aren't loved or useful. We've learned how to maximize space and organize things.

    But it's still two bedrooms and one bath.

    So, we want to sell. We want a bit more space. OK, I'd like a lot more space but I'll settle for "a bit" as long as "a bit" means at least one more bedroom and one more half bath.

    So, in the midst of our discussions about moving and looking for a new-to-us house, I told Philip the other day that one more reason I'd like to move now is so I can decorate a room for our new baby boy. After all, I've been pinning things like this:
    And this:
    Alongside my usual pins of how multiple children can share the same space.Like this:
    But I don't think Philip has imagined the same things.

    "His own room?" I could tell from my husband's incredulous tone that giving our baby boy his own room was not one of Philip's priorities for this move.

    "Maybe if he grows up and gets a job he can have his own room," he said.

    "He's not even born yet," I protested. "You can't insist he get a job while he's still in utero."

    "I knew you were going to coddle him," my husband informed me.

    Yes, well, I suppose you could call it that.

    By the end of our conversation (and yes, the teasing went on for longer than I've shared here and became even more ridiculous), we were both laughing so hard we could hardly speak.

    But I still want to decorate a room for him.