Is your stack of books to read beginning to resemble the leaning tower of Pisa? Mine absolutely does. Virtually and literally, I might add. Just take a look at my Goodreads profile if you don’t believe me. 500 books to read? Don’t mind if I do! Do I continue to buy books at almost every second-hand shop I walk into? Absolutely, I do! Do I obsessively browse my online library catalog when I’m at home so that I’ll be better prepared for my library trip each week? Yes. And yes, I may need an intervention, but that is beside the point today, because I am going to share with you my ten best tips to actually READ all those books you dream about reading someday.
Here’s the thing–even though I’m “home” all day as a stay-at-home mom, I keep pretty busy chasing after my 3 year old, 1 year old, keeping house, and trying to keep up with my writing. Finding time to read is not easy, but it can be done. Here’s how.
1. Put a book in the bathroom. I know it doesn’t always work out to read in there–Lord knows if I’m home with just the kids, they can’t handle the thirty seconds it takes me to go alone, let alone trying to read a page or two in addition–but sometimes, maybe just once or twice a day, it will work out. If there’s a book in there, you won’t have to go searching for reading material when nature calls, and you won’t get stuck twiddling your thumbs or flipping through facebook, which leads me to number
2. Put your phone down. Stop and think about all the times during the day when you’re not particularly doing anything else, so you pick your phone up and check email, scroll through Facebook, pin something on Pinterest… It’s never long, right? Just a few minutes? Well, it’s a few minutes–probably a lot more than that, if you’re anything like me–that you could be reading.
3. Keep books that you want to read in every room of your house. I’ve found that if I feel like I have to go looking for reading material when I have a few quiet moments to myself, I’m much more likely to just keep my bum on the couch and look at Facebook. I’m never more than a couple of arms lengths away from a book. Yes, your end tables will be full, and probably every flat surface in your house will have a nondecorative, but functional, book on it. It’s sweet, sweet, literate disorder. Embrace it.
4. If you have kids at home like I do, read to them. Not just children’s books, although those are great and we do read a lot of children’s books here. Pick up whatever book you’re reading, and read it to your kids. Try to make your tone as interesting as possible, no matter how advanced the subject matter is, and see how long they’ll tolerate it. I usually get through 2-3 pages before they lose interest. That doesn’t sound like much, but it’s 2-3 pages I wouldn’t have read otherwise. Plus, it’s great for their vocabularies, even if they don’t know it yet!
5. Sit on the floor with your kids and let them use you as a jungle gym while you read. This one is pretty straight forward. I recommend reading something easy to absorb. This is the perfect time for fluff fiction, as you probably won’t be able to concentrate for more than a sentence or two if it isn’t.
6. Economize your time. Try to cut down on the time you spend looking for things to read. You know the old saying, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”? That saying is not for the parents of small children. Judge, judge, judge those covers with the judgiest eyes you can muster. Look at the covers as you walk by. If one jumps out at you, grab it. Don’t over think it. This isn’t fail proof, obviously, but about 98% of the time, I can tell whether I’ll like a book or not based solely on it’s cover. I’m sure there are books out there that I would love that I’m missing because their covers aren’t instantly appealing to me, but that’s where I am in life right now. And you know what? I’m okay with it! 🙂
7. This is probably the most controversial tip of all, but it’s also the best if you’re already having trouble fitting reading into your life. Don’t feel like you have to finish every book. This is not high school. You are not being graded on books you don’t read. If it’s not holding your attention and especially if you find yourself actually avoiding it, just do yourself a favor and move on. If it’s moving too slowly to hold your interest, but you’re still curious about the ending, read the last chapter. This is the hardest thing for me, folks. ‘Read the whole book’ is engraved in my conscience, but sometimes it is just not worth it. I’m still learning to trust my gut and know when to step away from a book. The brief pain is so worth it though. I’d rather feel a twinge at quitting a book halfway through, than get to the end and wonder why I just wasted three hours of my life on the thing.
8. Turn off the TV. Yes, even during the day when you’re busy with other things anyways. Just challenge yourself to keep it off for one whole day, and at the end of the day evaluate. I was shocked to realize how much time I actually spent watching TV when I thought I just had it on as background noise. You don’t have to swear off it entirely, but going on a brief hiatus really makes you think about what you’re doing with it when you do turn it back on.
9. This one kind of goes hand in hand with the last one. Once you’ve decided that you’re happy with the amount of TV in your life, put a reading requirement on it. One page, one chapter, fifteen minutes, or a half hour… however you want to do it, just make yourself do it before you settle into the couch and binge-watch episodes of The Office or Grey’s Anatomy. (I may or may not be speaking from experience…)
10. Last, and probably least, just relax and enjoy it. You’ll discover or rediscover why you love reading. Once you’re engrossed in a book, you probably won’t even need the last nine tips–you’ll be finding your own ways to squeeze a quick reading sesh in!
So there you have it! My ten best tips for finding time to read. I hope I’ve given you some practical ideas that will help you get reading again! If you’re not sure what to read, just scroll on down through the list of books I’ve reviewed until something piques your interest 😉