Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunday Salon: I Don't Have Time to Read

People walk into my house, notice the bulging bookshelves, and feel compelled to apologize for their lack of reading (after they comment on how many books I have and how I need a Kindle or a Nook but that's a whole different post entirely). It's not really their lack of reading that they are announcing but instead, their lack of time to read. I realize they don't mean it this way but it sometimes comes off as sounding as if I have the luxury of time that they, busy people, don't have. "What do you do all day staying at home?" "Eat bonbons and read, of course." For anyone laboring under the misapprehension that I am not busy, please feel free to ask my mother how often she can actually get a hold of me on my home phone (yes, we still have a landline because I am a Luddite). Don't ask her how often she reaches me on my cell though because those results will be unfair given how often it is sitting inadvertantly at home while I am not. Suffice it to say that my days are busy and full and I too have to fit reading in around the rest of my life as a lady of leisure. So in the interests of helping all of those who would love to read but just don't have the time, let me share some of my tricks with you.

1. Never leave your house without a book (or two) unless you plan to stop at a bookstore in the course of your errands. You will be happy to have something to do when you sit at long red lights, soccer practice, dance class, tennis matches, a railroad crossing, the doctor's office, etc.

2. A book is never amiss if you are meeting someone for lunch or dinner or a meeting. When they are late, you don't have to re-read the menu twenty times or stare unseeingly at the faux decor. Besides, just think how much more pleasurable it will be to sit through some interminable PTA meeting if you have just read about pirates ravishing the heroine. (Although this scenario can lead to serious pique at having so much of your tiny sliver of reading time rudely eaten up by those people who have your child's best educational concerns at heart.)

3. You can cook one-handed, thereby leaving one hand free to hold a book. Cracking eggs can get a bit messy if you are too engrossed in your book but if you choose to read something with a food theme, you'll just feel that much more a part of the story if you too are cooking as you read it. And trust me, when a recipe calls for stirring constantly, you'll appreciate the distraction of a book.

4. With only the merest amount of practice, you can walk to the bus stop (or anywhere really) while reading. You will, of course, have to relinquish the book to hear all about which child burped really loud in class, which child earned them a silent lunch, and the (not so) funny story their teacher told them all once your child gets off the bus so make the most of this time before they re-enter your day. Plus, if you are reading something great, other moms at the bus stop will ask you about the book, giving you the chance to rapsodize about it without coming across as a raging bore who only talks about books and is incapable of other small talk.

5. Turn off the tv and read instead. I know, controversial. But reading about people struggling through life is far more entertaining than watching it and you don't have to censor your books when the kids are in the room. Plus, books have no canned laugh track so they either earn your chuckles or they don't. Save your viewing only for the best of the best. That way you'll appreciate your show(s) more and you will have carved out a fairly huge chunk of reading time if you were once a mindless tv watcher just because it was on.

There are any number of other times that people who really want to make the time to read can and do read. Someone saying that they don't have the time is simply not true. What are some of your best tricks for eking out reading time?

This week I have not done a ton of reading because even I have not figured out a way to read on the tennis court but with the bit I did, I ran a vintage dress shop for my ill grandmother, I faced the moral dilemma of war and the damage it does to a marriage, and I pushed against my fate and that of many similar women to become strong and change a small corner of my village.


  1. That's why I don't have a tv at home (although netflix streaming makes that a small sacrifice). Now I read even when watching tv at my sister's house. I love meeting readers for dinner, because sometimes we don't even put up the books when we meet.

    I read walking down the school halls to volunteer in my kids' classrooms. I figure the bad safety example I set is made up for by the strong literacy push.

  2. I have an audiobook loaded in the car so I can listen as I'm going to and fro everywhere...short trips, long trips...anywhere.

    I have my Kindle synced with my Blackberry. That means that anytime anywhere I can access the books on my Kindle and read a few pages.

    I do not watch's not a rule of mine; I'm just usually running around like a chicken with my head cut off taking care of everything. By the time my household is organized for the next day, any good shows are already off. That's when I'm finally able to relax and read a little more...till I fall asleep, that is ;)

    The time "excuse" is a pet peeve of mine as well...makes me roll my eyes ;)

  3. I'm with you on bringing a book with me absolutely everywhere that I go. You never know when you will have a few spare reading moments! And I would rather read than watch TV most days. :)

  4. What a great post, it proves once again that everyone has time to read if they really want to.
    I'm a bit of a klutz though, so I have had to abandon the reading while walking option :-)

  5. Needing reading glasses has cut down on my ability to read everywhere, as occasionally I stick a book in my bag but forget to stick the glasses, too!

  6. A great post! I actually watch a lot less TV now, instead prefering to read (unless there's something on that I really want to watch).

  7. Great post! I definitely watch a lot less tv now that I read a lot more. One of my biggest tips for increasing reading time: take public transit. If I ever started driving to work, that's almost 2 hours/day of reading time I would lose.


I have had to disable the anonymous comment option to cut down on the spam and I apologize to those of you for whom this makes commenting a chore. I hope you'll still opt to leave me your thoughts. I love to hear what you think, especially so I know I'm not just whistling into the wind here at my computer.

Popular Posts