Jul 14

In his last post, Michael asked if readers of this blog had any tips for finding more time to spend with books. So that started me thinking. And while this is partially in response to his request, it’s also something I will be printing out and hanging up somewhere. Maybe everywhere. Because I need to do these things as much as anyone.

young man reading, image by Sarah Cates
photo by Sarah Cates, Cates Imaging

10 Ways to Find More Time for Reading

  1. Unplug. Seriously. Step away from the computer. Turn off the television. It’s a no-brainer, but it might be the hardest thing to do all day. A newspaper story about author James Patterson reported that “he also reprimanded adults who say they don’t have time to read: ‘People read thousands of pages. No content. No stories. It’s called your BlackBerry’.”

  2. Embrace television, but in an old-fashioned way. Drop the Tivo remote. Use the commercial breaks to squeeze in some reading time. Short stories work great for this, or books that have short chapters. I recently read Seth Godin’s MEATBALL SUNDAE this way. The chapters are short, but thought-provoking, making them perfect for commercial breaks. If you’re still reading when the commercials are over, you can pick up the remote and pause the TV until you’ve finished the chapter.
  3. Read aloud to your children, an elderly neighbor or family member, or someone else who would enjoy it. Sometimes we don’t really count that as “reading time,” but really, it’s time spent in an even more fulfilling way. At a recent event, Barack Obama was quoted as saying, “”Over the course of four years I made time to read all of the Harry Potter books out loud to my daughters. If I can do that and run for president, then you can find time to read to your kids. That’s some of the most special time you have with your children.”
  4. Take long car rides, and let someone else drive. This works great for me, because my husband can’t read in the car without getting nauseous. So he drives (and gets to choose the music), and I read.
  5. If you don’t have a chauffeur, try audiobooks. Audios are great not only for the car and gym, but for doing chores around the house, knitting, or any other time you need use of your hands. I have been known to listen to audios on my iPod at the grocery store, and they have saved my sanity while waiting for my kids at swimming lessons — I can still watch what’s going on, but can listen to a book at the same time.
  6. Wake up 15 minutes earlier, and go to bed 15 minutes later. Voila, 1/2 hour of found reading time, which shouldn’t take too much of a toll on your sleep cycle.
  7. Join a book group, reading circle, or take a literature class. The added pressure of a deadline might allow you to carve out some reading time without feeling too guilty.
  8. Give up housework, yard work, chores, etc. for one non-work day. Consider it a vacation — a “staycation” if you will. Schedule it on your calendar if you must. If you have small children, trade off being “on duty” with your spouse for 2 hour increments. Your spouse will probably appreciate the freedom as well, and 2 hours is enough time to immerse yourself fully into the plot and characters of a juicy novel.
  9. If you are simply unable to ignore the chores that must be done, take yourself off to a coffee shop, library, or other comfortable place where you can camp out for awhile. You’ll be away from the demands of the things you “should” be doing. It’s very liberating to read a book without that pile of laundry staring at you accusingly.
  10. OK, I’m going to just say it. You probably do it anyway. Read in the bathroom. For at least a few minutes, people will leave you alone. Choose your reading material carefully. If you are trying to do this at work, be discreet, and avoid tomes like War and Peace.

If you have other tips, please post them in the comments. We can all use them, I’m sure!

  • These are great tips. My thought is an expansion of yours: while reading aloud to your kids, you can use a digital recorder to make an audio book for a local group that needs books on audio for the blind. You can either edit out the questions and comments made by your kids, or leave them in – some people might like that. You might even have your kids do some of the voices. Make it fun.

  • These are great tips. My thought is an expansion of yours: while reading aloud to your kids, you can use a digital recorder to make an audio book for a local group that needs books on audio for the blind. You can either edit out the questions and comments made by your kids, or leave them in – some people might like that. You might even have your kids do some of the voices. Make it fun.

  • Great post! Perhaps another would just be to make sure you bring a book with you! I put in quite a bit of reading time waiting for buses and on buses and trains, or when waiting for people.

  • Great post! Perhaps another would just be to make sure you bring a book with you! I put in quite a bit of reading time waiting for buses and on buses and trains, or when waiting for people.

  • These are great. We dropped our cable almost two years ago and have found ourselves more inclined to read and pursue art. However, I let chores get in my way. I think your suggestion of time off from the chores – at a coffee shop would do me a world of good.

    Btw, the thought of someone engrossed in War and Peace on the throne made me laugh.

    -Lynnea

  • These are great. We dropped our cable almost two years ago and have found ourselves more inclined to read and pursue art. However, I let chores get in my way. I think your suggestion of time off from the chores – at a coffee shop would do me a world of good.

    Btw, the thought of someone engrossed in War and Peace on the throne made me laugh.

    -Lynnea

  • I do No 9 a lot but I do need to do No 1!
    I might get some audio books for the summer as we are planning a road trip.

    Thanks for the tips.

  • I do No 9 a lot but I do need to do No 1!
    I might get some audio books for the summer as we are planning a road trip.

    Thanks for the tips.

  • Becky

    Take public transportation whenever possible! I live in the country, so I can’t do so on a daily basis, but I loooove airplanes and airports (especially when unencumbered by children).

  • Becky

    Take public transportation whenever possible! I live in the country, so I can’t do so on a daily basis, but I loooove airplanes and airports (especially when unencumbered by children).

  • great suggestions. 🙂
    i hope you enjoy the concept store. i thought it was pretty cool. 🙂

  • great suggestions. 🙂
    i hope you enjoy the concept store. i thought it was pretty cool. 🙂

  • These are great! I definitely try to follow rule #8, plus all that dust from cleaning usually stirs up my allergies 🙂

  • These are great! I definitely try to follow rule #8, plus all that dust from cleaning usually stirs up my allergies 🙂

  • ann

    Thanks for your comments, everyone. These are some fantastic ideas! Keep ’em coming if you got ’em!

    Thanks,
    Ann

  • ann

    Thanks for your comments, everyone. These are some fantastic ideas! Keep ’em coming if you got ’em!

    Thanks,
    Ann

  • Susan

    Working in a bookstore, I just tell myself that reading is actually working, and that alleviates any possible guilt! While this won’t work for non-bookstore people, you can always tell yourself that you need to be up-to-date on current books for cocktail parties, your book group, or whatever works for you. (I don’t actually read while at work; I ignore housework at home in order to read, however….)

    Great blog, Ann & Michael!

  • Susan

    Working in a bookstore, I just tell myself that reading is actually working, and that alleviates any possible guilt! While this won’t work for non-bookstore people, you can always tell yourself that you need to be up-to-date on current books for cocktail parties, your book group, or whatever works for you. (I don’t actually read while at work; I ignore housework at home in order to read, however….)

    Great blog, Ann & Michael!

  • Hi Ann! Thanks for visiting my blog and for your compliments. I just finished The Lace Reader this evening and can’t wait to review it. It was fantastic!

  • Hi Ann! Thanks for visiting my blog and for your compliments. I just finished The Lace Reader this evening and can’t wait to review it. It was fantastic!

  • I love this list! I’m already doing number 8 to some degree.

  • I love this list! I’m already doing number 8 to some degree.

  • These are great suggestions. Another thing I do is arrive 10-15 minutes early to pick up my kids at school or playdates, then use the time to read in the car.

    Ok if I link this post on my blog in a day or two??

  • These are great suggestions. Another thing I do is arrive 10-15 minutes early to pick up my kids at school or playdates, then use the time to read in the car.

    Ok if I link this post on my blog in a day or two??

  • ann

    Hi Lisa,
    That’s a GREAT suggestion!! Feel free to link to us to your heart’s desire 🙂
    Thanks so much for being a part of Books on the Nightstand!

  • ann

    Hi Lisa,
    That’s a GREAT suggestion!! Feel free to link to us to your heart’s desire 🙂
    Thanks so much for being a part of Books on the Nightstand!

  • Thanks for sharing your opinion about All We Ever Wanted Was Everything…maybe I’ll pick it up again sometime, knowing that there’s a big twist to keep me interested.

  • Thanks for sharing your opinion about All We Ever Wanted Was Everything…maybe I’ll pick it up again sometime, knowing that there’s a big twist to keep me interested.

  • I love your suggestions, although I would alter one of them quite a bit.

    Instead of embracing television (and reading during commercial breaks), how about just getting rid of the damn thing?

    That’s what we did.

    I’ve never been a TV watcher, but let TV “sneak” into my house when my father-in-law put rabbit ears on our set.

    My kids then always wanted to watch TV. So instead of fighting that battle, we got rid of the TV, the VCR, and the DVD player.

    My wife and I can still watch DVDs on my laptop.

    Getting rid of the TV ranks as one our best decisions in 8 years of married life.

  • I love your suggestions, although I would alter one of them quite a bit.

    Instead of embracing television (and reading during commercial breaks), how about just getting rid of the damn thing?

    That’s what we did.

    I’ve never been a TV watcher, but let TV “sneak” into my house when my father-in-law put rabbit ears on our set.

    My kids then always wanted to watch TV. So instead of fighting that battle, we got rid of the TV, the VCR, and the DVD player.

    My wife and I can still watch DVDs on my laptop.

    Getting rid of the TV ranks as one our best decisions in 8 years of married life.

  • ann

    Ryan, I agree about getting rid of the television. It would be impossible in my house (sports rule over all things), but we do control it a great deal. No TV on school days, very limited on weekends.

    I was very happy during the writer’s strike when there was nothing at all to watch, but I do admit that I have a fondness for food-oriented reality shows like Top Chef.

    But good for you guys for actually doing it!

  • ann

    Ryan, I agree about getting rid of the television. It would be impossible in my house (sports rule over all things), but we do control it a great deal. No TV on school days, very limited on weekends.

    I was very happy during the writer’s strike when there was nothing at all to watch, but I do admit that I have a fondness for food-oriented reality shows like Top Chef.

    But good for you guys for actually doing it!

  • hee! If I didn’t let my kids watch some TV, there would be no freedom for me to do ANYTHING, let alone read! 😉

  • hee! If I didn’t let my kids watch some TV, there would be no freedom for me to do ANYTHING, let alone read! 😉

  • Linda

    This is a very good list, and I’m proud to say I already use about 6 of them.

  • Linda

    This is a very good list, and I’m proud to say I already use about 6 of them.

  • I am printing this out too! I need something there just to force me to do the things I already know I should. Thanks!

  • I am printing this out too! I need something there just to force me to do the things I already know I should. Thanks!

  • I try to sneak in some reading whenever I have the opportunity. My computer is a bit slow so I have a book nearby to read while I wait for webpages to upload. I also enjoy listening to audio books while I do household chores, such as cooking or cleaning.

  • I try to sneak in some reading whenever I have the opportunity. My computer is a bit slow so I have a book nearby to read while I wait for webpages to upload. I also enjoy listening to audio books while I do household chores, such as cooking or cleaning.

  • Pingback: Luís Pereira – Implicadas()

  • frances

    love it!!!! done almost about all of ’em :]]

    great blog! keep it up! >:D<

  • I consider reading as important as anything else I do. (I am retired, so I can discount working for a living, although, as a librarian I was always “thinking reading” while working.) I have found that taking a 10-minute reading break after cooking, cleaning, doing paperwork, laundry — most of the tasks that fill my day — it’s amazing how much reading I can do. Also, I have found that I can do almost anything (however distasteful) if I know that I can read when I’m finished. Annie

  • Sam

    I like my TV to much to give that up, I mostly watch it at night though but I do read between commercials when I want to. Although I would love to read when I’m riding in the car but I get car sick easily and I’m not really into audio books, for some reason hearing someone read a book out loud irritates me and I don’t know why??? Every now and then I take my book into the bathroom with me but most of the time I forget it. And on the house work thing…well let’s say it don’t take much to give me a reason to not do it and reading is a good one. I live in a small trailer so it really don’t take long at all to clean it, its just getting me to do it. lol

  • Pingback: BOTNS #266: Stealing Minutes to Read | Books on the Nightstand()

  • Pingback: The Secret to Finding Time to Read | Readers In Wonderland()

  • Kat Snark

    These are great tips, thanks!! A lot of these I find myself doing already, but on #6, sometimes I find myself staying up until the early hours of the morning to finish a book, which is not conducive to sleep. DO NOT DO THIS PEOPLE!!! Riding the wave of a fantastic book with no sleep only lasts a few hours. If even

preload preload preload