As a librarian, it should not be a surprise that I am an avid reader. Not only do I love to read, but I find that a steady diet of good books challenges my mind and inspires and motivates me as a person. If you’re a full-time college student, a busy professional, and/or a parent, you might feel like there’s no time in your day to fit in more reading. Well, I disagree.
You can fit more reading into your life while doing the things you are already doing. Below are a few suggestions to keep you reading while you go about your busy life:
1. Have books in multiple places
I always have a book on my nightstand, in my car, and a digital download on my phone. This allows me to read at night, while I’m waiting in line at the bank, grocery store or drive thru, and as I run my errands. You would be surprised how much reading you can get done when it’s easily available. That hour you spend at the doctor’s office or getting your oil changed can be an hour spent doing something you enjoy.
2. Know what you want to read next
Many people will finish a book and then say “I don’t know what to read next.” Whether it’s an old fashioned paper list or an app, keep a list of books you hear about that peak your interest. I use the Goodreads app. It allows me to search for a book by title, author or even scan in the ISBN number and add it to my “To-Read” list. It only takes a second and it keeps me reminded of titles I would have otherwise forgotten. You’d be surprised how fast your list will grow just from books promoted in magazines or on TV or that you see in a store. Sites such as Amazon allow you to keep a “wish list” or you can use a social metadata website such as Librarything, Shelfari, Pinterest, or Bookish. All essentially give you the opportunity to have a virtual bookshelf, get recommendations based on what you read, and discuss books with other readers.
3. Read while exercising
If you exercise already, add reading to that time. I have found that large print books work well while using the elliptical or treadmill, and listening to a downloaded book makes a walk go by super fast.
4. Stop with all the rules
Many of us, because of school or strict parents somehow got the idea that if you start a book you must finish it before going to another. Well, unless you’re still a student there is no mandatory reading list. If you start a book and lose interest, move on. There will be no quiz over it on Friday. Reading should be an enjoyable hobby not a chore. Speaking of chores, audio books make the time pass while mopping, folding clothes, cooking or doing any number of tasks around the house.
5. Cut down on TV and Internet
I’m not one of those hippies that will tell you to throw your TV out the window or turn it into a fish tank. I happen to watch several TV shows and the news and enjoy my smart phone, favorite blogs and Twitter, but it’s easy to get sucked into a vortex of addiction to these things that will steal precious time from you if you let them. Instead, decide what works for you. For example, I generally check my Facebook, Twitter feed and personal email once a day, usually in the morning or in the evening after work. Once I’ve checked it for that day it’s done – I rarely go back until the next day unless I’m anxiously awaiting a response or have a specific reason to check back. I enjoy watching TV, but if I’m seeing the same news story for the 10th time or Friends episode for the 100th I turn it off. I generally DVR the shows I do like and watch them on my own time. Fast forwarding through commercials saves time, or if you’re watching live you can read during commercials. You’ll be surprised how often you keep reading and forget about the TV show.
6. Show your children that reading is a priority
Whether it’s during your morning coffee or at bedtime, explain to your children that it’s reading time and model the behavior. When your children are very young you may want to read to them or allow them to play, but they should be exposed to having books around. It doesn’t have to be a huge commitment. Set a timer for 15 minutes and tell them Mommy is going to read during that time and they need to find a book or activity they like to do too. I’ve seen this work with children as young as one year old. Perhaps they bang on pots and pans with the book or roll around with the book on their head, but they are interacting age-appropriately with the book and it won’t be long before they are reading it instead of chewing on it. Reading can also be a good tool to use during nap time. If your child refuses to lie down and go to sleep, read to them or give them the option of reading to themselves. This often lulls them to sleep – with no arguing. Reading is a great cure for insomnia for children and adults.
7. Have as many accesses points to books as possible
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to keep books around you and your children. Check with your local library. The Frisco Public Library has excellent book and digital book collections. Check with other area libraries – membership rules can vary but you may be able to join a library in your county, the town you work in, or even your state in addition to the city where you live. Swap books with friends and their children. There are numerous blogs dedicated to daily free Kindle books, and you can find free eBooks on home school and frugal-living blogs. Many classics eBooks are also available for free through the Gutenberg Project.
8. Be creative
If you have a smart phone you can always have a book in your pocket by downloading an eBook or an audio book. I’ve heard people swear they can read while brushing their teeth or blow drying their hair (though I’ve yet to give that a try – I would probably just make a mess.) Road trips or commutes to work or school go by so much faster with an audio book to listen to and there are plenty that the whole family can enjoy. With all the digital devices available, kids can have headphones and a book ready to go in the car.
So instead of trying to carve out time for one more thing, find ways to fit reading into your current life. It can be done – I promise. After all, you just found the time to read this!
Submitted by Jaclyn Pierce
Senior Librarian, Youth Services
Links to resources:
Frisco Public Library - http://www.friscolibrary.com/
Goodreads app - http://www.goodreads.com/
LibraryThing – http://www.librarything.com/
Shelfari – http://www.shelfari.com/
Bookish – http://www.bookish.com/
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/
Gutenberg Project – http://www.gutenberg.org/