Finding the Time

December was a horrible reading month for me. Not because I was reading bad books; I liked what I read. It was a bad month because I read so little. I finished one review book and half of another (which I basically liked, but couldn’t seem to get through), and managed one book sheerly for pleasure. It had to be the least I had read in recent memory, and it felt dismal.

It got me thinking about when we read. Both during the days and the years. When AAR was younger (and so was I), I was a stay at home mom. The first year I reviewed I easily knocked out 8-10 books/reviews a month, a pace that astounds me now. I had three kids, but no paid job, and my husband worked a lot of nights and weekends at the time, so it wasn’t like I was exactly out on the town, either. I’m not exactly sure how I did it, because little kids are a lot of work – but they must have slept sometimes, because I was polishing off a book every couple of days. I’d read over a hundred in a year.

Sometimes I would get the question: “How do you find the time to read all those books?” I admit to feeling pretty smug about it at the time. “I read them while you’re watching TV,” I’d think. To some extent, that’s true. I’m still astounded by the amount of TV many people can take in. But as the years have gone on and my reading speed has diminished accordingly, I’ve had to acknowledge that TV is only part of the story. A full time job can cut down on your reading time considerably, and the world of online attractions has expanded exponentially. I’m capable of losing a lot of time keeping up with facebook and twitter, and we won’t even mention my little scramble habit. Oh, and I started a new job with a longer commute, so that shaves off some reading time too.

When do I read now? Every night, and usually during my lunch. I don’t work every day, of course, but my days off are usually filled with errands and miscellaneous AAR work – not, unfortunately, reading. If I’m exhausted at night, I don’t necessarily get a lot of reading done, even if I am enjoying my current book. I’d like to turn this around and carve off more reading time, but I’m not really sure how to make that happen (really, I still don’t watch that much TV). Maybe the best solution is to go on more vacations, because I read like there’s no tomorrow on an airplane.

What’s your experience with this? Are you at a time in your life where you read a lot or a little? What factors in your life influence your reading time? And when, exactly, do you find the time to read?

21 thoughts on “Finding the Time

  1. Being a SAHM does increase one’s reading but I don’t read anymore than I did when they were babies. I do have more mtgs etc than most with one on either end of the asd spectrum and truly have no idea how without one person at home atleast part time people do this. Farm books are ‘casual’ IMO.

    I can read the average mmp in 4 to 6 hours depending on how much I have to concentrate on it. So I don’t need a lot of time to read nor do I watch tv. At bedtime I reread which seems to shut the thoughts down so I can sleep.

  2. I go through stages where I read a lot and other times I don’t. Most of the time it depends on the books available.

    I also read more when I am stressed or unhappy. Maybe craving the heroine simple HEA and resolution of her problems? Or just escape.

    Of course with the winter months, I read more. This week it has rained most of the week and been cold. That definitely has me bringing out the books.

    It is difficult to read at work although I do it at times. I only have 30 minute lunch so it can be rushed with going to the cafeteria and getting food and then eating.

    I don’t read as much as I used to do though. Playing computer games, and web surfing has cut into my reading time.

  3. My problem is that I like to read before going to sleep at night, but lately I’ve been so tired, I get only a few pages in before my eyes start rolling into the back of my head and I’m dropping the book. I have so many TBR books my husband is starting to think I have a book hoarding problem. It’s as if I believe that at some point in the near or distant future, all of the sudden I’m going to have tons of time to read this insane backlog of books I’ve collected. My kids are old enough to take care of themselves and I’m a SAHM, but there are so many other things that compete with my time that sitting down with a book isn’t something I ever seem to find the time to do. I can’t imagine what is going to change so that I can make a dent in my piles. I feel kind of like that guy in that famous “Twilight Zone” episode who just wants endless time to read.

    • Lynn M: feel kind of like that guy in that famous “Twilight Zone” episode who just wants endless time to read.

      Lynn M, I know what you mean about the Twlight Zone guy. LOL. One of my ways of dealing with the reading issue (so many books, so little time) is audio books. I “discovered” audio books a year or so ago and now I listen to many books during my compute to work and while I am doing chores, etc. It allows me the opportunity to keep up with my reading and has exposed me to some old favorites that come to life again in the audio format.

  4. I am blessed to say I retired in 2009, so I get to read a lot. I joke now that if I knew retirement was this good,I would have done it years ago. I used December to get acquainted with Christmas Stories. I have a friend who reads them every year, but for some reason I never did. Not this year! I read Christmas stories, anthologies and recipes. Watched Christmas movies until my eyes glazed over( George C. Scott in “A Christmas Carol” is my all time fave). And then read some more Christmas stories.

    I “discovered” Carla Kelly and am currently working my way through her backlist. BTW what’s up with publishers not offering ALL an authors backlist books in e-format? Anyway, I am loving living in an age where I can get a book electronicall delivered to me in seconds, but still hold an old copy of a treasured author in my hands.

    To paraphrase Garrett Morris from SNL…”December was ‘bery ‘bery good to me”.

    • I found it hard when my kids were young with a full-time job to read more than one or two books a week and I learned then if I didn’t like the book after some reasonable amount of time there was no use wasting my precious 45 minutes a day on reading it.
      I watch very little TV, but still work full-time and my job requires lots of technical reading and lots of mental work. Truthfully, my eyes are too tired for pleasure reading when I come home sometimes! Never had that problem when I was young. But when I’m on vacation – look out! I’m in my beach chair listening to the ocean reading a book by 8 am every morning!

      VictoriaS: George C. Scott in “A Christmas Carol” is my all time fave).

      I love George C. Scott in ‘A Christmas Carol’ although Jimmy Stewart in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ is a tie for me.

  5. @Lynn M – this was one of the primary reasons I got an ereader. Even I had to acknowledge that the book hoarding was getting out of hand. But it both solved and created a problem: With an ereader I can read in bed in total darkness. pre-ereader I was banished to the game room to read at night. Now I read in bed and fall asleep much faster. And therefore read less.

    • Yes, I got a Nook last Christmas, and I absolutely love it. I’m trying really hard to buy e-books instead of paper copies simply so that I can try to get some control over my overflowing shelves and stacks. And I do love being able to read later at night than I used to because I either had to turn out the light so my husband could sleep or deal with an awkward, klutzy book light.

      I am finding one problem with my Nook, though. Now, whenever I read a review of a book I think I might enjoy, I download a sample of it to the Nook so that I can give it a try. But it seems like I end up buying 9 out of every 10 samples I download! It’s just so easy to read an on-line review, click the mouse a few times and have the book on my Nook. At least with paper books, I’d have to order from Amazon or go to the bookstore so at least put some effort into it. My other vice is Paperback Swap. While I do get rid of books, I gain credits that means more books coming in. At least those are used and relatively “free”.

  6. Retirement is definitely one answer to the I-don’t-have-enough-reading time. Another solution is surgery and recovery. I used both methods this year and logged a little under 300 books read in 2012.

    I would highly recommend the first method (retirement), but strongly not recommend the second (surgery/recovery).

    Like you, Blythe, the older I get, the slower I read. I don’t know if this is reduced eye-brain coordination or what. All I know is that the process takes more time and leaves fewer memories than it did when I was younger.

    We also remodeled our house this year and gave away about a thousand books to Good Will, many we have electronically, many free copies of textbooks and readers I received when I taught English, and many novels we’d read and then stuck on a shelf to give away “sometime.” Sometime came this summer. Now my only TBR pile is on my Kindle.

    • Pat: Like you, Blythe, the older I get, the slower I read.

      I’ve definitely noticed that, for sure. Also, my focus isn’t there for hours on end as it was when I was 20 years younger. I need breaks from reading now, especially if it’s not the most interesting story. Sometimes it takes 3 or 4 days to read a book that once took only 1 or 2 days. Haven’t yet decided if that’s good or bad. Taking more time seems to help me retain more details from them. Often, when I ran through a story previously to get it done because of time restraints, I forgot many details that helped make the book more interesting. The author took many months to write that story; the least I can do is give it its due attention, especially if it’s a good one. :)

  7. I think a full-time job with fixed hours is part of the issue. As a PhD student I worked much longer hours than I do now: 60+ hour working weeks were the norm, with very little vacation time. But I had a lot more freedom at allocating my time, and read in bursts during breaks. I went through a lot more books than I do now. These days my hours are shorter, but my routine is more fixed, with fewer odd breaks to read a chapter or so. The fact that I have more free time also means that I can spend more of it with friends or hobbies that I could not even consider before given the constraints on my time and energy. These end up filling a lot of hours, and I end up reading less in total, but having more other things to do.

  8. I too recommend audio books to increase the amount of reading you’ll get to in a year. My commute to work is only about 15 minutes each way but if you add the time you spend weeding in the garden, doing housework, or getting out to walk or hike, you’ll be amazed at how many books you can get through this year. Even better, the release dates for audiobooks are closely approximating their print publication dates.

    • I am thinking of listening to more books. I went from a seven minute commute each way to 35-40 minutes. I definitely have more time in the car. I’ve been listening to all the Harry Potter books (again) but could definitely branch out.

  9. Depending on the size of the book I read at least 2 a week, always in bed at night and sometimes all night long. Its does make for a strange next day however. I prefer the written word to audio but I am trying to use my elliptical more and the audio book does serve a good purpose to getting my butt on the thing.

  10. Like several people here mentioned the way I squeeze in more reading is with audio books. I used to read print (or ebooks) in bed for an hour or two each night. Now I find my eyes too tired lots of nights to do that. So instead I turn on whatever book I’m listening to.

    During the work week I try and squeeze in reading when I can. I now try to read at least 15-20 minutes each day at lunch when I work. If the weather is nice, I’ll go for a walk and listen to an audiobook. If the weather is lousy I’ll sit at my desk and read on the Kindle app on my phone (it looks like I’m just checking my mail so no one questions me).

    I keep adding the times and activities that I listen to audiobooks. When I first started I just listened while driving. Now I listen while walking anywhere, grocery shopping, shopping in the mall or other stores, cleaning my home, sitting in doctors’ offices for appointments, etc., etc.

    Adding the Kindle app to my phone (something I always have with me) also allows me to squeeze in more reading.

    • I’d had the kindle app on my phone for years, but I just never use it. I don’t like reading on such a tiny screen. However, I basically always have a book with me, either a hard copy, my nook, or ipad.

  11. I have a job that is requiring me to work 10-12 hours a day plus a lot of time on the weekends so reading has really slowed down. This is a short term problem but in order to get some reading in, I do it while on the treadmill. I can read about 70 pages while walking my 2.5-3 miles.

  12. I have no kids and no job but I watch way too much TV and am on the computer for large amounts of time also. In the summer we have a pool so we have people over all the time.

    I laugh about reading before going to sleep – there is a reason I’m up at night. I don’t know how you put a book down if it has really grabbed you. I remember when I lived at home my mother’s light and my light would be on until the wee hours in the morning – I only read in the summer months because I can’t be without sleep.

    I have always been a slow reader also and a normal book will take me 8 straight hours to read. Knowing this, I don’t like to start books too close to bed time because I know I won’t stop reading. I also don’t like interruptions so reading before company comes is always a hassle.

    But I knew I had to do something so now whenever I end up at Home Depot with my husband, I sit in the car and read. If the story catches my attention then I’m my likely to keep reading but again, the smallest thing can get my attention away from the book.

    My plan this year after the Annual Poll is to go and read the winners from the previous years (that’s how far behind I am in reading) and then try and find new auto-buy authors. I know it’s bad when I see recommendations for authors I’ve never heard of.

    CindyS

  13. Ah this piece rang a bell for me. I also worked for AAR for years while working from home. And I also figured that I was reading in mother’s TV time. For that matter I felt the same way about cooking. I cooked many pots of stew wondering why my kids friend were eating frozen dinners.

    Now I have a full time job with a three hour commute. I know exactly why.

    I still read a lot but nothing like the 120 a year I once knocked out. I read on the Washington DC Metro –Washington Post in the morning/ books at night. I’ve been known to miss my stop. I also listen to books at night. It’s a great way to stop obsessing about the office.

  14. LOL, Robin – my kids get a home cooked meal on Sundays. And occasionally on my other days off. I didn’t intend for them to consume quite this much Kraft macaroni and Stoeffer’s french bread pizza.

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