Adventures in Reading: Trials of a time-pressed bibliophile

I used to love reading.

Putting it like that makes it sound like I don’t anymore, which is the furthest thing from true.

Reading is one of my earliest and most enduring pastimes.  As a child, I spent whole Saturdays at my local library.  My childhood summers were a parade of one book after another cracked open in any customary summertime location: the beach, the hammock in the yard, on a family vacation.

There’s nothing I love more than losing myself and my everyday surroundings in a great story.

I just don’t have much time for it anymore.

Of course, I know the adage: “No one has time; you make time.”  I even fully subscribe to this wisdom, in all areas of my life and with all pursuits that are important to me.

And it’s a good thing too, for I really don’t have time.

I’m one of the most planned and scheduled people you’ll ever meet, for whom every free moment is sacred, and my time (and that of others) is my most valuable currency.

True, I’m not a particularly high-powered person with business meetings and evening functions crammed into my BlackBerry.  I don’t even have children to keep me busy.

But I do work full-time, and try to get a fair amount done every day on top of that.

As an adult, my three best reading times in the past were while transiting to and from work, over my lunch break, and after supper while relaxing into the evening.

Unfortunately, all of these periods have since come to be occupied by three other essential tasks:

Cycle-commuting.

Exercising.

Writing.

Writing especially is one such task for which I don’t have, but rather make time.  Almost every single day.

But writers need to read too.  Perhaps more than anyone else, writers need to read.  For according to horror grand-master Stephen King,

If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.

“Simple as that.”

My resolution solution

One of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2013 is to read 12 books.  This roughly equates to a book a month, although I purposely didn’t phrase the resolution as such to improve my chances of actually achieving it.

Case in point: it’s now February and book #1 is not yet completed. I’d have failed in my resolution before even truly getting started.

These days, I’ve carved out a block of time for reading during the hour or so that I eat dinner, which, for the moment, works out well, as I live – and generally eat – alone.  I’ve also committed to reading at least 20 pages every weekend in amongst everything else I didn’t get to do during the week while at work.

Regular readers of this blog will already know that I trade in adventures (reference my About page).  What easier way to spawn an escapade then when you don’t quite have the time for it – when you’re squeezing precious minutes from dregs?

I’ll be blogging about my adventures in reading throughout the year in regular updates on this particular New Year’s Resolution.  Not book reviews per se (there’s already plenty of those to be found on Amazon and Goodreads); rather a review of my capers in get through each book.

My tentative reading list is set and I’m using the “Don’t Break the Chain” method to ensure I keep at it.

Ready, set, and awaaaaaay I go!

——————–

Question: When and where do you do your reading?  And what are you reading right now?

(Image source)

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13 thoughts on “Adventures in Reading: Trials of a time-pressed bibliophile

  1. Like you Janna I have a pretty full life. And (sadly) my reading is done almost exclusively at bedtime together with a small glass of something. Somewhat madly I’ve committed to reviewing indie books for http://masqueradecrew.blogspot.com/ and my first novel is Sketches from the Spanish Mustang by BX Writland. Next up on the Kindle is a collection of shorts by Shirley Jackson.

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    • Reading before bed is a very popular time from what I’ve heard from other bloggers and offline friends. Unfortunately, it’s not really the best time for me, as before bed, I’m usually still reeling from the writing I’d done earlier in the evening, and find it had to focus on anything other than recording the barrage of ideas that continues to flood me long after I’ve gotten up from the computer.

      Good luck with the reviewing gig. I’m sure it will help you find more reading time.

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  2. i can relate very well to the time-limitation factor. I’ve got a full-time job, a family, a novel I’m writing, a blog, an album I’m recording, and a weekly arts & entertainment article. As we’ve discussed in the past, I spend a lot of time staring at screens, so my eyes aren’t always in the mood for books.

    I’ve still managed to get through two and a half books so far this year, mostly by – don’t laugh – locking myself in the bathroom. I don’t know what they think I’m doing in there, and no one asks. Occasionally I’ll take a book to bed, especially if I’m getting close to the end.

    Do you count the books you use for research as reading for pleasure?

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    • Eric, reading about all that you’re doing almost makes me feel like I’m not trying hard enough, for you’ve got way more going on than I do. The secret to your success must be the bathroom; perhaps it’s a portal to another dimension where time moves at a fraction of its normal speed. Maybe that’s why no one questions what you’re doing in there.

      I do (and will continue to for the purposes of the 12 books in 2013) count research books. The book I’ve only just finished reading (and will discuss in a future blog post) was a biography of King John.

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  3. I don’t get nearly enough time to read, Janna and when I do I promptly fall asleep. I find it so hard to keep my eyes open these days when I’m reading a book (particularly when I’m in bed). I think it’s because of all the running around I’m doing and trying to organise the house move. Once I’m in the house and I have my ‘hammock chair’ on the veranda I’ll be able to sit there all day and read to my heart’s content 😀

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    • It’s good to know that it’s not just me who struggles to find reading time, nor is it just us, as a couple other commenters have reported same problem. Your hammock chair sounds like it will be a lovely place to sit in the sun and relax. Lately, I’ve been trying to read more on my sofa, rather than just doing so at my dinning room table, where I do everything else (i.e. eat, write, do paperwork, do crafts, talk on the phone). Doing so won’t create any extra time for reading, but it might make what little time I do have more comfortable.

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  4. I find reading in bed at night is almost certainly going to read to just 2-3 paragraphs being read before I fall asleep, exhausted. I know what you mean about lack of time, especially when you have other priorities. I find that I read more when I write or exercise less (I’ve read about 7 books in 7 days now that I have been struck down by flu and unable to do anything else), so perhaps rotating priorities may help. (You know, ‘this week I will focus more on writing, this week on reading etc.’)?

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    • Marina, I am unbelievably impressed: 7 books in 7 days while sick? I’ve never been able to read a whole book in a day, even while in perfect health. The best I’ve ever managed is a book over a weekend, and this was only when I did very little else, and the writing was fairly simplistic.

      Rotating priorities is an interesting idea that I’ve never actually considered. I tend to do the things that are most important to me every day to make them into something of a practice, and to not have to contend with the difficulties associated with restarting after a prolonged absence. But perhaps there is some way to shift my priorities on a shorter-team rotation. You’ve given me something to think about. Thanks for that. 🙂

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  5. For me, because I’m writing musical theater material right now, it’s important for me to regularly get out and see shows, or at least listen to their soundtracks. I’ve been listening recently to the Next to Normal soundtrack, and it’s becoming one of my favorite shows — I definitely highly recommend it.

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