One thing I hear a lot when I talk with friends, family, and colleagues about reading is that they don’t have time to read. I instantly feel a pang of guilt because without their knowing it or perhaps meaning to convey this message at all, I tend to interpret this as a veiled criticism: I am either 1) not busy enough in my life if I have so much time to read, or 2) I am not doing something I should be doing if I can read so much. Now, of course what the person is really saying is probably something closer to “I envy you for being good about carving out time for reading; I wish I could.” My contention is that if reading is truly important to you, you will make time to do it. If it is something expendable to you, you will dispense with it.
I have to read.
Reading is essential to my happiness. When I don’t make some time to do it, I actually become grouchier. In the past few years that I have been book blogging, hence reading more, I am actually happier than I have been in years when I have done less reading.
If you are having trouble carving out that time, it might be that you are not taking advantage of down time. I loathe Newt Gingrich, but I will never forget reading a story about him in which he describes taking a book with him wherever he goes in case he has to wait. If he is in line anywhere, or is waiting for an appointment, he whips out his book and uses the time to read. I know that one seems obvious, but a lot of people don’t do it. Nowadays, you can even download reading apps on your phone or carry your e-reader, so it isn’t even onerous to carry a book with you wherever you go.
Another great time to read is during your commute. If you ride a bus or train, easy enough, but even if you drive, you can try audio books. We listened to Daphne Du Maurier’s [amazon_link id=”B000GH2YPG” target=”_blank” ]Rebecca[/amazon_link] on our trip to Salem last summer, which was a great way to pass our time in the car. I have listened to several audio books in the car, and in some cases, I think listening was better than reading. For example, the narrators of the audio version of [amazon_link id=”0143144189″ target=”_blank” ]The Help[/amazon_link] were fantastic, and the narrator who voiced Minny in the book—Octavia Spencer—is Minny in the film. In other cases, I think I would have preferred reading the actual book as audio can be difficult if you’re trying to follow an intricate plot. My point is that commuting is often down time we can use to read, one way or another.
It can be hard to carve out time to read if you have a demanding job, small children, or something else more pressing that needs your attention, but you can make the time if you truly want to make the time. It’s a matter of looking for it.