A few months ago The Readers podcast discussed how avid readers could carve out even more of their day to indulge in their favourite activity. You can listen to the discussion here.
It’s something I’ve been wrestling with recently when faced with the realisation that a)my personal library (sometimes known as the TBR) is ever increasing and b) I keep hearing of books I really want to read, whether new issues or ones that have been around for decades, or maybe centuries.
Andy Miller solved the issue by setting himself a goal of reading 50 pages a day when he embarked on his Year of Reading Dangerously (click to link to see my review). For him, that meant sometimes spurious visits to the Post Office so he could stand in the long queue and read…. Ingenious but I reckon Mr BookerTalk would get suspicious about my sudden need for stationery and postage stamps in a world of electronic communication. Seeing a page goal is of course one way to rattle through books but if feels a bit like a chore to me. I did it a few times when I needed to read a book by a certain date for the book club discussion – I ended up dividing the total page count by the number of days to get to my daily tally. The freaked when I saw the result. It meant all the time I was reading I was checking my progress and re-calculating my score. Not how the reading experience should feel.
Rather more appealing is the approach used by Patrick Ness who decided that he wanted to better appreciate short stories so set himself a task of reading one before breakfast every day. As a warm up for the day ahead that is rather more enticing than reading the daily newspaper litany of calamity, intrigue or vacuous celebrity gossip. And its something that could easily be adapted to say reading one chapter of a book rather than a short story. So appealing – but have I done it? Er, no….
Today I noticed that Goodreads has an article which lists strategies to find more time for reading adopted by people who responded to a social media poll.
Some of them will be very familiar to you:
- commute to work by public transport instead of driving
- if you have to drive, then use audio books
- switch your habit of watching tv at night and read instead (I know a lot of you have done that)
- retire from work (that sounds good but in reality other things have a habit of taking over what you think is spare time)
- schedule ‘me’ time which you use to curl up with a book
One that I liked the sound of though was this
“Throughout the day I play a little game. I read a chapter (just one) and then I get up and clean something. Example: Go and sweep the kitchen floor. Then read a chapter. Then fold a load of clothes and put them away. Then go read another chapter. I can do this all day. It works great for me!” (Shannon Strickland-Brown)
It’s the perfect ‘carrot’ in the ‘carrot and stick’ approach except with this there is no stick unless you consider publishers to whom you have promised reviews, the stick. The beauty is that it lends itself to all kinds of household chores or tasks I don’t want to do. Filling the car up with petrol (always a distress purchase for me), or cleaning the cooker (yuk), weeding the flower bed or emptying the dishwasher. Of course there is the temptation to make those jobs so small that you end up spending more time reading than doing them!!. Is it acceptable to read a chapter every three garments I iron I wonder or do I have to get through the whole basket before I feel I’ve earned the right to pick up the book?
It has the makings of a good swaps game doesn’t it?
30 minutes ironing = 30 minutes reading
two garments ironed = 15 minutes reading
one basket of ironing =a whole morning reading
It will undoubtedly mean the chores take longer to finish but just think of the pleasure you’ve earned.
Do any of those strategies appeal to you? Anyone fancy playing the ironing swap game or are you too busy already reading??