We all live very busy lives and there are now more things than ever vying for our attention. Messages appear on our phones demanding a reply, time is spent crafting witty Facebook updates or Tweets, emails flood your Inbox, amusing gifs need to be shared; generally the entire Internet is there to distract you. Added together, these distractions, while satisfying, eat into the valuable time of reading books and stories that take you away from our modern distractions into new places, times, and ideas.
We’re still reading but it is always in bite size chunks and it can leave many of us wishing we had more time to read. You may have a long list of books you wish to devour, perhaps one of the many classics, or an author that you’ve long wanted to read for the first time but never thought you’d get round to. You think you just can’t find the time. But you can. So how do we find the time to read more of what you want to?
Let’s start with all those distractions. When reading a book, switch off the notifications on your phone or tablet. Messages and updates can wait. Peace and quiet will reign supreme when your emails and tweets are muted and stop interfering with your reading. When I read, I switch my phone to ‘Do Not Disturb’ so nothing from the ‘real’ world can drag me away from the imaginary one the words on the page are creating.
But perhaps you don’t have time to sit and read? One option is to not read but listen. When you listen to an audiobook you are free to multitask when you do the washing up, walk the dog or are at the gym. Let a novel liven up those dull repetitive moments in your life and transport you to somewhere else. You never know, you may stop seeing that pile of dirty dishes as a chore and more as an opportunity.
Still busy but not interested in listening to audiobooks? Then take a book with you wherever you go. From a book in your bag to your entire library residing on your tablet or phone, when you look at your day, spending five or ten minutes with your head in a book or a screen and those pages will fly by. Time stops being a measurement of seconds and minutes and becomes the number of pages you can squeeze in. A line of people at a checkout becomes a page or waiting for a train becomes two pages. Being on hold on the phone to your bank – who knows?
Despite this, are you still struggling to find the time to read? Then you may need to change what you are reading and consider exploring a collection of short stories. These fulfilling slices of literature are ones that you can enjoy in much briefer yet still fulfilling moments of the day. Read a short story or two a day, perhaps on a lunch break or on the bus, and before you know it, you’ll have read an entire collection by the end of the week. There is nothing that encourages a reader more than turning that final page and finishing a book.
Finally, you may just have to make time. Wake up earlier and read for thirty minutes before work. Get off the bus one stop early to listen to another chapter of your audio book. Swap the free newspaper on the Tube home to a paper of a different variety. I’ve been quite lucky of late in that starting a new job has meant a long commute time. Not ideal you may think, but I now have more reading time than I have ever had before. All good things do come at a cost though as it meant giving up on precious sleeping time in the mornings!
Ultimately though, one question still remains – do you really not have time to read? In the end JK Rowling may have answered it best for us: “I never need to find time to read. When people say to me, ‘Oh, yeah, I love reading. I would love to read, but I just don’t have time,’ I’m thinking, ‘How can you not have time?’ I read when I’m drying my hair. I read in the bath. I read when I’m sitting in the bathroom. Pretty much anywhere I can do the job one-handed, I read.” Rowling may have created magical worlds for us to explore but she has also seen all the magical opportunities for reading that now surround us in our complicated lives.
With this in mind, stop reading this blog and go pick up a book…
Rob Chilver is a bookseller and Social Media assistant for Waterstones, working on a number of mediums from blogging to Twitter and Instagram. He also writes about books at AdventuresWithWords.com and hosts a fortnightly books podcast with Kate Neilan. He can be found on Twitter and on Instagram: @robchilver