How to Find More Time to Read: Part Two

How to Find More Time to ReadLast week I started the series on “How To Find More Time To Read” by emphasizing prioritizing reading, and finding motivation if you need it.

This week I’m getting into more specifics. So you’ve decided that reading more is important to you. How can you manage it with everything else you need to do?

Read in snippets

What does this mean? It means while the water is heating for a cup of tea, I can read a page. It means when the kids are playing quietly for a few minutes, I can read another page. Anytime I have a moment, I can read a paragraph or maybe more. The key is to always have something to read with me.

It’s a reason to have books scattered throughout the house; no matter what room I’m in I can pick up something and read. It’s a reason I love my Kindle, because it makes it easy to have something always easily accessible.

Read a variety
  • I already touched on this briefly last week, when I said that I try not to read fiction at bedtime lest I stay up way too late when I can’t stop reading. I also wrote an entire post about reading multiple books at a time – if I’ve got a variety of types of books I’m reading, it’s easier to fit the reading material to the situation.
  • If I’m reading while watching my kids play, I need something that won’t take lots of concentration; I’ll be looking up too often to sustain deep focus. Lighter fiction is perfect for this.
  • Certain books just fit my current mood or setting. Light and fun, thoughtful and complex – it matters what I pick when.
  • Many of the books I like best I want to take time and savor, and an easy way for me to do that is to limit myself to a chapter a day. Only reading one chapter at a time, I work my way through 4 or 5 books simultaniously, and can always find something that fits my current reading mood.

“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read.”
– Mark Twain

“Read” audio books

When I had a daily commute I made great use of that driving time by listening to audio books. My library had a great selection, but if yours doesn’t, I’ve heard great things about the Audible program as a way to get audio books. My library offers them as CDs you can borrow, or as MP3 downloads you can get from home. Super simple, once you get it set up initially.

No commute? I’ve listened to audio books while cleaning my house, exercising, or working on jigsaw puzzles. If I could do it while listening to a radio, I was always eager to try listening to a book instead.

And keep in mind, narrators can make or break an audio book, so if you try one and don’t like it, don’t write off the entire realm of audio books. Try a different book (maybe even a different sort of book), and a different narrator to see if you enjoy it that way. I found nonfiction to be the hardest to predict if I’d like it as an audio book or not; some books worked really well having all the unfamiliar terms and names pronounced for me, and others didn’t work as well for me if I wanted to be able to flip back to other parts easily.

Read to your kids

Not only does this help develop a passion for reading in your children, it fosters a close relationship and lets you read more. Win, win, and win!

Of course you’ll have to be selective in the choice of reading material when you’re reading it aloud to your children, but there are plenty of great books for all ages. I fully agree with C.S. Lewis’ thoughts that a book that isn’t worth reading when you’re an adult isn’t worth reading when you’re a child.

Reading time to my kids is also a prime time to get more Bible reading in – as Carrie Ward discusses in her book Together which details her reading the entire Bible to her young children. I haven’t been as consistent as Ward was, but I especially like reading a Psalm or two while they’re eating breakfast. The slower pace that reading aloud requires allows me to also get a lot more out of what I’m reading, which is such a benefit when I’m reading Scripture.

And remember –

it’s ok to not finish a book.

Nothing kills my love of reading more than “having” to read a book. Unless what you’re reading is required for school or work, you don’t have to force yourself to finish something you’re not enjoying. When I’ve had to finish a book I don’t enjoy, I found that it made me dread reading not only that book, but any other book as well. My overall reading pace would slow to a crawl.

Now that I’m no longer in school, I remind myself that it is ok not to finish a book. It’s ok to give up on it quickly. It’s ok to give up on it even if I’m almost to the end. Honestly I still struggle with this – once I start a book it is very hard to not finish it, but I work on reminding myself that there is only so much reading time available, so is this book really how I want to be spending it?

Read what you like.

A book that I’m excited to read I will do all I can to find those extra bits of time to spend reading. When a book is plodding or doesn’t keep my interest, it’s easy to be pulled away by the tv or random internet surfing. Put it down and pick up a different one! Just because it’s a best seller / recommended by your best friend / recommended by a favorite resource, doesn’t mean that the book will be right for you. That’s ok – read what you like.

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  1. I just signed up for my library’s audiobook app! I am excited to try it out. Another “tip” I used recently to break out of a reading slump was to read a book that I knew I would love — for me, it was the next book in the Maisie Dobbs series. I have a lot of “heavier” books on my to-do shelf, but just to get back into the habit of reading, going back to familiar characters and an enjoyable mystery storyline was just what I needed.

    • Yes! I can’t believe I forgot that one – it’s definitely one I do when I’ve hit a lull. I often try to sandbag a couple of books that I *know* I’ll like so if I hit one of those slumps I’ve got something available to pull me out of it. So glad you mentioned it since I forgot to. 🙂

    • Also, I want to hear about how you like the audiobook app once you’ve had time to try it. 🙂

  2. Again, I just agree with all you wrote.
    My big stumbling block is internet time. That’s an area where I need to be careful and deliberate, so I don’t end up using too much time just browsing and surfing aimlessly.

    For audiobooks, may I also suggest They provide free public domain audiobooks, read by volunteers. Since the readers are volunteers, the quality varies, but you can listen to a bit to know how you like the reader’s voice. I’ve been pretty happy with the books I have listened from there – most of them have been my old favourites, but I’ve enjoyed revisiting the Anne of Green Gables series, Austen novels, Wind in the Willows etc. this way.

    • Internet time is my biggest “voluntary” issue (kids are my biggest issue with reading time, but I can’t do much about that right now. Internet surfing time? Yes, I certainly can.)

      Thanks for mentioning librivox – I glanced at it once ages ago when it was very new, and didn’t find anything that caught my eye. But it was so new they didn’t have many options – they have a lot more now, and I think I’ll see what I can find to try. I had completely forgotten about them!

  3. I love listening to audiobooks. My favorite one is Eat Pray Love read by Elizabeth Gilbert herself. It takes me on the journey with her, and I listen to it once a year.

    • I’ve never read that one (or listened to it)! I don’t generally like authors reading their own books, but memoirs are a frequent exception.

  4. I started reading a lot more once I tried audio books. I was doing a lot of brainless work at school, so I started listening to audio books. It made the time fly, and I started zooming through my TBR list.

    • Absolutely – I used to have a job that had a tedious component that I actually loved doing, because I could easily listen to an audio book while working on it. I felt like I was getting paid to read!

  5. Plopinette says:

    You might like this :
    I’s “the reader’s 10 rights” by Daniel Pennac (a famous modern French author).

    • That’s a wonderful illustration! I heard about that list in library school (don’t remember what class), but don’t recall hearing who wrote it, and had forgotten all about it. Thanks for sharing this! 🙂

  6. I LOVE that Mark Twain quote – for many years it was framed and hanging in my library/office. I love all of your tips and I consider myself a master at reading in snippets. I prop up a book while making breakfast, while brushing my teeth, while folding laundry… Even now, though, at the ripe old age of thirty-something, I have a really hard time not finishing a book. Sometimes I get bogged down in something that I don’t care for and it slows all my reading down.

    • Ugh, yes to your last comment. I hate it when I let myself get bogged down by a book I’m not enjoying. And you’re good at multi-tasking reading – I was never able to read while brushing my teeth though I tried it a couple of times. Never with an e-reader though – maybe that might make the difference!

  7. I don’t like audio books… but that’s because I tune them out way too easily! Definitely not an auditory learner! 🙂

  8. Great advice!!!!

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