How to Read More

Assuming that you want to read more of course. You might be completely happy with your book consumption rate. Me? I worry about all the important books out there that I might not read before I die. Then I read another Sweet Valley High novel. But if you’d like to read more, here are my tips to fit more reading into your day.

Consider Book Polygamy

I’m going to write a whole other post about this so I won’t go into too much detail. But if you only read one book at a time, you probably miss out on reading time. If you just don’t feel like your current book one evening, you might give it a miss. I’ll let you into a little secret: You could be reading something else in those moments.

Audio is Your Friend

I know, I know! I’m a bookseller. Why on earth would I encourage you to listen to audio books? As much as I love paper, hear me out. A debate sprang up in a facebook group recently. Someone asked if “reading” audio books was cheating. I suppose if you are six and you sign the pages off in your reading book then maybe. If you’ve finished primary school I don’t think it is. And it’s an excellent way to clock in more reading hours. I read eighty-four books in 2017 (don’t be that impressed, lots of them were Prawn Cocktail Crisp Books) and twenty of them were audio books. Some borrowed from the library and the rest from Librivox. That’s twenty books I simply would not have read otherwise. And they included Dracula, Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis and a rare Louisa May Alcott book I can’t find in print. I listen while I cook, clean, garden and drive. Which leads me to..

Read while You Commute

If you travel to work by bus or train then a book stashed in your bag is a comfort. And dare I say, a better use of my time than scrolling on a mobile phone, looking at nothing and feeling vaguely dissatisfied? If you walk or drive and you feel it’s safe, then audio is the way to go. I used to cycle to one job, and I’m afraid there is no way to cycle safely and read, but I’d to sing to myself and nose in other people’s gardens. For the non-cyclists, if your commute is a half-hour each way, that’s 225 hours of extra reading time per year, not even counting trips to the supermarket or days out.

Mix Reading with Quality Time

If you have children, consider reading to them even when they can read for themselves. A friend of mine still reads together with her thirteen-year-old and ten-year-old and they love it. They have just finished the four Anne of Green Gables books. And she’s the busiest person I know. If children aren’t an option, cats, budgies and even dogs quite like being read to, though you do get funny looks when other people catch you at it. I had a cockatiel who loved Tennyson. She used to come right up to my face when I read it, like she was trying to catch the words straight out of my mouth. A friend and I spent a glorious day in a park in the city sitting on a bench eating ice-cream and reading. I read two books in one day. Yes, okay, they were trashy, but it was sooo good.

Read in the Bath

It always surprises me when people say they’ve never done this. I think it’s my favourite hobby. If you don’t have a bath, then the time you save by showering can be used for reading. Okay, so you wouldn’t read rare and valuable editions this way, but the average paperback really doesn’t mind.

Read on Holiday

Most people do this already. Actually, a friend told me the only time he ever reads is on an aeroplane. Which is fair enough. The trick is to be willing to take it anywhere. Don’t leave it in the hotel or holiday cottage, carry it about. This is my friend Sarah and I reading in a hot spring in Tuscany.

My friend and I reading in a hot spring in Italy

I’ve got a paperback, she’s got a kindle (yes that is brave). Both survived the experience. You’ve seen extreme ironing, let’s start the extreme reading trend.

Never Leave the House Without a Book

Once I heard a coach driver complain his job was boring. He dropped folks off for a day trip and then he had to “sit around, doing nothing” waiting to take them home again. All I could think was, “But you could be reading right now!” Don’t bother with the year-old magazines in the dentist waiting room, don’t be bored while waiting for your daughter’s karate lesson to be over, bring your own entertainment everywhere you go.

In the wonderful Cousin Phillis by Elizabeth Gaskell there is this lovely conversation between Mr Holman and his daughter Phillis:

‘Can you tell me of any simple book on dynamics that I could put in my pocket, and study a little at leisure times in the day?’

‘Leisure times, father?’ said Phillis, with a nearer approach to a smile than I had yet seen on her face.

‘Yes; leisure times, daughter. There is many an odd minute lost in waiting for other folk.’

She’s teasing him about leisure times because he already gets up at 3am to read for an hour before he starts work on the farm at four. I’m not suggesting you do that.

But if you love to read, why not treat yourself to some extra reading time?

A woman reading a vintage book

2 Comment

  1. Marie Love says: Reply

    I love your blog post and love reading too especially in the bath (or toilet LOL). I see reading as my treat time…..I read rather than watch TV…..and all my kids have the same bug too. And as for the coach driver in your article. …well I would just want to shake him!!!

    1. Caroline says: Reply

      So lovely to hear this. Reading is so valuable to me in keeping my spirits high.

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