How I Find Time to Read

How I Find Time to Read

If you’ve spent five minutes on this blog, you probably know I read a lot–because I love it, and because I depend on the bibliotherapy to get me through my crazy days. (Four kids, you know?)

I don’t know how other bookworms read like it’s their job, but here’s how I do it.

Choose good books. 

I keep track of what I want to read in Goodreads, but I also have a physical stack of books I want to read (okay, maybe three or four stacks) around the house. I always have books I’m excited to read within easy reach.

Also, if you have a list (or pile) of books you want to read next, that gives you motivation to finish your current read.

what I'm reading

Utilize the power of suggestion. 

I usually have a book (or six) sitting on my nightstand, a couple on the coffee table, and a Kindle in my purse. I always have easy access to a good read, but I also am surrounded by visual reminders that I could be reading–and that I have a ton of good books waiting their turn.

These ever-present books inspire me to pick up my current read, because there are plenty of good ones to replace it when I’m done.

(Hey mamas–this works for kids, too. My kids will read almost anything if I leave it on the table and don’t try to sell them on it.)

Seize the moment. 

I’m okay with reading in ten-minute bursts. If I only read when I had a big chunk of time to devote to my book, I wouldn’t read very often. I’ll catch a few minutes before dinner, or waiting for ball practice to end, or while my kids are entertaining themselves in the backyard.

Read several books at once. 

I almost always have several books going at once. There is an art to doing this without going crazy, but I recommend it because if I’m not in the mood for the novel, I can read the nonfiction. If I don’t have time for a whole chapter before bed, I can read a poem. And when I finish a book, I don’t experience decision paralysis when I have to choose my One Next Read.

My current selections are pretty typical: I’m reading a novel (Maisie Dobbs), nerdy nonfiction (Predictably Irrational), a book about the craft of writing (Escaping into the Open), and a book of poetry (The House of Belonging). I also started Jane, Actually: or, Jane Austen’s Book Tour on my Kindle last week, but I haven’t touched it since. (Out of sight, out of mind.)

How I find time to read in the midst of a busy life

Find a rhythm. 

I almost always read a chapter or two during our daily rest time to decompress after homeschooling my kids all morning. (I used to feel like this was indulgent, until I realized I’m much more productive after a reading break.)

I typically read fiction to relax before bed, unless I think I’ll have trouble putting it down (a common problem). Memoirs make good bedtime reading, as does any book that’s best read a few pages at a time. (I couldn’t get into The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction until I started reading it a few pages at a time, right before bed.)

I also keep a stack of books by the bed that are easy to dip in and out of. Right now, that includes The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (it’s amazing), The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons from Extraordinary Lives, and Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. These books are enjoyable, but I don’t have any problem closing them and going to bed–unlike a great novel where I might feel compelled to begin the next chapter.

Do you read a lot? How do you find the time?

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80 comments

  1. Rachel says:

    I was wondering this whole post if you ever read any of Elizabeth Berg’s posts. Then I realized Escaping into the Open is one of hers! I recently saw her books in the library and decided to try one. Fell in love and am now on y 4th of her novels 🙂

    Also I feel like we are reading soul mates.

    • Anne says:

      Yay for reading soulmates!

      I read Escaping into the Open, but haven’t read any of her novels—yet. The Art of Mending is on my nightstand right now.

      • Rachel Komlo says:

        Art of Mending is amazing. So is Year of Pleasures. I’m just starting What We Keep. Her books are so good for the soul 🙂

  2. Shelley says:

    I tend to sneak some time in (30 minutes?) before making dinner….late afternoon. I NEED that downtime before embarking on evening activities. Often after dinner, my whole family will sit on the couch and read independently there before my husband and I read to the kids. I also often read after the kids are in bed, only watching TV here and there when something really worthwhile to me is on. Many nights, books trump TV.

    I also always carry a book with me for those in-between moments and YES, I too read while waiting for the water to boil! 😉

  3. LOVE these tips! Thanks for sharing. I do all of these, too, except the reading multiple books at once – I just can’t do it unless one is nonfiction/anecdotal and the other is a fiction novel. But I do always have a REALLY good book on-deck that I want to get to. My Goodreads account is linked to my Facebook feed, so friends are constantly asking me how I read “so much.” I really don’t think I read THAT much – during my lunch break at work every day and a few times a week before bed – but I those short spurts add up! And it’s a priority for me; if I don’t get to read during my lunch break, my afternoon is just never quite as good.

  4. Krista says:

    I am a little late to the game here, but I’d like to chime in. I also read several books at once, in case I need to shift my focus. One other thing I do is to always make sure I have a book on my iPhone. I check ebooks out from the library and I have ebooks I’ve bought from BN and Amazon, so if I find myself waiting at the doctor’s office, in line at the post office or grocery store, or anywhere else where I only have five or ten minutes to read, I can read! (Those books are usually books that require less focus because it’s hard when you’re only reading five or ten minutes at a time to pick a really “deep” book!)

  5. Jaime says:

    I enjoyed reading this! I never understand when people say they don’t have time to read. I thought maybe I was just crazy in the way I devour (most) books.

    The biggest thing that helps me read all the time is owning a Kindle Paperwhite (and the Amazon Kindle app on my phone, though I prefer my actual Kindle. It’s nice though, they sync up so I always have a “book” with me). It’s small, I can carry it around and read it anytime – outside, in bed, while eating, in the bath (just don’t drop it!).

    I never thought I’d like reading on a screen, but the convenience outweighs any cons. I remember all the times I attempted holding a book while eating or the crazy wind at the beach flipping my pages. Also when traveling, I always argued with myself over packing books because they took up so much room. The Kindle Paperwhite takes away all those problems. I love it!

    • Anne says:

      I just bought a few 800 page books for Kindle for just that reason: I LOVE long books but I HATE lugging them around! (I’m glad you love your Paperwhite and that it helps you read more. 🙂 )

  6. Anne–thanks for this. Ben is a lot like you; but, lately hasn’t had as much time to read. I forget what book he read ages ago, maybe it was the Paradox of Choice. In it the author spoke of the people who are “maximizers” and those who are “satisfiers.” I fall into the maximizer camp and him the latter. I wonder if you’re a satisfier; because, it’s all about being satisfied with the choice one makes without second guessing there is a better choice. They tend to be more content. While maximizers will weigh out all their options, and try to make the best possible choice. This typically leads to more discontent and lack of actually making a choice.

    I say all this in thinking of books. I get so overwhelmed by my choices that I don’t know where to begin or what if I don’t like my choice. I like your ideas here and I’ll begin applying them. I could definitely do 10 minute increments.

    • Anne says:

      That IS The Paradox of Choice, and I have been working for years to beat my inner maximizer (100% my default nature) into submission. I still struggle with this with reading a wee bit, but not too much. An abundance mentality helps: I spend a lot of time reading; there’s always time for another book. But that moment when I have to choose my NEXT read is still a little paralyzing. 🙂

  7. Kristen Stez says:

    I thought I was the only crazy person who read 6 different books at one time:) When people ask me how I find time to read, I tell them that I don’t watch much television, don’t have a Netflix subscription, and I keep my time on the computer to a minimum. It works for me!

  8. Caroline says:

    Nearly all the reading I do these days is out loud to my kids. One exception to this would be date nights with my husband. I truly believe that our best conversations happen over books!

  9. Deon says:

    I really enjoyed this post! I keep a pile of books by my bed, but never thought about keeping non-novels by the bed. I also have the problem of getting sucked into a bed time read, so something like a collection of short stories or nonfiction would be great idea.

    I’m also glad I’m not the only one that does stacks of books. I’ve got a stack of about six books on my night stand at home.

  10. Brittany Remme says:

    I am a full time nurse anesthesia student and I find time to read a book every 3 weeks. I will usually pair the paper copy with the audio book I check out from the library for free. This way when I am walking my dog, doing my dishes, laundry, sitting in traffic I can read my book. I love having the paper copy and this way I have a choice of mediums. Plus the audiobooks are free!

  11. Michelle says:

    I love your ideas and have many that are similar. I came across your blog about a week ago and fell in love. I was an English Major in College (many, many moons ago) and love nothing more than a good spring day, and good book, and a place to read. I have evolved my reading since college, now I vacillate between being a 10 minute reader (sometimes I get places early so I can have a half hour to read in the car!). Love the blog, love the book suggestions. I am just starting a blog as place to chronicle my love of reading for myself, what I read and when, as well as a few humorous tidbits of life along the way. Thanks for being inspiring!

  12. rhea says:

    wonderful thing to write about.. as we grow older the mind gets more crowded and so does the hours in a day.. very nice site Mrs Darcy..

  13. I wrote a post on my blog about finding time to read too, I suppose this is why your post stood out to me on pinterest this morning. 🙂 I work full time outside of home and have two boys and a husband. I rarely have quiet or down time to read, so I am really starting to love audiobooks. I get more things done at home because I want to keep listening! I do enjoy opening an actual book, but it’s not as convenient (or affordable) having a great selection to read. The library is great, but I don’t make it out there as often as I’d like; so at this time in my life, listening to free books on my kindle app or overdrive app is very convenient. ~Yessel

  14. Jennice says:

    I read at least 6 books at a time. I read them 100 pages at a time in rotation. I keep track of them on Goodreads as well. I always read a book that will fit into my purse when I have to go out. I read before bed, and during commercial breaks, and sometimes I will spend the entire weekend reading in my room while my daughter ignores me watching youtube.

  15. polly says:

    I enjoy your blog and, like you,I have a hodge podge style of reading.I have a book by my bed- or 2- and One I take in the car with me for waiting rooms, red lights,traffic, etc.I’m very pleased that 4 out of 5 of my kids take after me in this way. My husband isn’t in love with reading as a hobby, but every sop often he finds an author or a fiction series and reads everything he can from that author. then he’ll go months just reading the daily newspaper and the 2 magazines we get , Time and The Week, which all our kids also read when the new issue comes in and is on the counter, from our 7 yr old to our college kids, when they’re home.:)

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