Please join me in welcoming Sarah Stewart Holland to the blog!
I love to read, but realized I was only finishing one or two books a month. I love connecting with friends and family, but realized recently I was going months without talking to the most important people in my life.
Then, I discovered “temptation bundling.” “Temptation bundling” is linking together two activities — one you should do but maybe avoid or have trouble making time for; and one you love to do but can be easily forgotten among more urgent tasks.
What if I combined my goal of reading more with connecting with family and friends?
It wouldn’t be a book club necessarily. Everyone I wanted to connect with lived far way, so face-to-face meetings wouldn’t be feasible. Plus, I didn’t want to form a group whose focus was reading.
My best friend and I had been reading books together for several years and I always loved our emails back and forth in which we would share favorite quotes or takeaways. Why couldn’t I do that with other people?
I pitched the idea to my two best guy friends from college. We all live in different states and would sometimes go several months without speaking. So, I sent them an email asking if they’d like to read a book together. They loved the idea and we picked Lolita – a classic I’d wanted to read forever but just couldn’t motivate myself to pick up.
For fans of Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies, I’m mainly an Upholder but have Obliger tendencies when it comes to activities I see as purely recreational. Reading is so important to me (but without an unfair advantage) it easily falls to the bottom of my to do list with three kids and a busy career. I’m FAR more likely to finish a book when I have other people depending on me to discuss it. Plus, it gives me a deadline, which gives me a happiness boost as I check my daily page goal off my list.
My friends and I decided to take our time and talk again after reading the first half of the book in several weeks. Since we weren’t an official book club, we didn’t need to stick to any strict schedules. Knowing the call was coming motivated me to pick up Nabokov’s novel every day, which let me tell you is NOT a light and easy read.
When it came time to chat, I spent a lovely evening catching up with my dear friends AND learning so much more about the book through their insights. We’ve read four more books together since then. Now, instead of feeling sad when I see their faces pop up in my Facebook feed, I feel excited for our next discussion. Not to mention, I’ve learned so much more about them through their book selections alone. My musician friend is interested in physics?!? Who knew?!
I’m now hooked on reading together. My best friend from high school moved to Turkey and we kept missing each other because of the time difference. Now, we’re reading Americanah together. (I’m also reading that with my two guy friends from college – three friends, one book!) A close friend and I went on vacation together and read A Prodigal Summer while at the beach. We had so much fun we decided to keep it up and are now reading A Royal We (SO delightful by the way!).
I’ve even realized long distance isn’t a requirement. I’m always looking for new ways to connect with my husband. After I shared an article on must-read history books to my Facebook page, he suggested we read one of the books together!
Combining two activities I already loved but couldn’t find the time for has made me prioritize both in a whole new way. By bundling books and friends I connect more with those I love the most AND spend more time reading. I’ve already read twice as many books this year as I did last year and that’s WITH the birth of my third son in February.
Now every time I think, “MAN, I love that person so much I wish I talked to them more!” I send an email with a simple question, “Wanna read a book together?”
Sarah Stewart Holland is a writer and eighth-generation Kentuckian. She blogs at Bluegrass Redhead about parenting, politics, and her small town life at bluegrass redhead. A mother of three boys, Sarah likes her bourbon on ice, her romantic dramas with a British accent, and her iPhone fully charged.