Find Time to Read? No, Make Time

Some statements addressed to me by friends, family, and other folk:

“Wow Thomas, I see you with a book all the time! How do you even find time to read?”

“Thomas, as a busy college student, you must really have no friends or no life to read as much as you do.”

“Why am I writing this blog post when I could be reading Game of Thrones? Why do I do anything when I could be reading Game of Thrones?”

Okay, the last one belongs to me – but I do have a sincere reason. With 2014 approaching, I see more and more people making cool and challenging reading goals for the new year. I thought it would be helpful to share some tips and tricks to maximize your reading time beyond just “procrastinating less” or “becoming a nun but secretly reading instead of doing whatever nuns do.” At college I’ve learned to value time spent reading, and while it is true that I do not possess a life or friends, here are some techniques for those of you who do.

Woo! Not sure how many books I should shoot for next year, with college and all - any suggestions?

Woo! Not sure how many books I should shoot for next year, with college and all – any suggestions?

Make it a habit. When I first started working out, I forced myself onto a treadmill every day for two weeks. After that, my body would just feel weird if I didn’t sweat to inappropriate pop music on a daily basis. Perhaps start with a goal of  getting through 20 pages a day, or reading for 15 minutes every day – adjust it to your standards, and give yourself breaks along the way, like one day off per week. Humans prefer routine and in the end you cannot lose yourself in a book if you never pick it up in the first place.

Read everywhere. Literally, everywhere. I don’t know why people think it’s rude to read at restaurants when so many patrons end up staring at their phones during conversational lulls and awkward silences. When my dad and I have nothing to say to each other, we read – but if this makes you uncomfortable, there are plenty of other places you can read. You can read while working out at the gym, you can listen to audio books while walking to your next class or driving (though that might prove a safety hazard), you can read while waiting for your bus or train, you can read in the tree that rests near your dorm or house, etc. Basically, disregard what society says and use idle time to your advantage.

Some of the books I'll read soon! Excluding the books I got on my Kindle, like the entire GoT series, Fangirl, etc. Also, gotta love that light between Appetites and Reboot.

Some of the books I’ll read soon! Excluding the books I got on my Kindle, like the entire GoT series, Fangirl, etc. Also, gotta love that light between Appetites and Reboot.

Stop wasting time. I know I said I would avoid advice that pertains to avoiding procrastination and the like, but I’ll share this one because I suffer from it too: get off Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Vine, your crush’s MySpace from 2003, etc. and read a book instead. Why examine what your ex got for Christmas when you could experience the magnificent character development of a Neal Shusterman novel? Why post that narcissistic selfie when you could bask in the glorious and intense plot of the George Martin series we all know and love? In fact, I only have one more tidbit advice before you can stop reading this post and get to reading a novel.

It’s not you. It’s the book. If you find yourself forcing the pages to flip as your eyes glaze over and dreams involving Joseph Gordon-Levitt arise, consider your choice of novel or nonfiction. If a book isn’t capturing your interest, don’t feel bad for pausing or abandoning it and switching to a new one. I tend to always pair my nonfiction and classic reads with a young-adult fiction or fiction novel to keep myself engaged – you can choose from a variety of strategies to make the most of your reading time.

I should start taking my own advice, but Quiz Up is too addicting. I swear it's similar to Candy Crush, just more intellectual. And better.

I should start taking my own advice, but Quiz Up is too addicting. I swear it’s similar to Candy Crush, just more intellectual. And better.

What advice do you have about finding or making time to read more? Do you use any of these strategies or variations of these tips? I hope this post has proven helpful or at least entertaining to read to some extent – now I’m off to continue Game of Thrones. If you’re interested in my brief thoughts UnSouled by Neal Shusterman or To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf you can find them here and here respectively, and I hope everyone has a great start to the New Year!

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34 Comments

Filed under Books, Personal

34 responses to “Find Time to Read? No, Make Time

  1. Clarice

    Nice to see someone who reads through all the stress as well. I especially take the ‘read everywhere’ tip seriously; there was a point my mom searched me for books before we went to a party.

    Anyway, I’m really enjoying reading your blog. :) Happy New Year!

    • Ha ha that’s great – sometimes I read at my family’s annual Thanksgiving get together. Most people are accustomed to it by now.

      Thank you for reading and commenting, and I hope 2014 is fabulous for you!

  2. Ahaha your post me laugh and smile Thomas! Especially the “Stop wasting time” part! I have to admit that these past few days I’ve wasted time, but I kind of have an excuse since I was down with the flu and I just didn’t have any energy to do anything, other than sleep or watch some animes that didn’t require any deep thinking on my part. What I used to do was get up really early in the morning in University and read for about an hour and then get ready to go to classes. I used to read in between classes as well, but then I started to work so that free time kind of went away. As for reading while waiting for a Bus…I think that’s done better indoors and in the Summer outdoors. There’s no way I can hold a book with the cold weather we’ve had so far!
    I think stepping away from the computer to read instead of trying to multitask is also a good thing. I’m not someone who can read so many books at a time since I feel like I don’t give either proper attention. Hopefully I’ll be able to have some distraction free moments in the New Year and just focus on reading.

    Have a Happy New Year!

    • Aw, I hope you feel better now Savindi! I agree that sometimes we need to take a break from mentally strenuous activities to just watch anime/TV or sleep or knit or do something just for fun. Your strategy of awakening early to read sounds good – I get up earlier than most and when I eat breakfast alone it’s always with a book (so never really alone, I suppose).

      Thank you for reading and commenting and I wish you the best for 2014!

      • I’m feeling a lot better now thanks! Although we’re in for a really cold spell. Are you okay in your area? I’ve seen some of the extreme cold weather warnings in the States. I hope you’re not affected by them too much! I get so much more work done in the morning than I do later in the day. That kind of includes reading as well. It could also be that I just really like waking up early lol. I’ve always been like that.

        Best wishes to you as well! I hope you have a wonderful winter semester!

  3. These are great tips, thanks! I especially agree with the ‘make it a habit’ one :) Happy New Year!

  4. I really want to read more in the new year. I think reading more books makes me a better writer. I have been distracted by so many amazing blogs that I tend to catch up on on the way to work. I read the first two GOT books, but then overtook myself with the TV series. I found I enjoyed the show more when I didn’t know what was coming next, so decided to leave the rest.

    Thank you so much for your amazing blog this year. I have really enjoyed reading it.

    Have a great 2014 x

  5. All I have to say is – thank you for the advice! I’m looking forward to making more time for books come 2014, and this is a great place to start (:

    Happy New Year, my dear!

    • You’re welcome Elaine, thank you for still being the best writer I know of that’s my age! Hope you’re finally getting time to recharge after all of your chores, your paper, and your social engagements. I look forward to talking with you in person when we get back to W&M. (:

  6. These are some great tips. And I like your treadmill idea too! I’ll have to combine the two with an audiobook on the treadmill this year :) Listening to audiobooks doubled my reading time in general this year.
    Hope 2014 treats you well Thomas and brings many exciting reading experience your way.
    ps. now I really want to try Quiz Up too.

    • I think the convenience of audiobooks has allowed them to blossom in popularity. If it weren’t for my addiction/craving of pop music, I’d definitely listen to them while on the treadmill – please keep me updated on whether they work out for you!

      Hope you have a fabulous 2014 as well, and if you get a Quiz Up account, my username is Meowbooks9. (:

  7. Great, great post, Thomas! Loved all the tips, there are some I definitely put into action. (Pairing a classic with a YA, for example). I could really relate to #3 though; I waste too much of my time on Instagram, and I could seriously use that time for much more productive stuff… reading for example.

    Hope college is treating you well (seems like it is), and have a Happy New Year!

    -Grace :)

    P.S. I see you got Fangirl on your ebook… I just have to say that it was SUCH A GOOD BOOK.

    • Thank you for reading and commenting Grace! Yeah, a bunch of my friends use Instagram a lot and complain to me about its addictiveness. Hope you have a fabulous 2014!

      PS: Yes, your five-star rating, the quality of Eleanor & Park, and the attention Fangirl has received has motivated me to obtain an electronic copy. I will definitely read it either this month or next book, depending on my schedule.

  8. I’ve never heard of Quiz Up but I’m almost afraid to google it, lol. :-) A lot of these tips (like do a little every day) would work for writing too! Um, I think another thing which keeps me reading is having an audiobook and a paperback on the go at the same time. Happy New Year! And good luck deciding on a reading goal for next year…

    • Yes, perhaps it’s best to stay away from Quiz Up. You’re right that some of the tips can also apply to writing – I guess that further exemplifies how interconnected they are. Happy New Year, and thank you for reading and commenting!

  9. Reboot and Please Understand Me II? I think yes! I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on both of them. Also, I completely agree with you on this post. :D

  10. Love this post! I should really just read everywhere and give up trying to have a life :P I’d rather be reading!

  11. I never thought I’d get into the habit of reading on my phone, but I have and it’s been great to continue reading the kindle books where I left off at home. So now, instead of lugging a book everywhere (which I used to do), I just pull out my phone and read. (It’s a Samsung S3 and the screen is nearly as big as my older kindle.)

    I do still tote a book when I’m reading one with covers.

    Over the holidays I took a big step back from Facebook and Tumblr and found that that increased my spare time by a horribly telling amount. I spent that time reading.

    I read in front of TV and with meals I eat alone. I read before bed every night.

    I agree on tossing books that aren’t reading themselves, so to speak. Reading is supposed to be fun (when you’re not in college. ;) ). If I do really want to read that book, I’ll try to pick it up later, or look for an audio version.

    • As someone who does not own a smart phone it’s great to hear that you can use yours to read – now when I see someone staring at their screen I will not just assume they’re on Instagram or reading a sparse article of some sort. It sounds like you manage to read quite a bit in your free time, and that you’ve solidified strategies to aid you with reading. Thank you for reading and commenting!

  12. I love this post! It’s very funny and I agree with all of your statements. I think one of the biggest time wasters I’ve noticed is apps, because now people turn to them instead when they are waiting for the bus or the train rather than a book. Maybe that makes me sound fuddy duddy. :P

    I hope your 2014 is full of great books. :)

    • No, you shouldn’t feel fuddy duddy – people do spend a lot of time using various apps instead of reading. If only there were more apps that involved reading… perhaps I’ll investigate those.

      I hope your 2014 is also a wonderful reading year and I look forward to reading your reviews/thoughts on a variety of topics! Thanks for reading and commenting.

  13. 77 is such of a lovely number :P

    Haha, you don’t need to remind me to read everywhere, haha. When I was in elementary school, I would hide books on my lap and read them while the teacher taught us. It might have not helped out my performance in class (except for maybe language arts), but I was able to finish two books nearly every day. The only time I would not be able to read a book was when I went to church. And even then I would try to sneak. T_T

    Oh, I have an issue with wasting time, at least when electronics are around.(There is just something about laptops and iPod’s that are oh so alluring.) And when people are around. I’m a chatterbox and will talk someone’s ear off if they would let me. But, when I am able to tear myself away from whatever piece of technology I am obsessing over, or my friends sitting next to me on the bus, I am able to just absorb myself into the novel and can let hours (or bus stops) go by without noticing. So yeah, it’s not the reading part that I have trouble with, it’s the actual stopping myself from wasting time.

    Your username for Quiz Up makes me smile. Is Shakespearean Insult a rank? Is it a good rank? I’m curious.

    • You remind me of a friend I associated with in high school quite often – he would read instead of paying attention in class, even in English! I guess we should all strive for a balance, even in reading. (:

      And, yeah, the internet, electronics, apps, etc. present a considerable challenge in terms of tearing your attention away from them. Maybe you could try implementing a strict time measure, like, I have to read or be productive for 10 minutes for every 5 minutes I spend online? Or something of a similar vein?

      You attain Shakespearean Insult when you reach level 30 in Book Quotes. I rotate between that one and “Twerkaholic,” which you acquire after getting level 20 in Pop. Thank you for reading and commenting!

  14. I have found your blog through Goodreads and I’m really glad I did. You are a beautiful writer and I really enjoy reading whatever you write. I enjoy reading so much, although I don’t read anywhere near as much as you seem to. I can see myself spending a lot of time reading through past-posts on your blog in the hope that one day I can be as insightful and intelligent as you. I particularly liked what you wrote on your Goodreads profile about Ke$ha’s song and fictional boys – too true!

    • Aw, thank you so much for your kind words! I’ll be sure to check out your blog right away, and I suppose it’s not always the quantity that matters when it comes to reading – the quality comes into play as well.

  15. I get exactly the same comments! You touched on this, but my rule is to take a book wherever I go. Often I do not have time to read it, but sure enough, if I don’t have a book, I will end up sitting on a bench waiting and wish I had it. I also work toward reading breaks. I don’t do well reading for short amounts of time, so I get ahead on my homework and give myself a weekend to read an entire book or three.

    • Yep, a book is an accessory that you can carry anywhere! It’s interesting that you prefer longer amounts of time dedicated solely to reading as opposed to short breaks – it was super fun for me to have a break devoted to reading though, so I can see where you’re coming from. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  16. Andreas

    Hey Thomas! I know it’s late, but I just want to wish u a Happy New Year 2014 and have a pleasant year ahead. :) I so miss reading your blog posts as I was pretty much caught up with assignments, projects and stuff. But i just started my second semester and I decided to read some posts that I have missed over the past few months and I absolutely love this freakin’ post! :D I’m definitely going to read my novels and thank you for always being so inspiring. ^^

    • Andreas, I’ve missed hearing from you and it’s great to know that you are well and being productive! Happy New Year and good luck with second semester – I hope to read more of your comments in the future whenever you have time. Thank you for dropping by!

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