― Stephen King
In elementary school, we had reading logs. Every day, we were supposed to write down what we read, how many minutes we read, and how many pages we finished, and at the end of the week, we were supposed to get our parents to sign off on it. They were due every Monday morning. So naturally, most of mine were swiftly constructed on Sundays around 8pm.
I did read a lot, but I never liked keeping track of it. I feel the same way now. I keep track of a lot of things– word counts, outlines, miles– but I still don’t keep track of reading. I do like the idea behind the reading log, though; reading every day is an excellent habit. I still make time to read daily, even though I don’t log it. Here’s how I’ve integrated reading into my daily routines:
1) I listen to audiobooks. Most libraries carry them, so you can get them for free! Audiobooks are great because you can listen to them while commuting to work, running, or grocery shopping. Depending on how much time you spend on those types of things, you can get through several books in a month! Plus, for people who get motion sickness easily, they’re a great alternative to reading books on cars, trains, or planes. I appreciate the dramatic aspect of audiobooks, too; it’s always interesting to hear how a person reads something and think about whether or not you would have read it the same way.
2) I take books everywhere. Most days, you have at least some down time, and when you do, it sucks to have nothing to do. That’s why I always bring a book with me, regardless of how exciting the place I’m going promises to be– because anything could happen. What if your car broke down and you had to wait an hour for a tow truck? Well, that would be just horrible. But it would be even more horrible if you didn’t have a book.
Of course, there are certain known quantities, too– going to the DMV, riding on public transportation, waiting at a doctor’s office. It’s always good to come prepared. If the book I’m reading is too fat to fit in my bag, sometimes I photocopy a few chapters so I don’t have to wait until I get home to read.
3) I schedule reading time. Regardless of whatever else happens in a day, I always read from 5:50-6:20am, while I’m eating breakfast. It’s a much longer breakfast than most people would take, but I like having the extra time to read. It always gets my day off to a good start.
4) I am patient. I’m a slow reader, and it usually takes me longer to finish books than other people. Sometimes, I stop to go back and reread parts. Other times, I backtrack to take notes on parts that I meant to take notes on the first time around, but didn’t. I’m starting to embrace the whole “being a slow reader” thing, though, because I find it more satisfying to read books in that long, drawn-out way. If I sped through them, I don’t think I would enjoy them as much or get as much out of them. Of course, there are many people who feel the exact opposite. So here’s my advice: find out how you like to read books. Then do that.
Besides providing entertainment and helping me become a better writer, reading every day also makes me a much calmer, happier person. That’s why I try even harder to keep reading every day during busy or stressful times; it provides a special brand of escape from the real world that can’t be found in other places. When do you make time to read?