Psychologist Eda LeShan said that middle-age occurs when you realize that you won’t live long enough to read all the books you want to read. According to LeShan’s definition, some of us were born middle-aged.
Finding the time to read isn’t just a problem of our busy, modern world. Back in the 14th Century, Italian poet Francesco Petrarca faced the same dilemma and solved his conflict this way: “Whether I am being shaved, or having my hair cut, whether I am riding on horseback or taking my meals, I either read myself or get someone to read to me.”
Doubling up on activities is, of course, one way of squeezing in more reading time. Here are several other tips gleaned from voracious readers.
° Carry a book with you at all times. Paperbacks are wonderfully portable and make it easy to tuck a favorite into your purse or briefcase and use those unexpected free moments while your waiting to read a chapter or two. iPads and Kindle are other popular mobile companions.
Some readers finish a number of books every year in those odd moments waiting for the dentist or lunch companion.
° Eliminate something else that takes your time. What habitual time-users fill your days? Mind-numbing reality shows? Adjusting your schedule ever so slightly could open up reading space. Take a look.
° Listen to audiobooks. Authors and actors narrate both fiction and nonfiction titles—and the list of titles keeps growing. I’ve finished several books just running errands around town.
I find them indispensable for longer road trips. Audiobooks are also great when housework is being done.
° Travel by public transportation. If it’s possible to take a bus or train, rather than drive yourself, you can get lots of reading done in transit. The London Tube is full of readers, as are other subways, buses and trains.
° Wear your iPod. Just don’t turn it on. If your reading time takes place in a noisy lunchroom or airplane, don a headset or earbuds. It will block outside noises and deter others from chatting with you when you’d rather be reading.
° Don’t finish books that you don’t enjoy. Sounds obvious to me, but many folks think there’s something wrong with stopping midway through a book. Nonsense. Get on to another that brings more pleasure.
° Learn to skim. Time expert Alan Lakein suggests, “When you pick up a book, start by reading the headlines in the book jacket. Then glance through the book quickly, looking for something of interest to you…Your job in reading a book is to find the key ideas and understand their application to your situation.”
That only works for nonfiction, of course.
° Have a regular reading time daily. Even reading for 15 minutes every day will yield big results over time. Tune into your own special body clock and discover the times when you feel less energetic, less creative. Take advantage of these lower energy times to schedule your reading. For many people, bedtime is still their favorite time to enjoy a good book.
° Make reading a high priority. Books should feed your imagination as well as provide information. Be eclectic in your reading and clear about why it matters to you. Even in this high tech world, booklovers continue to delight at the smell and feel of a book in their hands telling a story that transports.
Devoted readers smile in agreement at Anna Quindlen’s observation: “I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people whose idea of decorating is to add more bookshelves.”