Psychologist Eda LaShan says 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, however. 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 some other ideas from voracious readers.
Carry a Good Book
Having a book with you at all times is a good idea. Paperbacks have made it easy to tuck a current favorite into your purse or briefcase and use unexpected free moments to read a chapter or two. Electronic book readers are increasingly popular portable reading devices.
Some readers finish a number of books every year in those odd moments waiting for the dentist or a lunch companion. Accessibility is the key.
Eliminate Something Else
What habitual time-users fill your days? Cutting out just one television program or adjusting your schedule ever so slightly could open up reading time.
Take a look and you might surprise yourself.
Listen to Audio Books
Authors and actors narrate both fiction and nonfiction titles. These are great for listening during drive time, while doing housework or walking with your iPod.
Audible.com is a popular source with over 85,000 titles available for download.
Travel by Public Transportation
My idea of paradise is a long train trip with a stack of books. If it’s possible to take a bus or subway, rather than drive yourself, you can get lots of reading done.
Just don’t turn them on. If your reading time takes place in a noisy restaurant or airplane, don a headset. It will block some outside noises and deter others from chatting with you—if you’d rather read.
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.
And be discriminating. I’m amazed at the number of people I see on airplanes reading books that were hastily purchased at an airport shop. I always travel with a book that I’ve started and know will be a delightful companion on my flights.
Learn To Skim
Time expert Alan Lakein suggests, “When you pick up a book, start by reading the headlines on 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. The preface and table of contents, as well as summaries that are sometimes found at the beginning and end of a book, will help you do this quickly.”
Skimming isn’t a substitute for reading an entire book, of course, but it’s a way to reinforce the most valuable ideas that you want to remember.
Have A Daily Reading Time
Tune into your own speical body clock and discover the times when you feel less energetic, less creative. Take advantage of these times to schedule your reading.
Even reading for 15 minutes every day will yield big results over time. The critical thing is to make it a part of every day, like brushing your teeth.
It’s still true that the person who can read and doesn’t has no advantage over the person who can’t read.
Philosopher Jim Rohn points out that by reading two books every week, you’ll have acquired the knowledge of over one thousand books in the next ten years.
“Do you think,” he asks, ”that acquiring the knowledge inside a thousand books will influence the many dimensions of your life? Missing skills, missing knowledge, missing insight, missing values, missing lifestyle are all a result of not reading books. Remember, the book unread is the one that can’t help you. You can’t read too many books, but you can read too few.”