Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Prioritizing Reading

I quickly get annoyed with those people--students, acquaintances...ahem...relatives--who say, "Oh, I don't read. I just don't have time for things like that." All that basically means is that they don't like to read, and it's not a priority.

For those of us who love to read, yearn to read, long to read, books can still be hard to prioritize into our lives sometimes. Right now is one of those times for me. I've mentioned the back-to-school fervor at my job, there's the addition of the home business (D'Aprix Creative) which runs out of our home, all the errands that go along with it, teenagers heading back to school soon and the ensuing quality time to soak up every last bit of summer, and let's face it, there's an infant in the house.

For the first time in the last several months, I'm really feeling the crush of obligation in everyday life, and it's certainly taking a toll on my reading. I used to carve out an hour or more of reading time each night before bed because I didn't go in to work until 11 or 12:00 every day. I could safely go to bed at 11:00pm and be rested the next day. Now that I'm up at 5:30 and teaching by 7:15, I have to hit the sack somewhere between 9:00 and 10:00 to keep my sanity.

This leaves me feeling homeless in the reading department. My routine has shifted dramatically, and I'm not sure where reading fits right now. My best options are to read during lunchtime at work and any accompanying downtime at school. Beginning-of-term is especially busy, as I'm sure you can imagine, so it'll settle down, but I'm cranky in the meantime. I have the whole of Friday off, but I'm usually playing with Greyson or trying to spend more time with the family. Keep in mind, I'm not looking for sympathy. This happens periodically. Reading slumps are cyclical, whether we like it or not.

So how do you prioritize your reading? Especially when things are busy or turbulent. Is there some fallback hobby that takes the place of your reading when you're brain-fried?

37 comments:

  1. I totally understand! I truly believe that people who say 'I don't have time...' don't like it either! But yeah, I'm a big bed time reader too and sometimes I am just too sleepy to read. I squeeze it in, be it on the subway, in my lunch break, or any other random 15 minute spurts then!

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  2. I think sometimes we really DON'T have time to read. It happens. We, as readers, should never get down on anyone else for that. I mean, we all know we love reading, right? But sometimes jobs or family stuff or other obligations get in the way. I doubt, for instance, that I will read much if I have to end up moving across the country soon, not until things settle, anyway. If I get a job, things will definitely shift. Whenever I start working on a new novel that takes up much of my time, that is my priority and reading goes on the back burner. I love reading, but it's not the ONLY thing in my life. Sometimes other things take priority.

    I don't like it when people say they don't have time to read when what they're really saying is they'd rather do anything else. To me, that's when you might as well say "I don't really like to read." Okay. That's fine. Not everyone is a reader. You know?

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  3. Amanda has a great point. I make the choice to read rather than do something else. My husband loves to read but sometimes chooses to play video games or watch television instead. I'm sure that someone else with my schedule who doesn't have the passion for reading that I do, wouldn't devote nearly as much time to it.

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  4. This is going to sound frustrating, but I think at times we just don't have time to read and coming to terms with that instead of fervetly trying to get some reading done might actually leave more time to read and enjoy it then staying up an extra hour or something to try and read. Reading should never become an obligation, in my opinion.

    But I do understand that it is hard at times. In busy months at university I have trouble reading more than a book a week and sometimes any at all. Having a bookblog makes it harder to not feel you should try harder. I haven't yet figured out what to do..

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  5. Oh boy -- I think we can all relate, and I'm sending you good vibes! :)

    For me, I was constantly reading when I was single... but since I met Spencer, he's occuped most of my time (in a good way!). I'm so happy and love being with him, of course, but I miss the hours I would spend lost in a good book. Now, I'm lucky if I get home before 11 p.m. (or say goodbye to him around that time), giving me about 20 minutes to read before my eyes forcibly shut.

    When the weather gets cooler, too, I'm going to start my scarf-making business back up on Etsy... and last fall, I was so busy with custom orders (YAY!) that I was crocheting almost every night. Again: so little time to read.

    As with all things in life, it's about striking a balance... as you said, you'll totally get there, and the rest of us will, too! Since we're such avid readers (and don't feel right without a good book), we make reading a priority in our lives. Anyone who says they "just don't have time" for something just... doesn't care about it. And that's fine, to each his/her own, but don't make me feel weird about fitting into my cluttered schedule! It's important.

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  6. I've been reading a lot less these last couple of months. The nice weather won't last and we have to take advantage of it. I know I'll be reading again soon.

    For now, when I don't feel like opening a book, I've been listening to audiobooks and crocheting or doing my housework.

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  7. Oh my goodness - I'm right there with you. I'm an adjunct and will likely teach 7 classes in the fall, 5 of which will be comp I. My reading life will come to a screeching halt.

    I just catch it when I can. I always have a book with me. I read during tests. Or breaks. I have taught all summer, and though my hours have been less strenuous, they are still time consuming.

    There are times when I honestly don't have time to read. And I don't feel guilty about it. Because then, I'll reread the same thing over and over again,and that's not helpful. The nice thing is that, as an instructor, I create my syllabi, so my reading within the semester is built in. Even though most of it I've read several times, I love seeing my students' perspectives.

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  8. When I'm especially busy, I listen to audiobooks. I can listen in the car, while fixing supper, watering the garden, etc, etc.

    But like Amanda said, sometimes there really ISN'T time to read. Don't beat yourself up about it, just enjoy the family, etc, and know that they books are waiting, maybe not patiently, but they are there. You know how these things go, so don't get frustrated, it only makes it worse.

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  9. I had a conversation with my boss about this Saturday night. I mentioned I had only 12 pages left in a book but I had to come to work. She looked at me and said she hasn't read a book since her oldest was one (he's 11 now). It made me sad, but she seemed resigned to the fact. As I'm the only non-smoker on staff, I'm increasingly tempted to take reading breaks instead of smoke breaks. How great would five minutes of reading be mid-shift?

    I had a bad reading week this week. There were several days I didn't read at all, and I managed to finish only one book. I love to read, but I usually can't read when I get home from a long shift at the restaurant. I love to veg out with a little tv when I'm tired, but if I go a day without reading, I start to twitch for it. The truth is, I rarely read as much as I would like to, but when opportunities arise to spend time with my husband (amidst our very disparate school/work schedules) or friends, I rarely turn them down for a book (although I am often tempted.)

    Truthfully, when I say I don't have time to read or didn't have a good reading week, it usually means I only read one book, which would be great for most people. I try to be mindful of my time and spend most of it doing what I enjoy, be it independent films, reading or good tv (with a little bad thrown in too!)

    I think the biggest challenge for me will be parenthood. I don't read well when I'm tired. In my mind, you have the best excuse for not having time to read, but I also believe you'll find ways to carve out the time for something you love so much.

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  10. I too love to read, and usually do it at the expense of something else (like housework!). I try to read for a few minutes every night before I go to sleep, but sometimes can't stay awake long enough to do it.

    I've been reading my entire life. I can't remember how old I was when my mum realised I was actually reading, not just remembering the stories in my little books. So when I stopped reading a few years ago, my husband became concerned that I was depressed. I think he was right -- when some of the more troublesome aspects of my life got sorted, I went back to reading regularly (or irregularly, depending on my schedule).

    So for me, reading (or not reading) has become a barometer of how both how busy and how depressed or stressed I am. Lately, I'm happy to say, I've been reading up a storm!

    Canadian Chickadee

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  11. Amused, some of our fellow bloggers have pointed out that some people really don't have time to read (ourselves included), and I do agree with that. However, I often find that people I come into contact with who say they don't have time to read really don't like it. Haven't even tried it since high school or college. Sadly, the bulk of these people were people I worked with in a LIBRARY! Ack! Scary, eh?

    Amanda, I agree. In addition to work and stuff, I'm also planning some online classes which will roll out soon. When it comes time to work vs. read, I'll always choose work because I have to. But it's still frustrating when that nearly-tangible itch kicks in and I can't read or don't have time or am just too brain fried to do it!

    True, Teresa. Lately I find myself choosing to read blogs than actually read my books (which leaves me in something of a bind when it comes time to post!). I sit and wonder "Why aren't I using this time to read," but the honest truth is that I may just not have the mental capacity among fatigue and other factors, to do it!

    Iris, I agree. Trying to maintain a book blog probably adds a pretty good layer of pressure. I don't want to let my readers down, I enjoy blogging and reading, and it's just darn frustrating when my adult responsibilities get in the way of leisure! lol

    Meg, great points, and I think that's the hardest part. I feel like I'm missing an arm if I'm not engrossed in a book. Ya know? It feels like something tangible is missing if I'm not reading steadily.

    Chris, I probably don't take advantage of audiobooks like I could. I could listen to those around the house, but then again, these days I wonder if I have the focus to sustain audiobook listening. When I had a long commute it was easy, but I have lots of people talking to me at home nowadays. :) Which is great, but not conducive to audiobooking it.

    Amen, Picky (sorry, I don't know your real name and didn't see it on your blog)! I feel for you teaching 7 classes. I teach 5 in-person and will be teaching several online in the Fall, so I'm right there with you. Luckily, they are courses I've taught multiple times before and the planning and prep is not as intensive as it would be otherwise. I'm also doing some different things with my classes this time around, so the reading is changed up a bit.

    True dat, Heather. I think the hardest part is just feeling incomplete moreso than frustrated. I feel like I'm missing a limb without a book attached to me.

    Nomad, I sort of do that! Take book breaks that is. My work is very flexible. I teach 24 hours a week, put in 40 total, and there is some free time during the day when I'm caught up on grading and short on the need for preparation. I'm lucky that way, and I wish everyone has the luxury! Problem is, lately I'm too darn flustered or tired or lacking focus to read during that downtime.

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  12. Canadian Chickadee, I can completely relate to that!!! I've dealt with depression on and off my entire life, and I think reading is a barometer for me as well. Lately there's been a bit of postpartum depression going on, and I've taken steps for treatment, but it's not completely cleared up. Bundled with the hectic schedule and whatnot, it's getting in the way. Thanks for sharing your experience!

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  13. Boy, I can sure relate. Life is just sometimes too busy to read and that is the truth! I fit reading in whenever and wherever I can but I never get enough reading time! My best advice is to take it one day at a time and steal those moments when you can. Luckily life never stays this crazy forever!

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  14. I can say with some relief that I've never been so busy that I genuinely didn't have time to read. There have been busier times, but I think the year I read the least was when I'd started college, got a new boyfriend, and set about making friends - I had different priorities. Right now I do have a job and I often do most of the housework as hubs has a more time consuming job, but reading is my hobby. If I have free time, I'm generally reading.

    I do get annoyed when people sigh and tell me they wish they had time to read, then go off and do xyz other hobby in their free time. You don't have to say you wish you could read - and make me feel like I have nothing better to do! - if you really don't wish that at all.

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  15. I don't think not having time means it isn't a priority, unless you haven't had time in years and it doesn't even bother you. I have been squeezing in a bit of time here and there the last week or so, but this summer has been so crazy that I could honestly say that. Or I bail on something I should be doing instead, like dishes or laundry or cleaning. I suspect with 3 little kids (soon!) that I'll have even LESS time to read, but eventually it'll pick up again I'm sure.

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  16. My e-reader has pretty much enabled me to keep reading even though life is a bit busier. I can manage it one-handed while I feed Charlie, so that's when I get a majority of my reading done. I also try to read a 1/2 hour before bed, but that falls by the wayside sometimes. My reading time diminishes drastically in the spring & fall semesters, though when all of my time is spent prepping and grading. I can't wait to see how I manage a baby with all of that to do!

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  17. This is really a great topic! i get tired of hearing from people that they don't have time to read. Our school librarian said that (can you imagine??)

    Most of the time it's about priorities. Am I going to choose to watch television or read? Am I going to go out drinking with my friends or read? Am I going to (insert whatever else possible) or read?

    And when I don't feel as though I have a choice I know it's because I'm super duper busy.

    Also, I think it's important that most of us, even if we're not necessarily reading books daily we're READING. Heh, even if it's our blogroll!

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  18. When I am really pressed and have little time to read, I take a book with me into the bathroom. Really I do!! even if it is just for a few minutes, it is a welcome respite and I can get a few pages in. Sometimes though, I have been known to disappear for quite a while, but the family is on to me and knows where to find me.

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  19. I read every night. If I am feeling a little burnt out, then I won't read long--I will watch TV or clean instead but, regardless, I read at least 10-20 minutes a day at the very least.

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  20. Sometimes we really don't have time for reading, though I seem to usually manage to find some. Not every day though, and some days only a few pages. If I'm not reading I'm either working, with friends, eating, or sleeping, no other hobbies to take up my time! (heh, oh yeah, except blogging!!)

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  21. Well, I'm past that phase of my life, but I remember those days when I had to snatch reading time whenever I could.

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  22. I'm with you Andi..it bugs me when people say "I don't have the time to read." Sure you do...before you go to bed, when you're in the bath, instead of watching tv, etc. Though I admit that there are certainly nights when I don't read at all and I just crash. I try to always make time for reading though..it's my one little bit of sanity :)

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  23. About the only time I didn't really read much was when I was in college. Well, didn't do reading for fun. I was swamped with textbook reading that I couldn't fit in my books. For the most part I've always found time to read. Granted sometimes it's less and I don't like that but as long as I get a few pages here and there then that makes me happy. Hope you'll be able to steal some more minutes for reading Andi!

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  24. I struggle to fall asleep if I don't read a little while first, so that's when I do a lot of my reading during busy times. I read at meals as well, if I'm eating by myself, or at my parents' or sisters' places. I read while cleaning my teeth or taking out the trash--anything I can do with one hand, pretty much I can do it while reading. I read while walking from room to room in my apartment, too. I consider a place home if I can navigate around it while reading and not bash into doorframes or furniture. :p

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  25. I recall having a hard time getting any quality reading done in the days when I was a young mother. I read plenty of Little Golden Books, Richard Scarry, Berenstain Bears, Beatrix Potter, and A.A. Milne, but little else!

    Reading is kind of my drug of choice, so when I don't get my daily fix, I get cranky. I've managed to identify the two critical reading times (when I first get up in the morning, and just before going to sleep), so as long as I can grab a few minutes on each end of the day, I can make it!

    This too will pass...

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  26. It is hard to read--and read well, as you do--with an infant in the house. Never mind teenagers. Never mind while also holding down a demanding (yet fun) job.
    There was a time when The Runaway Bunny, Maurice Sendak, and Dr. Seuss formed the bulk of my 'reading'. I miss those days--squeezed some real poetry in so that mommy wouldn't go bonkers...
    Now I read on my lunch break, if possible. And always at bedtime. I've always been a night reader. It's genetic. Be careful ;)
    You'll find your groove. Don't worry.

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  27. Kathleen, thank goodness life never stays crazy forever. I'd be sunk!

    Meghan, thank you! That's exactly what I'm talking about. People who say they don't have time to read when they really choose to do other things. I legitimately try to make time to read, and then there are times I'd rather watch TV or play SIMS, but some people just *say* they don't have time but really have no interest.

    Lisa, those are the people I was talking about in that first paragraph. I run into that a lot, and it actually makes me wonder why people want to present themselves as potential readers if they really haven't done it for years and don't really want to!

    Pilgrim Soul, I hear ya. The e-reader is wonderful for one-handed reading. I try to grab snatches of time while Greyson is sleeping or playing happily in his play yard.

    Good point, Christina. I think most readers are always reading, even if it's not a book. I read news, blogs, essays, material I'm teaching. I guess I shouldn't feel so lonely without a book!

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  28. Kathleen, thank goodness life never stays crazy forever. I'd be sunk!

    Meghan, thank you! That's exactly what I'm talking about. People who say they don't have time to read when they really choose to do other things. I legitimately try to make time to read, and then there are times I'd rather watch TV or play SIMS, but some people just *say* they don't have time but really have no interest.

    Lisa, those are the people I was talking about in that first paragraph. I run into that a lot, and it actually makes me wonder why people want to present themselves as potential readers if they really haven't done it for years and don't really want to!

    Pilgrim Soul, I hear ya. The e-reader is wonderful for one-handed reading. I try to grab snatches of time while Greyson is sleeping or playing happily in his play yard.

    Good point, Christina. I think most readers are always reading, even if it's not a book. I read news, blogs, essays, material I'm teaching. I guess I shouldn't feel so lonely without a book!

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  29. Elisabeth, I used to do this all the time! It's fallen by the wayside recently, but I got some good bits read that way!

    Stephanie, me too, though lately that's not quenching my thirst for reading. Blarg!

    LOL, Amy! And blogging takes a big chunk, for me anyway!

    I hear ya, Chris. I've been having far more of those "crash" nights.

    Thanks, Iliana! And I think part of my problem, coming off a GREAT read like The Passage that I gobbled down in no time is that this lack of time has kicked in, and I want that rush of reading satisfaction again!

    Jenny, from the sounds of it, you're far more coordinated than I am. If I brushed my teeth while reading or took out the trash, the book and I would both suffer some injuries! :) I do try to squeeze in reading while eating and stuff, though.

    Becca, drug of choice is a perfect way to put it. Morning and evening were my go-to times until my schedule changed this term. Now if I can just find the best opportunities, I'll be good to go.

    Thanks, DS. It's tough, but I'm sure I'll find my groove. I'm just itchy and cranky in the meantime. ;)

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  30. Dare I say, welcome to motherhood. Generally my life is filled with teaching (as an adjunct) and raising two boys (now 7 and 2). Gone are the days when I had what now seems like the endless energy to do whatever I wanted to do.

    Being a mother doesn't seem to only sap one of their physical energy, but emotional and intellectual as well. It's a BIG job. I am finally starting to "miss" reading. I think more than a year had gone by in which I actually finished a book. I read magazines, blogs, newspapers. I felt GUILTY. Though I am not sure why. It's not like I owed it to anyone to read.

    For me, the time to read is an absolute luxury. I go to reading blogs and see so many "reviews." Books that people are reading because publishers want them promoted. Eww. I am so backed up on my reading. Crap, there are books eight years old that are still are my to-be-read list. I don't have time for "assigned" books.

    I came across your blog and liked what I saw because I saw discussion about reading and not simply review after review after review. I like to read about books, but also the reading process, life, etc. That's just my opinion though!!! I seriously don't have time to read every day. Currently, my husband is deployed in Afghanistan. I have a house, two little boys and I refuse to feel obligated to do anything but have the best days we can have. Good luck!

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  31. Oh boy Andi, I'm still there and my little man is almost 3. I still find it hard to get my reading in. However I do sneak at least 5-10 pages in before I fall asleep in bed. Even if it's 11pm I try. I also listen to a lot of audiobooks. I get them from the library and listen in the car to and from work (except when the language starts to make me cringe because my little man is in the car lol) and at work. It's a great companion to some boring spreadsheets =)

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  32. I can see both sides of this issue - people really not having time to read more than one or two pages before they drop down from exhaustion, AND people using the no time excuse because they are culturally conditioned not to want to admit they don't enjoy reading. And of course, they imply those of us who read constantly have no lives along the way :P

    These days my salvation is my lunch break and the half hour before I fall asleep. I don't know how much reading I'd be getting done if not for that time.

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  33. Trina, thanks for coming by and for commenting. You certainly have your hands full with your children and your husband deployed. I am lucky to have a good support system since my husband works from home and keeps our newborn, and we have a 14 and 12 year old who help out tremendously. I enjoy blogs that work in a discussion of reading in addition to reviews. I simply don't read fast enough to have a review to post every day--and probably not even every week! I wish I read faster and had more free time these days, but the tradeoffs are worth it. I adore spending time with my family.

    Thanks again for stopping in!

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  34. I've had that same conversation so many times in my life, and replied in similar ways. Even if all the other times I try to read get wiped out by a busy schedule, I've always made at least 10 minutes to read before going to bed. In the past two months I was having trouble even with that measly 10 minutes, but getting reading glasses solved the problem!

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  35. Andi, I totally feel your pain. I get really, really cranky too whenever I'm too busy, stressed or exhausted to read. I always manage to ride the storm out, but I never do it without a tantrum or two. When I'm totally brain-fried I tend to collapse on the couch, watch re-runs of my favorite shows and crochet.

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  36. I also work full time (probably 50 hours a week) and have little time to read. I listen to books/podcasts/music while running (and cleaning the house) and read mostly on the weekends.

    I try to read a chapter a day during the week but this doesn't always happen.

    Remember it's not how much you read, it's the enjoyment of reading!

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