Between the Covers: Stories from My Bookcase

Monday, March 23, 2015

Where do you find the time to read?

If it isn't obvious yet, I am a reader. :) Even at my busiest time, there is always space for books. However, this is not to say that I have read every book I own, or every book I wanted to read. 

And I know that there are many of you out there, who are just like me who often say: 

So many good books. So little time.

And when people are new to the fact that I read a lot, this question is sure to be asked:

Where do you find time to read?

Some just flat out declare: 

I'd love to read, but I just don't have the time.

Here's the truth. I don't often have the time either. In fact, I didn't get to read much last year. 

Was I busy? Stressed at work? Preparing for a big life event?

No. Not really. And, Yes. 

My days were full, so I guess I was busy in a way, but it doesn't feel like I was too busy I couldn't pick up a paperback. In fact, I picked up a new game - FarmVille 2 on the iPhone. I also spent lots of time with my Loom Bands. 

There were days when work was stressful, but it's a far cry from three or so years ago when I was spending long hours at work. Last year was actually the first time things got lite. So no, I can't blame work for not having had time to read. 

Yes, I got married last year!
 But no, the wedding preparations didn't make me too busy that there was no time for an ebook or no space for a book in my bag. 

Fact is, I tried to read more and just couldn't.  There is no other way for me to explain this. Many times I'd pick up a book and I'd read a few lines, a few pages, but I get nothing. No reaction. Nothing clicks. So I put it down and try again another day. Or I try another book. And so on. 

It was frustrating, but it taught me something: You have to be ready to read. It's not enough to just want to read. For me, it wasn't about not having time to read. It was as if there was a barrier to reading. 

So what is one to do?

MAKE time to READ

Does it sound like I'm contradicting myself? This is for those of you who feel that the barrier to reading is time. Schedule reading into your daily activities. It could be 15 to 30 minutes after each meal. Or it could also be part of your night-time routine when you wind down for bed. Get in 5 pages before breakfast. Pick a schedule and stick to it. 

For those really, really busy with WORK, errands, and house chores, this means always toting a book along with you so you can use the pockets of time when you do nothing but wait
  1. Read a few pages at the waiting area at your doctor's appointment, or anywhere you need to wait in line. 
  2. Scan a few lines while your food cooks
  3. A chapter or two during your commute to and from work 
  4. Read while the little one watches Hi-5 or is busy building a tower, or setting up a road rally. 
  5. While the husband is out shopping, I read in the car, or at a cafe. He doesn't need fashion advise from me (be sure to regulate the cash he has on hand!)
If you find yourself mindlessly clicking thru online articles, one after the other, evaluate whether you'd rather finish your book instead. You have time.

Don't force it 

If it doesn't spark your interest after a few pages. Let it go. It doesn't mean it's a bad book, or that you don't have to ever read it again, it just means that now's not the time for you to read it. 

That's how it was when I read Wicked, which turned out to be one of my favorites. Same thing with Revolutionary Road. And again last month while reading Love Walked In

So if you and your book don't click, just move on to the next one. Don't force it. That's why it's also important to -

Have more than one book accessible to you

If it's still reading time when you realize that book 1 isn't your thing, pick up another book. Or open your reading app and start actually reading one of your ebooks. 

If you are a true bookworm, even if you're more of the old-school reader like me who prefers the touch of the page and the smell of books old and new, you already have a growing digital book collection. Now's the time to open that Kindle app and get reading. 

Setup your reading space

I read while sitting upright, but I can be just as comfortable lying down. Find your own spot where there isn't a lot of distraction. 

While vacationing for the first time with my husband's family last year, my spot turned out to be a lounge chair at the second-floor balcony. At home, I can sit anywhere. I also find that I really like reading at the driver's seat - while parked of course. 

Challenge yourself

Goodreads has really helped jump-start my reading year 2015. In January, I decided to read along with the monthly book discussions with The Filipino Group. We are reading High Fidelity all through April.  

I also set a goal of reading 15 books this year as my 2015 Reading Challenge. Since I didn't read much last year, I figured 15 is achievable. I hope to read more though. You can check the widget on my sidebar to know how I'm keeping up. :)

So I hope I've helped convince you that you can read more, NOW. Do you have other tips to cultivate a reading lifestyle?

Friday, March 13, 2015

Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman

Have you ever heard of a Traveling Book? I am a member of The Filipino Group on Goodreads and we currently have three of them.  Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman is the 3rd traveling book, but the first one I've been fortunate to receive and read. 

It took me five days to finish the 162-page book, but I probably would have finished sooner if I really wanted to. This is a collection of essays and each one, to me, was relatable. So relate-able that I was compelled to write a response to the essay, or to the marginalia from previous readers.

As you will see in this photo, readers before me have enriched the book with their comments. I followed suit and enjoyed the exercise. Truly enjoyed it.

Ex Libris is a book about books and reflect much of how I feel about reading, and about my books. As for my own confession, there was a time that I was wont to be jealous or envious of the kind of books in Ms. Fadiman's library. I am not as acquainted to the classics as I would like to be, and much of the authors and great writers she mentioned I have never read. Does that mean she is a better book lover than me? Is she a better reader? 

I quickly corrected myself. As much as there are body image issues, it occurred to me that there may be, among book lovers, a book collection image issue. No matter what trash one might find in my library of books, if I choose to keep it in my library, then it means that in one way or another, that book struck a chord in me. So perhaps I should also rethink about my tendency to look at another's collection of books only to turn up my nose at all the Tagalog romance novels I see there. Just because I don't read those books means they are not good ones. 

Our home is overflowing with books. One thing that needs to be done is to curate our growing library. In the book, Fadiman wrote about the marriage of her library to her husband's. In my case, it won't be a difficult marriage. Alfred, my husband, is not as much a reader as I am. Still he has gathered a small collection of photography books and magazines, along with some graphic novels and short stories by Filipino writers. My parents are readers, but they have long learned to part with books they've already read. Perhaps it's all the moving we've done thru the years.

Already on my wish-list of home improvements is to curate our book collection. 

  1. List all the titles in every nook and cranny of our two-storey home. 
  2. Categorize between keepers and non-keepers. 
  3. Find the proper home for the keepers in the limited shelving available. 
  4. As for the non-keepers, that is yet another project to undertake. List them for friends to freely choose from; sell them for a bit of profit; or leave them on the sidewalk; or build  a little free library and put them on display. Non-keepers don't mean bad books, they're just not going to be part of our collection because we have to admit that we can't hold on to every book and magazine we buy. 
Anyway. How's your library?