“How to Read More” is a popular topic. There are myriad articles and blog posts on the subject, all geared towards helping non-readers find time to fit reading into their schedules or even towards helping avid readers increase their already impressive book consumption. I’m sure the advice is useful to many people, but personally I’ve never found that there’s a “secret” to finding time to read. Any time I spend reading is simply time I’m not spending doing something else.
One of the number one tips to help people read more is to listen to listen to audiobooks and multitask. You’re supposed to read while you vacuum or do the dishes or drive to work. Personally, however, I am terrible at this. I cannot do chores and listen to a book because I start focusing on my task and miss part of the story. When I used to be able to walk to work, I tried listening to audiobooks during my commute–but I had the same problem. If I had to pay attention to cross a street safely or get around construction or watch for bicycles coming at me, I stopped listening to the story. And any noise, as simple as a car driving by, meant I couldn’t even hear the audiobook without turning the volume high enough to blast my eardrums. I stopped listening to audiobooks while walking.
And, for what it’s worth, polls have suggested that a majority of readers prefer to listen to their audiobooks while doing nothing else. I am not alone in this.
Other tips on “finding time to read,” then, amount to “sneaking reading into your schedule.” If you take a bus or a train, you can read on your commute. If you use a treadmill at the gym, you can read while running. You can just make time to read right before bed or right when you wake up or while waiting in line at the bank. These aren’t bad suggestions, but for me they come down to “choose to read.” If I choose to read on a bus, I am also choosing not to nap or to write a poem or to knit a scarf or to do anything else I might do on a bus. If I make time to read before bed, I am also choosing not to watch a movie or bake cookies or call my mother. If someone isn’t reading much or at all, brainstorming times they could begin to read is useful–but I just don’t think this is a secret. People who read a lot manage to do so because it’s one of their primary hobbies. (Though external circumstances like not working long hours, not having caretaking responsibilities, etc. can contribute to having free time, of course.)
I have seen tips that are more about creating the right atmosphere and mindset for reading–like having books readily available on your nightstand or finding books you are passionate about or joining a book club. So I think there are open questions about how to find motivation to read or to read more, but if the question is “how to find time to read,” I don’t know that there’s a magic solution. All of our time is finite, of course. Finding time to read might just mean giving up time doing something else.