I Don’t Have the Secret to Reading More–Unless It’s Doing Other Things Less

I Don't Have the Secret to Finding More Time to Read

“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.

Briana

25 thoughts on “I Don’t Have the Secret to Reading More–Unless It’s Doing Other Things Less

  1. Kim @ Traveling in Books says:

    Yup. Not doing other things like watching television is a big part of how I read a lot every year. I’m fine with listening to audiobooks while doing other things, but mostly my reading quantity comes from the fact that it’s a primary hobby, and when it comes down to me deciding how to spend my time, I generally prefer to read rather than do anything else.

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I’m so glad to see so many people agreeing with me! Seeing all these “how to read more” articles was making me go a bit crazy. I just…read, when I have time, because I like to! But the amount I read definitely explains, for instance, why I’ve seen so few movies and television shows! I don’t have time to do EVERYTHING!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. kat says:

    I agree completely. Sneaking it in doesn’t feel satisfactory and choosing to read instead of doing something else makes a lot more sense. Personally, since I’m not big on staring at screens and don’t have a smart phone, I find I read a whole lot more when I decide it isn’t worth it to check my email for the tenth time in a half hour. I see so many people mindlessly scrolling and just think that, if they really want to read more, swapping the scrolling for a book would probably do the trick.

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I didn’t have a smartphone until very recently, and I agree with you. Looking at Twitter 10 times an hour or checking my email obsessively (when I KNOW basically no one is going to have emailed me anything) doesn’t seem like a great use of my time. And I’ve thought the same thing when I’ve been on public transportation. If you LIKE just randomly scrolling through Instagram for 20 minutes, that’s cool, but I think some people would probably be more entertained reading a book or watching a show or something.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. dinipandareads says:

    I’m in total agreement. I really wish that I could listen to an audiobook while doing a million other things but like you said, I lose my focus and then I spend more time rewinding to when I last remember actively listening, than actually making progress through the book 😂 But outside of working full time and blogging, I spend as much of my “free” time reading, and that also means not doing any of the other stuff like watching tv, gaming, social media, etc. It’s easy to get caught up in those things and that does happen sometimes, but I know when I want to read, I will make the time! Great post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      Yes, someone who feels the same way about audiobooks! I just can’t think of anything I do that’s “mindless” that allows me to listen to books while I do it. People always say washing dishes or vacuuming, but I have to think about whether the dish is clean enough or where I’m going to vacuum next or whatever! I’m not actually “not thinking” about chores!

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  4. Books Teacup and Reviews says:

    I agree with you. I have seen many tips and not all works for everyone and definitely not in same way. I tried that one popular tip carry book with you read whenever you can even with 5 min break. Honestly, it doesn’t work! How much one can red in 5 mins? and then I have to put aside the book after that 5 min, either in middle of page or worst in middle of sentence. It’s really frustrating when I’m getting a grip and have to put the book aside and even worst starting the book from where I have left last time and again it take time getting into the book. I have figured quiet early, it’s better to read book at my own time when I actually have uninterrupted reading, like in noon or at night when my daughter is sleeping, than finding a time in middle of something. It doesn’t make huge difference. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      Yeah, the “sneak in reading at any possible moment” thing sounds stressful and annoying to me. I agree you’d barely find your page and get reading before you had to put the book away! And sometimes I just want to stand in line at the store or whatever and…just stand there! I don’t want to be thinking that I’d better break out a book really fast to make the most of any possible spare moment.

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  5. Georgiana says:

    I fully agree with you! It’s a matter of how you decide to spend you time and also how you channel your energy. If reading is a priority, then that’s the top choice for evening plans, morning tea time, and so on. If reading is not a real priority, then you end up “wasting” time on other things that you prioritize and reading happens if there’s any time left.

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I’m glad so many people are agreeing with me! I thought I was going a bit crazy after seeing all these “how to read more” articles for months (years, really). I read because that’s what I choose to do! I don’t watch too many movies because I read a lot! I have time for only one thing at a time! :p

      Liked by 1 person

  6. mphtheatregirl says:

    I almost once read an audiobook. I just love the actual copy of a book- part of what takes me so long is when I am in the middle of a big classic book.

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      Yes, this is another reason I’m not a fan of “read more” pushes. I like reading classics, and some of them definitely take longer to read than the latest YA novel or whatever. People should feel free to take a month to read an in-depth classic if they want, instead of feeling as if they aren’t “reading enough.”

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      • mphtheatregirl says:

        I think it really does depend on the classic- some of them are much easier to read and some are even harder

        There is a reason why I tend to insert another genre in between the classics

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  7. Jillian says:

    I’m always a little put off when lists like the ones you mention suggest “reading while waiting in line” & such. As in, “don’t look around you & engage with humanity; spend every waking moment reading BOOKS” and that’s how to read more. Uh, there’s more to life than reading. My advice would be to sometimes choose to notice the sunrise, or when standing in line, put away the book, lift up your face, & say hello to your neighbor. This fixation on READING AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE IN EVERY SPARE SECOND YOU HAVE thing seems quite unhealthy. I agree that really the way to do it is to prioritize your time. If you want to read, you have to fit it in where you’re doing something else. If you don’t, that’s okay! Just read when you can. Maybe you won’t read as much, but my goodness, you won’t miss the sunrise either! 🙂

    (Not that reading in line isn’t a fine use of your time. But suggesting a person literally look for every open moment in the day to read two pages seems forced & unhealthy to me. Read if you want to. Balance it with other lovely things.)

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    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      Yes! I was just in the middle of commenting above something similar! Sometimes I just want to stand in a line and do nothing. Or look around the store or whatever! Or sit on a bus and look out the window and think instead of “doing something.” I know so many people have the habit of breaking out their smartphone at any possible spare moment that “break out a book anytime you’re not 100% busy” might not sound weird to people, but it sounds stressful to me!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Krysta says:

      Yes, thank you! I really hate all the advice that says, “Read while standing in line!” It’s incredibly stressful and you get to read, what? Two pages before you are hurriedly trying to shove your book back in your bag, put your stuff on the counter, and find your wallet? I think the only real time it makes sense to me to “sneak in” a book in when I’m in a waiting room and I know already I’m going to be sitting there 20 minutes with nothing to do. This whole, “Read your book two pages at a time” thing never made sense to me? Who likes to read their book two pages at at time? It’s not enjoyable.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Eustacia | Eustea Reads says:

    I agree! People ask me how I read so much, but the thing is… I have absolutely no idea about the latest shows because I choose to read instead. For example, I can’t tell you about Game of Thrones because I spent my time reading other books instead.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      So many people agreeing with me! I love it!

      I’m the same way. I don’t watch a lot of movies or shows. Sometimes I wonder how other people seem to have seen EVERYTHING and then I realize the answer is probably the same: watching shows is one of their prioritized hobbies, and that’s what they do in their spare time instead of doing other things.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Milliebot says:

    Totally agree! Whenever friends or fam who read little or not at all see that I’ve read more than 100 books a year they’re like “omg how?!” And it’s just so silly to me because all I’m doing is reading instead of other things. Like some people choose to binge-watch tv series, or watch their fave movies over and over, or do projects around the house. I don’t say, “omg how do you watch all that tv?” Because I know tv is what they choose to spend much of their time on, just as I choose books.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. bargainsleuthbookreviews says:

    I used to read and watch TV at the same time and would miss parts of each, so now reading is a solitary thing. Every night after dinner I go upstairs and read until bedtime. Sure, there are interruptions from the kids for a few minutes here or there, but they’re all older and can generally fend for themselves or ask my husband. I have gotten in the habit of listening to audio books at work, which I was a little nervous to try but has worked out well. The stuff I’m doing (putting product up on a shopping website) does not interfere with being able to pay attention to the audio book, so my TBR pile is slowly shrinking. I’ve already read 102 books this year, which is average for me.

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