Six Times You Could Be Reading (And Probably Aren’t)
We love ‘em. At least I hope everyone reading this blog loves ‘em, because I will surely be bothering you to read at least one at some point. Not for a while, though, don’t worry. Anyway. Books! Writers should read ‘em, as anyone who’s ever even vaguely looked into the career has heard a thousand times already. Keeps you exposed to fresh ideas, different styles, examples of what works and what doesn’t work, yadda yadda yadda.
The only problem is that reading takes time. (The main problem, anyway. A kitten that hates books and tries to murder them with claws is also a problem. I have lots of problems.) Time is the precious commodity you spend on writing. There’s probably a day job or a marriage or kids or something in there, too, so the schedule can start to look pretty full pretty quickly. But who can give up reading? Bleary-eyed but triumphant, I have finished a list of six excellent ways to sneak reading back into your life without losing your mind or more than a few hours of sleep:
- Take Public Transit. Commuting sucks and is the worst thing you could ever do with your life including swallowing live bees for money. But public transit isn’t really a commute at all! It’s “Sustained Silent Reading,” or whatever your primary school called “the best hour of the school day always” — just you and your book. And it’s all for work. They can’t take it away from you. Don’t let them. Make up environmentally-appropriate reasons to justify bussing it even after they offer you the company car. And be sure to cover your books with a cut-up brown paper bag, because the crazies on the bus have an opinion about everything.
- Read at Meals. I am told that some children get picked on for doing this, but you’re an adult! Fuck ‘em. If you get a lunch hour, bury your nose during it. (I was over six feet tall by seventh grade and may be underestimating how bad the teasing was for smaller humans, but seriously — adults now.) Breakfast is even more permissible, since no one wants to talk to you at that hour of the morning anyway. Even my book-hating cat won’t fuck with me when I’m that surly.
- Top the Toilet Tank…with a good book! Or bring one in, either way. I worked at a Boy Scout camp throughout my misspent youth, and one of my fellow counselors finished the entirety of Anna Karenina without ever moving it out of the toilet stall. Your diet is hopefully a little lower in fiber than ours was, but you get the idea. Those minutes on the toilet add up to a lot of wasted life if you don’t have a book in there with you. And you don’t really want your mind on what you’re doing anyway. As an added bonus, those blank pages in the back can be a last-ditch salvation when you use a public hole without checking for TP first.
- Be a Good Employee and Never Ever Read on Your Shift Even if There Is No One Else There and It Could Not Possibly Matter. Come on, guys. My boss reads this thing. But if you ever get stuck manning a tollbooth on an underused exit ramp or something, you could consider sneaking a few pages in at work.
- Storytime before Bed! You don’t need small children for this one. In fact, it’s even better without small children, because you can read much more interesting books. Reading aloud with a friend or partner is a lot slower than reading to yourself, but it lets you effectively double-bill your time: you’re getting “hard-working writer” credit for continuing to read other material and you’re getting “loving spouse” credit for doing a shared activity. And while honesty compels me to admit that O Best Beloved and I mostly do read books meant for children for our read-alouds, I’m sure there are couples out there that could read more advanced literature…or even something spicy to set the mood before the lights go out, perhaps? I leave it to you.
- Read Yourself to Sleep. If you don’t have someone to do read-aloud with or they go to bed before you do, you can still get a bit of reading in after you’re done with your exhausting day’s work. A wind-down book after writing for hours helps quiet my brain and knock me out — usually. This can be a double-edged sword, since once in a while you’re reading something so good that dawn’s rosy fingers escape your notice entirely and are replaced by mid-morning’s sucker punch.
Where are you sneaking your reading in? Inquiring minds want to know…right after they get done with their evening wind-down reading and the inevitably short hours of sleep that follow. See you on the Comments page!