To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life. —W. Somerset Maugham
If you don't have time to read a book, you probably don't have much time to read this post, so I'll keep it short. Much to my reading dismay, I've found I have less time than ever to spend between the pages of a good book lately. Clearly, this is a problem for a girl trying to write a blog about books. It's an even bigger problem when said girl considers reading a refuge. Let's just say my crankiness rises as my reading time diminishes. In a nutshell: "If mama ain't reading, ain't nobody happy."
For the sake of my own sanity and my family's, I've had to get creative. Here are a few tricks I've found to be tried and true.
AUDIO BOOKS ARE YOUR BEST FRIEND
Hear me out on this one, even if Tracy, the purist, won't. I'm an ardent fan of listening to books. I wouldn't be able to read half as many as I do if I wasn't a listener. I listen when I walk my dog, work in the yard, clean my house, run errands, or wake up in the night and can't go back to sleep. It can make even the most mundane task a glorious escape. I find I actually look forward to cleaning the garage (one of my least favorite jobs) if I have a good book to listen to. And road trips? Give me a good book and I will happily drive for hours. You just have to watch me closely as I've been known to miss exits or entire towns when engrossed in a good story. For a list of some of my favorite listens, check out our bookshelf.
TAKE A BOOK WITH YOU EVERYWHERE
Stephen King wrote, "I take a book with me everywhere I go, and find there are all sorts of opportunities to dip in. The trick is to train yourself to read in small sips as well as long swallows." These past few weeks I put this idea to the test with great results. I found time to read waiting in the carpool line and a solid hour at the hair salon while my son Ben got his hair cut (it helps that his thick, luscious locks take five-ever to tame). The bonus of keeping a book with me? Besides finding time to read I didn't know I had, I found that as I reached for a book rather than my phone, I avoided the time-sucking vacuum of social media (good) and spent less time reading the news (even better...it's depressing anyway).
GO TO BED WITH A BOOK
I've been doing this my whole life. Some like to fall asleep to the television, I'll take a book any day...or night. I try to read every night, even if I can only make it a few pages before the book is falling out of my hands. This is just one more thing Tracy and I have in common with our imaginary BFF, Anna Quindlen:
I remember the first year after my second child was born, what I can remember of it at all, as a year of disarray, of overturned glasses of milk, of toys on the floor, of hours from sunrise to sunset that were horribly busy but filled with what, at the end of the day, seemed like absolutely nothing at all. What saved my sanity were books. What saved my sanity was disappearing, if only for fifteen minutes before I inevitably began to nod off in bed, into the dark and placid English rooms of Anita Brookner's newest novel, into the convoluted plots of Elmore Leonard's latest thriller, into one of my old favorites, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Goodbye,...Wuthering Heights. The romantic ramblings of Heathcliff make a piquant counterpoint to dirty diapers, that's for sure. And as it was for me when I was young and surrounded by siblings, as it is today when I am surrounded by children, reading continues to provide an escape from a crowded house into an imaginary room of one's own.