Now, we’re all here because we love books, but how often do you climb into bed, open your book and find yourself reading the same sentence time and time again, unable to make sense of the words because your eyes are so tired from staring at a screen all day? How often do you think – Ooh, I’ll just reply to that Facebook message before I pick up my book, and find yourself still on the internet twenty minutes later, having lost your one opportunity to read that day? The truth is, as much as we all love books, our precious reading time is in danger of being sucked away into a black hole of messaging, browsing, Googling, Tweeting, and watching amusing cat videos… Perhaps you’re much more disciplined than I am with all this, but I’m getting increasingly frustrated with the time I’m frittering away staring at my various devices when I could be soaking up a splendid story. So, having spoken to some friends who feel similarly frustrated, here are some top tips for safeguarding your reading time…
1. Kick the habit – because it literally is an addiction… Apparently, the brain patterns associated with receiving new messages, ‘Likes’ or ‘Retweets’ on social networking sites are eerily similar to the brain patterns of other addictive ‘hits’ such as gambling. Of course, social network sites are not harmful in the way that some other addictions can be, so our brains are happy to indulge in the temptations of Tweeting, knowing there are likely to be no bad consequences (unless you count losing lots of precious time as a bad consequence of course). Try giving the internet a break for just one weekend and see if you can plough through a fantastic novel in all that gained time!
2. Get into bed thirty minutes earlier. I know this sounds like a punishment, but IT ISN’T – it’s a glorious, blissful luxury! (particularly when you get to my age…) This way you won’t be too exhausted to enjoy your reading time. Grab your comfiest PJs and hop into bed half an hour earlier than usual, with a nice cup of cocoa and a lovely book to read. Oh, and leave your phone / laptop / tablet on silent. And switched off. In a different room…
3. Reading before dinner. I’ve found that sometimes, rather than leaving my reading to the very end of the day, grabbing half an hour of peaceful reading time before dinner can often be much more satisfying. You’re all wide awake and your brain is still buzzing from your busy day. Sometimes a quiet half hour, lost in an amazing story is just what you need to clear your head, put the day behind you and get all relaxed and happy so you can enjoy the rest of the evening with your family.
4. Give the Kindle a try… I’m a very recent Kindle convert. With the exception of Harry Potter, I’m usually late to the party with exciting new fads (I was among the first of my friends to discover J. K. Rowling’s magical world, way back in 1999… I know, I know – you weren’t even born then – don’t rub it in…), and the Kindle is no exception to this rule. While I’ll still buy proper books from proper book shops most of the time (Support your local book shop, folks!), the Kindle is great for when I’m travelling, and it’s so exciting to hear about a brilliant new book and to be able to buy it instantly! Kindles are so light and portable, they can come with you wherever you go, so you’ll find little pockets of extra reading time in an otherwise crazy day.
5. Embrace the audiobook. I don’t know about you but I can’t read whilst travelling in a car, and I also can’t read whilst walking, exercising or doing the shopping, tidying, washing up etc. but I can listen… I love audiobooks. I think it’s because they remind me of being read to when I was very small. They’re also great for those ‘classics’ your English teachers are always banging on about, because the actor’s voice helps make the meaning of those long and complex sentences crystal clear. Try downloading an audiobook of something you’ve always meant to read, and listen to it the next time you’re on a long car journey… Now your device is actually increasing your available reading time, rather than taking it away from you! Clever, huh?
How do you fit reading time into your busy days? Tell us your top tips!
Lucy Strange’s first novel, Moth and the Nightingale, is being published by Chicken House in 2016.
P.S. Just to clarify, browsing the amazing posts on Girls Heart Books absolutely does not count as time frittered away on the internet 🙂