How often do you hear people say:
“I wish I could read more often. I just don’t have the time.”
Actually, there’s always time to do the things that you love, as long as you accord them priority. Often, we neglect to do something because there seems to be something else that is more important to do and which takes precedence over it.
Apart from reading for work & research purposes, I believe in finding time to read for the sake of reading. And this doesn’t include reading the news or trawling the internet for the latest happenings – that’s mostly for the purpose of keeping yourself abreast of what’s going on in the world, but doesn’t do much for introspection. Grab a book (or an e-book), read up something that is of interest to you, be it science, religion, history, philosophy or fiction. Actually, I think a good fiction can encompass most of the foregoing. But that’s a topic for another day.
How to find time?
To repeat, prioritise. If you rank the pleasure derived from reading higher than that of other activities (e.g. playing computer games, watching Youtube), you would naturally set aside more time for reading.
Having said that, time is often available and we just don’t realise it.
Say you take the train to work in the morning, and the journey takes 30 minutes. That’s 30 minutes of reading each way, and 1 hour of reading on a return trip. 1 whole hour! (Yet another reason for taking public transport – but even if you drive, could audiobooks be an alternative?)
Sure, finding pockets of time in the day to read a book doesn’t allow you to finish a book from front to cover in one sitting. But cumulatively reading is better than not reading at all.
Creating the atmosphere for reading
Reading requires concentration. Therefore, find out what switches on your reading mode.
Some like sitting in a quiet cafe with the aroma of a cuppa. Some like curling up on their bed. Some like to be in an air-conditioned environment (especially in this very humid region in the world). Some like to sit by the beach maybe under a tree (though a coconut tree is not recommended).
For me, I find it so much easier to read without the distractions of TV, phone and the internet. Switch them all off I say! Easier said than done, unfortunately. But once that’s done, the results are amazing – even the most impossible tomes look less daunting.
Read what interests you, and not what you ought to be reading
There are tonnes of book lists out there. A good book list could recommend where to start or introduce you to books you haven’t discovered before. But somehow, that creates the impression that one must read the books on the book list. Or that “if I haven’t read them, I’m not as well read as I think I am.” My current philosophy is this: life’s too short to read things that just doesn’t engage me. Does that make sense?
Sometimes I also have this dilemma: getting stuck in a book that I just can’t seem to get through as quickly I’d like. Should I abandon ship? Should I judge the book by its cover and the 80-100 or so pages I have read? Since I have invested some time already, I might just stick with it and see whether it gets any better… wait, what if it doesn’t get any better? I don’t know. Until now, I still have no conclusion to this – what do you think? So far, I have not re-read any of the the books that I have “stuck it out” with. Maybe that’s a sign to go with my first instincts.
Re-reading a book you like is not a waste of time
Sometimes I re-read a book to relive the joyful experience of discovering the book the first time round. And of course, to re-live the passages that moved or enthralled me the first time round. I don’t see it as a waste of time. After all, if literature is a dedicated discipline in academia, merely re-reading a book that you like in your spare time can’t possibly be a waste of time.
Actually, writing this post now reminds me of a few books that I want to re-read!