I read a lot of books this past quarter (completed 7, 4 in progress, discarded a few after 50-100 pages) so close to less than 1 a week. This is the most I have ever read in my life and it absolutely felt great. I picked up on my love for reading much later in life though books have always been a big influence and source of joy in my life. Over the years as I have much less unstructured downtime, I find myself reading even more. Perhaps, there is something about being more intentional about the limited work and child-free time I have in my life that forces me to truly prioritize my real sources of joy over folding laundry (though sometimes reading and laundry can happen simultaneously!!).
I am often asked – “How do you get time to read?” so here is the inside scoop. As you will discover, it isn’t perfect, and I don’t think I read for more than 30 mins at a stretch. Often it is short spurts of a few minutes before I switch gears into my other roles. But still, it has been amazing to read or rather listen to books. Audiobooks have been a life changer when it comes to reading at this stage in my life.
- Driving – No surprise, I did a lot of my reading on audible or audio books on a CD. Fortunately, my commute is short but 10 sessions of 10 mins each add up to 100 minutes a week that can sometimes mean 20% of a book done in a week. I also drive to exercise classes and some errands, though I often have my kids with me on the latter so its often listening to Daniel Tiger or Old Macdonald at those times😊
- Cooking – I love to cook and when the kids are not around me in the kitchen, audible is running in the background. On most weekdays, I wake up before the kids and spend about 30 minutes packing their lunches and snacks and that’s a bonus reading time. It’s a time I greatly cherish where I get to make something with love and care for my kids and nourish my own soul in the background. Again, I can often get ~ 2 hours of reading time a week this way.
- times at work – I have a fairly intense tech job but sometimes I can strategically batch up some administrative tasks – scheduling meetings, expense reports, formatting slides, etc. and get a bonus 15-30 mins of reading time every couple of weeks.
- Random errands at home – I typically don’t do a lot of housekeeping without the kids but if there are random serendipitous quiet moments when the kids are with dad and I am folding laundry, audible is invited to the party again😊
- Car rides – I am blessed to not have motion sickness and unfortunately, I can’t drive on the freeway (that story will be in another blog post) but we do go on a lot of road trips with my husband on the drivers seat and the kids buckled up in their car seats at the back. Lately, Sumit and I call that our connection time where we often listen and discuss to a podcast or plan our weeks or resolve the usual marital conflicts as the kids can often engage themselves with books, colors or just each other. However, I sometimes do try and take 10-15 mins on my own to hold a paper book or read on the kindle.
- A few minutes before bed – This is honestly my favorite way of reading but given that Vivaan stays up till almost 10 most days and I try to sleep early to exercise before work a few times a week, this didn’t happen as much but there were a few minutes a few nights this past quarter.
Here’s another peek behind the scenes…
First and foremost, it’s the intention and desire. I was greatly inspired by Laura Vanderkam and Leanne Sowul who made me realize that I do have more time to read than I think. I had a list on Wunderlist on “Books to read” that I’d keep populating every time I came across something interesting, whether it was the Bill Gates list, Modern Mrs. Darcy, random bookstore recommendations, etc. This meant I never had an excuse that “I don’t know what to read.” I also always had a book with me – a paper book, my kindle, audible and the car CD player always had a book. I was also tracking the list of books I was reading in an Excel doc and seeing little progress was motivating. Also, on days and moments when the crazy voice in my head would say I am too overwhelmed or my life is too busy, looking at that list made me say – “Hey, I am not that busy to make time for the things that matter. Look at how much I have been reading lately.” I also have no trouble putting down a book if it’s not interesting. Sara of the SHUBOX.com uses a 50-page rule and I kind of follow that as well and will give a book an hour or so of my time before I decide its not for me.
And then, of course, there are tradeoffs, reading (rather listening) so much meant I didn’t spend time on podcasts, news, KQED forum (one of my favorite radio shows) as much as I typically did in the past. It also meant I had less time to wander and dream especially in the car though I have been trying to sometimes not turn on my book and “do nothing.” It also meant fewer phone calls but that was a choice that still felt fine as I was sufficiently connected with most of the important people in my life or calling someone in a different part of the world at 5 pm wasn’t going to be logistically convenient either. Listening to books while also packing kids’ lunches didn’t allow me to focus as much as holding a book in my hand in my bed but again 90% quality reading is better than no reading.
For those of you who like to read, do you have more tips on making time, finding books and keeping this love of reading going especially in a phase of life with a lot going on? And yes, I’d love book recommendations. I typically read non – fiction and memoirs but I am trying to read more fiction too😊