Enough Time To… Read Books


“Surely she was entitled to read, had seen to it that she inconvenienced no-one. People who wanted her to give up reading were asking too much without offering anything in return.”
I for Isobel, Amy Witting.

Reading/Breathing – Both Essential to Life

Like many of you, I love reading. I always have – it is part of who I am. One of my mum’s frequent laments when I was a child went something like “why can’t you be a normal kid, get your head out of that book and go outside to play?” I read at every meal I ate on my own. I read on the toilet. I read while cleaning my teeth. I read before school, and during breaks, and after school, and of course, in bed until all hours of the night. At primary school, I was a library monitor, and loved it. Dewey decimal satisfied my need for order and lists, and I also reached Level 20 at covering books in contact. Not the tiniest bubble. Matched folds, sharp corners. Works of art!

Dublin - Trinity College Library
Dublin – Trinity College Library by Irish Welcome Tours (CC BY 2.0)

Libraries – Home Away from Home

Libraries were, and still are, places where I can walk in and just feel like I belong. Even as I’ve mostly had to morph my usage of them over the years from leisure to study, I still feel a calm when I enter. I have strong memories of our little local library as a child – small, dark, with musty corners and dim lights; it was a place of discovery. The “new” library is larger, open plan, light and glass and modern. I’ve learned to love it as well, but you know what? It hasn’t had the time (or perhaps enough soft furnishings) to yet develop the smell. You know the one, that book smell you breathe in deeply, feeling it nourish your soul. A decade or so ago, Mr. ETT and I had the opportunity to visit the Trinity College Library, in Ireland, which is over 400 years old. It is so magnificent, and awe-inspiring, it brought tears to my eyes!

Still Reading – Just?

My time for reading has morphed as well. I no longer feel I have the time to just sit and read. I read in bursts, small snatches of a few pages here and there. I have a book next to my bed, which I might manage to read for 5 minutes before I’m too tired to go on. I have a book in the bathroom (some childhood habits are never broken – and what else are you supposed to do?) I also have audio books on my iPad that I listen to while doing housework or driving. I worry that devoting large chunks of time to reading for pleasure is a skill that I have lost. I don’t know if I am able to just sit and concentrate on a single thing any more. The lure of the TV, the Interwebs, the pull of obligations, trying to navigate a vessel through the vast reaches of space… I guess it comes down to my priorities. Why has something that has been so integral to my entire life now relegated to “when I can”? It’s not actually any more difficult to read a book than to watch TV. It is, however, a solo pursuit (harking back to my mother’s catch-cry). When we are watching TV, Mr. ETT and I are participating in a story together, just in a different format. And after work, we like to try to spend time together. Maybe I need to look at other times I can sit down and just read. If it is a skill that I’ve lost, then perhaps with practice, I can get it back again. Or is it like exercise – it’s OK to break it into smaller sessions, as long as your total hits the requirement for health? Actually, now I’ve written that, I reject it. Thinking of reading in that light makes it feel like a chore!

Where’s the Proof?

Like all hypotheses, my feeling that I’m not reading enough needs to be supported by data (data, YAY!). I will keep track of all the times I read during a week, and decide if there is any proof for my concerns. Hopefully we will see some lovely data that can support decision-making, and perhaps even a graph if we’re lucky.

How do you consume books? Do you devote time to reading?

Time well spent this trip…
Book: The Demon Apostle by R. A. Salvatore

10 thoughts on “Enough Time To… Read Books

  1. Hey Mrs ETT

    “I read at every meal I ate on my own. I read on the toilet. I read while cleaning my teeth. I read before school, and during breaks, and after school, and of course, in bed until all hours of the night.”

    Haha, I could have written this and in fact, apart from the school bit, it still very much applies to me today! I also read if I’m on public transport (planes, trams and trains) , when I’m in a long queue (eg post office) and also whilst I’m drying my hair, waiting for pan to boil etc!

    As a child, I was a real bookworm, though a bit of an anomaly as when I wasn’t reading, I was out playing sports! I continued to read for enjoyment throughout adulthood but gradually, as you have mentioned, TV and internet got in the way.

    What prompted me to start reading more books again were two things:

    1 – the proposed closure of my local library – I realised that if I didn’t use it, I could lose it.

    2 – someone pointed me in the direction of goodreads.com and I started tracking my own reading, setting myself reading challenges, discovering new authors.

    I also became less of a ‘book snob’ and more open to read other kinds of books, although I do have my core favourites.

    As I’m sure you’ll find when you spend more time reading, you’ll end up doing less of other things, ie watching tv etc. It’s that or end up sleeping less!

    Anyway, I look forward to seeing the findings of your ‘data’!

    • I read about the troubles libraries were going through over there – it was terrible! I’m concerned we (being the Government of Australia) may try to do something similar in the never-ending search for fiscal efficiencies. Let’s all hope not, because the world would be far worse off without libraries.

  2. I looooooove to read. It is by far my favourite pastime. For the last couple of days we haven’t had internet (reason why will be revealed on the blog soon). It is amazing how much reading I have gotten done in that time!!!

    A few years ago, being quite the reading nerd, I set a New Year’s Resolution to read 52 books- one book a week. I made it to 50 and finished the 51st (Condoleeza Rice’s memoir) on New Years Day. Since then, I have continued tracking my books read in an Excel spreadsheet. Today, I finished my 30th for 2016.

    Poopsie and I like to spend time together after work as well. We don’t actually own a TV but we would certainly waste individual time on the Internet. Earlier this year we started reading the Harry Potter series out loud to each other. We are currently on the fifth book. We don’t do it everyday, sometimes there are even weeks between each time we do it, but it combines our mutual love of reading and spending time together. Perhaps you and Mr. ETT can try something similar?

    • Yet again TV pops up as a contributing reason for me not reading as much as I would like. Why did you decide not to get a TV? Have you already blogged about that? I think it would be an interesting post.

      That’s awesome that you and Poopsie read out loud together! The closest Mr. ETT and I get are on road trips, where I will put on an audiobook in the car. Mr & Mrs Dollar Note$ also read (or used to read) out loud to each other. It’s not something I had ever thought about before.

  3. Reading feels like a very apt “time” activity to look at – it’s one of the first things people drop when they get busy. I am a little ashamed to say it will have been well over a year since I’ve completed reading a book.. but I do read a lot of other things, reading blogs is really enjoyable to me, just lacks the comfort and charm of pages in a book.

    By the way – have you set up a Twitter account? 🙂

    Jasmin

    • Hi Jasmin,

      Blogs are a staple of my reading as well, it will be interesting to see by how much when the results are through.

      I’m currently still at the “See Spot Run” level of WordPress, so I haven’t even begun to consider social media at this point. It could be a possibility in the future.

  4. “Libraries were, and still are, places where I can walk in and just feel like I belong.”

    This goes straight into my list of favorite quotes!

    I used to read a lot of books, now I must admit I’ve problems with linear reading. I do read way waaaaay more, but mostly blogs and forums. I’m more of a random-but-structured-walker living proof that chaos theories work for learning too 🙂

    Nice post!

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