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Less Time to Read Has Changed My Reading

I’ve mentioned before that I’m working two jobs. Ironically, when I quit my last second job shortly before I got married, I SWORE I’d never have  a second job again. But the perfect situation came up and who am I to turn down work? And not only am I working two jobs, but I recently got a promotion at work that keeps me going so hard that I’m usually there past 5pm (not much, but 15-30 minutes most days).

Before I was pregnant, I took the bus for almost 2 years. I found that I gained a buttload of reading time and I enjoyed not having to worry about driving to and from work, which more than made up for the inconvenience of not having a car at my disposal during the day. But then when I got pregnant, with many more doctor appointments and then the promotion (which came weeks after I found out I was pregnant), I figured it’d be easiest to start driving again.

I lost the reading time that I’d gained by taking the bus.

Now I’m working so much that a typical day looks something like this: 6am Get out of bed and dawdle around the house and check email and then get ready for work. I’m not a morning person so it takes me a while to get moving. Anywhere from 7:30am to 8:00am I’ll leave the house for work. I work from 8am to 5pm, though I usually leave the office closer to 5:15 or 5:30pm. I’ll arrive home between 5:30 and 5:45pm and start making dinner. We eat dinner around 6:30pm or 7pm. Once we’ve eaten, I sit down at my computer to work on TLC. I work on TLC stuff until 10pm or later, at which time I go to bed. That’s my schedule Monday through Friday. On Saturdays and Sundays I get up around 9am and work all day until it’s time to go to bed at 10pm. Of course, I stop for lunch and I shower at some point and some weekends I have to do errands. Otherwise, that’s my schedule.

So to say I don’t have much reading time is an understatement. I try to read at work during lunch, but that happens at best 2 times a week. I insist on reading when I get in bed, but with the kind of schedule I’m keeping, I can only get through a few pages before I zonk out.

I used to think that if you said you didn’t have time to read that that was just bullshit. Now I think it’s possible not to have time to read no matter how much you really want to do it.

But instead of not reading, instead of giving up books for TV or just…nothing, I’ve decided that I need to change my reading habits while I’m in this situation. So the books I’ve decided I’ll read until I’m able to quite my day job (HELLO MARCH 26TH!) have to be exciting, compelling, and unputdownable. So far, those have been mysteries, though the book I’m reading right now, The Bright Forever, actually matches my criteria. Unfortunately, this leaves out books that take some time to develop, books that require a little more effort.

When I first made this choice, I was totally bummed out. My books of choice are literary fiction, and I have no problem with a book that requires more effort and starts off slow. Those books often have the best payout. But with the little snippets of time that I’ve got, with the little amount of energy I have left when I go to bed in the evening, I had to do something. I had to do something that would make it possible for me to continue reading.

So I’ve had to set aside a couple of books that were good but that became burdensome because I could only read a few pages at a time. The good part of this is that I picked up a book I’ve been meaning to read for years and just never got around to.

I’m wondering if you’ve ever experienced a lack of reading time and how you dealt with it. I’d also love your suggestions for books that are, for lack of a better word, compulsively readable. I need books that I don’t want to put down from page one and that make me want to stay up late into the night, no matter how tired I am. Help a girl out?

| Tags: 32 comments »

32 Responses to “Less Time to Read Has Changed My Reading”

  1. Beth F ()

    Say hello to audiobooks — you have time to listen when you’re in car, when you’re waiting at doctor’s appointments, and when you’re cooking dinner or cleaning up from dinner. I bet you could add a book a week! Start with something light until you get used to the medium.

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  2. Lu ()

    I second Beth’s audio books. When exam time comes around, or the semester just gets particularly busy, I resort to two strategies. When I do read, I’m only reading YA or Middle Grade fiction or some really exciting mystery. I have a long commute, so I listen to audiobooks in the car (but I can’t really listen to them when I’m doing anything else). It ends up working out. Sometimes I even read more books that way (because they’re shorter, first of all), but also because when my reading time is so scheduled I don’t get distracted by other things.

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  3. Jen - Devourer of Books ()

    I was going to mention audiobooks too, and I see that everyone else beat me to it. If you’re ever doing boring, repetitive tasks at work (and your boss doesn’t mind) you could even listen then. But yeah, there is such thing as not having time/energy to sit down and read print, although I’m still pretty sure that most people who use that excuse aren’t working 90+ hours per week and really are just not choosing to use their time to read.

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  4. Shonda ()

    Audio books have really helped me get more reading time in. I only listened to them during my commute home until recently. Now I also listen while grocery shopping and cleaning. When I find I have less time to read, I usually pick up something fun and entertaining. Chick lit or a cozy mystery. I also find a favorite author to read. Like you I try to read during lunch, but lately I have had to work during my lunch hour. And before bed doesn’t always work either. My intent is there, but I’m practically asleep before I turn down the covers. Believe it or not I’ve started reading while I’m waiting for dinner to cook, curling my hair, and brushing my teeth. I’m trying to be creative and think of little ways to squeeze in a page here or there. Finding balance has always been a challenge for me.

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  5. Melissa

    Ha, clearly I’m not in the minority here – audiobooks! But in addition to that, always keep a book with you. As for compulsive reads, series sometimes work wonders, just make sure you have all the books on hand so there’s no lag. The Hunger Games trilogy and HP books are good examples. Also, Time Travelers Wife, The Book Thief and Shadow of the Wind were all ones I couldn’t put down.

    I used to work at a daily newspaper and I found that I had very little reading time available. It was really hard to adjust to.

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  6. Amanda ()

    You know, I didn’t even think about audiobooks until I read the comments! How funny…it’s a good suggestion though!

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  7. Frances ()

    Novellas and short novels are another great option. Highly recommend Muriel Spark if you have not had the pleasure yet.

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  8. Trisha ()

    Since I’m not an audiobook person, that was not the suggestion which popped in my head; although I do think it’s an excellent one. I really hate to say this, but the couple times in my life where I just have been too busy to read, I’ve reverted back to romance novels. I count on Nora Roberts, Sandra Brown, Elizabeth Lowell, et al. to get me through the horrendously busy times. They are just so amazingly easy to read, rarely are they chunksters, and they are so much like dreams (reality but definitely fantasy). Now I know romance novels aren’t for everyone, but when I was working full time as a marketing manager, getting my Masters degree, and commuting two hours to work and two hours home every freaking day, romance novels are the only way I got to read at all. Anything harder would have made my brain explode. 🙂

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  9. raych ()

    Ok firstly, HOLY HELL WOMAN! And then secondly, I ALSO get up at 6 BECAUSE I’m not a morning person, and no one else has ever understood this. I need to be able to stare at a wall for a certain length of time before my brain turns on.

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  10. Jeane

    Wow, you do sound busy! I find that when I’m short on reading time a book, as you’ve mentioned, has to really be compelling and hold a storyline well. Chunksters and slow books are too hard to pick up after a long gap and read in short spurts. I second the short story option; it’s nice to be able to read a bit when you have the moment and yet come away feeling like the story’s completed. I’ve never listened to audiobooks but it sounds like a very good suggestion!

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  11. Michelle

    I see that @bethfishreads already mentioned audiobooks (being the audiobook queen that she is!) and I’ll echo that sentiment. I’ve listened to a lot more books now that I’m commuting to work every day than I had before. You might be able to enjoy some of the longer books that require more effort that way. 🙂

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  12. Heather ()

    I’m with everyone else on the audiobook suggestion. I read 1-2 audiobooks a week between my driving time and the time I spend doing random tasks around the house – getting ready every morning, cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, etc.

    I can’t remember if you are a YA fan, but if so – Sarah Dessen is a great one to try. Her books bridge the gap between YA and adult fiction (I think) and are “easier” to read I suppose than dense literary fiction.

    And also, holy cow you work a lot. Not many people can say they will have more downtime upon arrival of an infant, but I think you just might be one of those people!

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  13. Icedream ()

    Here are three books that I didn’t see on any of your READ list’s that I couldn’t put down:

    Labor Day by Joyce Mayard
    One Good Dog by Susan Wilson
    Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (YA- but I see you do read some YA and this one was really good)
    I also can’t put down anything written by Fannie Flagg- I didn’t check to see if you already read this one but it’s a goodie for this time of year – A Redbird Christmas.

    As far as audio books, I never thought I would like them, and actually I can’t listen to one while I am trying to get things done. But I recently started to listen to them when I go to bed (volume low) and I fall asleep to someone reading to me. 🙂 The next night I have to figure out at what point in the story I dozed off but it’s been worth it and I’ve made it through two books so far.

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  14. Barb ()

    I read at doctors’ appointments, when my husband’s driving the family to Orlando, when hubby and son are watching something on tv that I don’t want to watch, the list goes on! My best time to read is right before I go to sleep. Maybe some of my ideas will help! And I do agree with Beth & Lu!

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  15. zibilee ()

    I have had spurts where I had virtually no time to read, and though it was necessary, it was also very disheartening to me. I can totally understand what you are going through, and why the books you are reading now have to be super amazing. I have two suggestions for great books for you. One is The Human Bobby by Gabe Rotter, and one is Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee. Both blew my mind in different ways, and both were really hard to put down. I hope that you soon find more reading time, and that until then, you read some really great books!

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  16. jennygirl

    When I was taking classes I never had time to read for pleasure. It sucked, but i knew it wouldn’t last forever. I did always try to have a light book going at all times. Something you can pick up and down and not skip a beat. Of course this means nothing too serious, but more like murder mystery or romantic suspense.
    I’m currently reading The Agency, A Mary Quinn Mystery by Y.S. Lee. It’s teen fiction but totally fun and hard to put down. Not too big, and I love Mary Quinn. that’s my recommendation.

    As for audiobooks, I can’t do them. I learned to tune out conversations for my job, and I find that I tune out audio books as well. Podcasts I can handle because they are short. Maybe I just need to find the right audio book.

    Good luck my friend. Thanksgiving is around the corner which should get you some reading time. And don’t skip lunch! Everyone needs some me time during the day.

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  17. christa @ mental foodie

    I love reading fiction, the past couple of years 75% of the books I read (around 100 altogether) were non-fiction. This year, my job is getting busier, and I found it much easier to read fiction as I don’t have to pay as much attention… YA is even easier since usually it’s straight to the point and most are fast read.

    I can’t do audio books because I tuned it out… but I may try it again some day…

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  18. Amy @ My Friend Amy

    I crave those compulsive reads during times of high stress/little reading time as well! I know you’ve started reading less YA, but Courtney Summers books are the definition of compulsive reading to me–they are really good and short as well. And I’d echo Trisha on romance novels…the ones with really good characterization and romantic tension can be hard for me to put down.
    I’m trying to think of good mysteries, but it seems I’ve read shockingly few in recent years.

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  19. Leslie @ Under My Apple Tree ()

    Not to be redundant, but I say give audiobooks a try. It does take a little time to get used to them. I can’t listen in the car, there is too much distraction around me when I’m driving. However, they are great for when I’m cooking, cleaning, walking to and from the train, out in the garden, etc. I stick them on my iPod. I find short stories and non-fiction are easier to focus on than more involved novels. Right now I’m listening to Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. It’s an easy one to start and stop at any point and get back to.

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  20. JHS ()

    Oh, yes, I have gone through lengthy periods of time when I did not have a single spare moment to read for pleasure. I can actually think of three such times off the top of my head: 1. Law school. Read anything other than the required material? Fuhgeddaboutit. 2. When undergoing treatment for various visual problems. AND . . . 3. When my kids were babies, toddlers, and then youngsters. Sorry to say! I was so busy that when my kid was napping, I either took advantage and caught another hour of sleep myself or used the time to catch up on other household chores like laundry, etc. I have not tried audio books yet, although I have a few on the shelf and I plan to. Might be a really good solution, though. I will be curious to hear how things work out for you!

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  21. Michelle @ The True Book Addict ()

    I’m also going to recommend audio books. Even if you’re only in the car for a few minutes at a time, those minutes add up. I take my kids to school and pick them up and I take my husband to work so that gives me about an hour total of daily listening. If I run any errands, that’s just added time. My problem with reading is the falling asleep. It seems like I just get settled in to reading and I’m falling asleep. Motherhood is exhausting…LOL!

    One book that I could not put down was Hush by Kate White. You might want to check it out.

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  22. Ewa ()

    Hi! You should read “Madame” by Antoni Libera. I bet you will laugh your head off 😀

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  23. Joanna ()

    Wow, that’s some schedule… I made a similar decision when I had my son. I read only un-put- downable books, which meant lots of YA, including The Hunger Games, which was perfect. YA was perfect because of the simplicity… I actually re-visited a lot of favorites from when I was a kid during that time.

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  24. Bibliophile By the Sea

    Yep…..wake, work, sleep, wake, work, sleep……and I ask myself..”Is that all there is”? some days it is just pretty depressing if you let yourself dwell on it. Fortunately, you enjoy some time to yourself (briefly anyways). and I have 5 days off this week and 10 days off in Dec…win/win 🙂

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  25. Jenny ()

    I really, really sympathize. I know that it’s possible to not have enough time to read, but I do think in many cases when people claim not to have time to read, it’s like when I claim not to have time to exercise. I have time to exercise. I’m just using it for reading.

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  26. Gayle ()

    Not enough time to read – that’s my life. I work FT, usually til about 7, and with two 6-year olds at home and work that spills over into the night, I have precious little reading time. I hate it! 2 pieces of advice – 1) audiobooks, as everyone else has said – i just started listening to audiobooks on my short commute and it has still helped me add a few books a month. I always have the hard copy as well so that I can switch off between the two, depending on where I am; and 2) don’t feel guilty about it. Life happens. And with a baby, you’ll have even less time. Just make the most of what you have and try not stress about it!

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  27. nikki ()

    After my kid was born (well, really after he became a toddler) I was in the same boat, but I fought it until I realized it took me three weeks to get 36 pages in to Blindness. I put Blindness aside and started picking up shorter, quick reads. Not great fiction, but something to just let me get through the damn book! Oddly enough, that’s when I realized there’s a plethora of great YA lit out there now, and I now consider myself a YA convert.

    It seems to never end though. My kid is four now, and I’m only now halfway through Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom -and it’s taken me over six weeks to get there. Sigh.

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  28. Lisa

    I get up earlier in the morning than I technically need to as well. Like you I use that time to wake up and get ready for the day, which means a leisurely breakfast–and while I’m eating, I’m always reading. I can usually get in 10 or so pages. It’s not much but it really helps.

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  29. Stacybuckeye ()

    My reading did change during pregnancy and has changed again since Gage arrived. I found/find the ‘light’ stuff easier to read. When you are that busy or have that much more occupying your mind books that make you put more effort in tend to languish on the bedside table too long. Enjoy this time of fun reading without guilt 🙂

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  30. nat @book, line, and sinker ()

    i’m with everyone else–audio books are the way to go. i polish off a book a week on my commute. my only complaint: my library has a sucky selection of titles.

    hope you’re feeling good! 🙂 have a great weekend.

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  31. Trish ()

    Audiobooks.

    Honestly? I couldn’t even tell you how many books I’ve read this year because I don’t know. Somewhere between 20 and 25, I’m guessing/hoping. Last year was over 50 and the year before over 70, so this is quite the change. I used to get really annoyed at those people who said they didn’t have time to read but now I get annoyed with those who get annoyed with the people who say they don’t have time to read. 😛 Like you I try to read at lunch, but lately this has only been happening maybe 2-3 times a week–and forget blogging!

    But just listening to your schedule makes me tired. I’m lucky if I’m still up at 10 pm. 😉

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  32. melanie ()

    I am always surprised how much my current reading experiences mirror yours, including the books you are buying! (I too have crooked letter & unbroken in my latest purchase pile). I wish I had good advice…I find I am still reading but definitely unable to find time to write anything about what I’m reading. And instead of devouring books I’m chewing on them for weeks at a time. I just keep them available – think of all those nice dr office visits you have coming. And as the time with the little one draws closer you will begin to set more & better boundaries and find time to read again. This too shall pass …

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