New parenthood and reading a lot didn’t go hand-in-hand for me. For much of the first year of Faye’s life, and well into the second, I often felt like I was barely able to keep my eyes open and complete my responsibilities of work and parenting let alone find a quiet moment to still my mind and settle into a book. I could hardly handle the commitment of a movie and James and I probably streamed more tv shows in the year after Faye was born than in the entirety of our life together before she came along. I’m not demonizing tv, but I do think that a reading habit offers me a little more bit more in the way of general happiness.
Since moving our bed out of our shared room last fall, and since crawling out of the young infancy and early toddler period, I’ve been making a concerted effort to get back into my long-loved reading habit.
Since publishing a piece on my make-believe summer reading list a week or two ago, I’ve gotten a number of emails asking me how I’m able to find the time to read. Here are a few habit-shifting tips that I’ve found to be helpful:
1. Plus one, minus one. You can’t create more hours in the day. You can only change what you fill them with. For me, finding time to read mostly meant replacing an hour in front of a laptop streaming a tv show, with an hour in front a book reading. (And to be sure: sometimes all I manage is ten minutes.)
2. Start slow. When I first started to make a concerted effort to get back into reading, I began my pledge with a commitment to finish at least one New Yorker article before falling asleep. Even if it was only the restaurant review. (And it was often the restaurant review.)
3. Read what you like. I used to be a real read-‘er-straight-through-whether-you-like-it-or-not kind of reader. Once I’d committed to a book, I felt a weird obligation to finish it, and I was doubly burdened because I never wanted to start a new book until I was through with the first. I don’t think I’m entirely alone in this book-related-guilt. (Right?) Regardless, in this new moment of book-reading I’ve started and stopped four different books this summer that I just couldn’t get into and I’m giving myself permission to read only what I really enjoy. Sweet freedom. And so many more books that I’ve actually finished.
4. Borrow and lend. As the author of a fairly new book, I realize I should be encouraging people to buy books, not borrow them. But borrowing makes the world go round and it definitely makes me read more. I’ve mentioned before that James gave me a kindle for Mother’s Day and I’ve been stocking up on books from the Brooklyn Public Library ever since. I still have my fair share of bound books kicking around, and the neighborhood stoop swap continues to serve me as means of keeping the bookshelves from tumbling over, but I’ve really found that using an e-reader has drastically increased the amount I borrow from the local library (and read!).
What about you guys? On a reading kick? In a reading rut? Utterly impartial?