“HOW do you have time to READ??” Whenever I mention a book I’ve read or am reading, this is usually the response I get from other mothers.
I assume this reaction of disbelief is because I have articulately/accurately described the chaos involved in raising four children/one relationship/one self.
But do you notice how no one ever says, when you mention Matthew and Mary, “YOU watch TV??? HOW do you have the TIME?” (on Sundays at 9 p.m. on PBS, FYI). And yet, I know for a fact that most of you parents out there watch non-kid-oriented TV. I have nothing against TV (particularly not if it is Downton Abbey, Homeland, Girls, Mad Men or Game of Thrones). TV is fun.
Books are fun too, but are somehow seen as more time-consuming than television. I’m not sure why–while TV generally demands that you are sitting in the same place for at least a half hour, books can be read anywhere. Please note, as my husband has reminded me on numerous occasions, that they should not be read while you are preparing a meal for your family, one of my favorite reading times/reasons why my meals are occasionally “crisp.”
Thanks to smartphones, Kindles, and iPads, it’s fairly easy to have a book handy wherever you go, including exotic locations like the carpool line or checking out at the supermarket.
If you’re a voracious reader, where there’s a will, there’s a way. If you’re not reading, you’re not doing anything “wrong” per se–unless you want to be reading. In which case, go for it! Here are a few tips:
1. Share Words With Books rather than Words With Friends. I’ve never tried Words With Friends, but was a big fan of Scrabulous and the NY Times online crossword puzzle back in the day. Both were timesucks: activities that I convinced myself were meritorious because they bent my verbal brain. You know what will really bend your brain? Reading about a place you’ve never been, or people utterly dissimilar from yourself. It can be a slow slog, but if you read a page or so during the time you’d be playing games like these (don’t get me started on FarmVille), you’ll be reading more quickly in no time.
2. Join an online book-encouraging app. I’ve just joined GoodReads online–feel free to “friend” me–where you can see what your friends are reading and what they recommend. It’s not only great for ideas, but also to get a new perspective on some of your friends with whom you may have previously only discussed spit-up.
3. Join the Kveller book club. Can’t figure out how to leave the house for an in-person book club? No problem: we at Kveller are here for you! We run an almost-monthly online book club, where we all read the same book and then set up an online discussion and Twitter book party with the author. This month, we are reading Katie Roiphe’s book of essays, In Praise of Messy Lives. Buy it at this Amazon link and a percentage goes to Kveller. We’ll be discussing online the last week of January: join us!
Be sure to check out Jordana’s great list of 10 recent books she’s loved, as well as our favorite books for parents and, specifically, dads.