Thursday, March 8, 2012

Literary Blog Hop: Finding the time

I've got a stack of three books waiting for posts to be written about them; but it's late, I've got a great big chunk of prayers yet to say tonight (short explanation: lent), and I've completely failed at posting anything so far this week -- so let's have another meme.

Literary Blog Hop

The question is... How do you find time to read, what's your reading style and where do you think reading literature should rank in society's priorities? 

My primary reading time is on the train. I have a short (ten minute) train ride from home to my primary archives, but I often end up waiting 10-20 minutes for that train, and as long as it's not raining and I'm not in a bad mood or something, that's enough time to be worth getting the book out. Trains into central locations tend to come more frequently, but then it's something like 20-30-40 minutes depending on the destination.

Reading on the train, particularly with a short commute, takes effort. You have to remember to bring a book with you, and the book has to be interesting enough to make you dig for it in your bag. I've posted here before that I know I hate a book when I find myself choosing to stare at the ads! I also sometimes read over coffee/tea in the afternoon or at lunch. 

This all sounds like I'm snatching bits of time here and there but it's actually more like these are the times that I give myself to read. Being "self-directed" means that technically, technically, I could just stay home tomorrow in my pajamas and blaze through a couple of novels. But that's not a helpful thought; so I tell myself that books are for odd bits of time like eating or commuting. (Although the combination of reading, drinking coffee/tea, and eating something is sort of my default weekend plan.) My current challenge isn't so much reading as my new skill of knitting, which I have to find some kind of rational timeslot for so that I don't just stay home in my pajamas all day practicing knitting!

As for reading style, I am definitely plot-driven. Blah blah blah description, whatever, let's get on with it. I don't remember when I realized this, but I was a little embarrassed. It seemed sort of... anti-intellectual or something. But it doesn't bother me (much) anymore; and I've started to correct some things I didn't like about my love-em-and-lose-em reading style -- for example, my aversion to ever re-reading things.

Reading as a hobby is a tricky thing, because reading is so important -- as a foundational skill, and also in terms of being exposed to ideas etc. -- and yet it is (or can be) a very solitary activity. Oh sure, book clubs and book blogs; I'm not saying it's completely isolating. But it does mean spending time alone, which not everyone wants to make a priority on a regular basis. Hobbies/interests can go in cycles; for a few years, maybe the bulk of your time and money goes to books, but then maybe it's concerts or crafts or video games or something. Maybe you get bored with the type of books you've been reading and get stuck for something new, and end up taking a break for a while. At least that's how I see it! The way I read now is nothing like when I was a kid, when I really did just spend all my time outside of school and drama club in my room reading (not an exaggeration) (warning: this is not a good way to develop social skills). I guess what I'm getting at is that I am sympathetic to people who "don't read much these days".


  1. I'm going to comment on something a little off topic from your post here. I like to knit, and went through a phase where I loved to knit. I did while watching TV, and also I would take my knitting to the movies. Unfortunately I never found a comfortable way to read and knit, which would be pretty ideal.

  2. Knitting-that's on my list of things to learn. Can I teach myself how to knit? About rereading-I love it. I like your comments about pulling the book out of the bag, and that brings up the whole issue of buying purses and bags with book-holding capacity as the main criteria....


    Man, the knitting thing is getting as much play as Red's post did with commuting.

    Also, this was a well-structured post. Also you need to post pictures of Londoning. This is when using facebook would be good, O Lenter.

  4. Very true; not everybody wants to spend time alone and it is a solitary activity and when I need to be off by myself, I just pull out whatever book I have on hand. For example, my family and I were waiting for a table at a restaurant recently. I didn't really want to chat and wasn't in a chatty mood, so I just pulled out my e-reader and read while we waited for the table.

  5. Knitting and commuting. Big things for book bloggers.

    Totally agree about reading being such a solitary activity and sometimes you just want some social interaction. I've seen several people talk about how much they like sitting with a group of people and everyone is reading their own book. I couldn't do that. I love reading but I would be the ass interrupting everyone every few minutes.

  6. Of course you can make the most of your knitting time and have a book on your lap, too? Or an audiobook? I used to watch tv, while knitting and with a book on my lap. I don't think it worked very well but I used to like the idea.

    Judith from

    1. If *technically* I could stay home tomorrow and blaze through a couple of novels, I totally would, so I admire you self-directed types who can resist temptation and live productive lives.

  7. Making time to read has always been a priority but I completely get what you mean by hobbies coming and going. I have several that fluctuate or as I put it, may be put on the back burner for a while. Keeping with the analogy, I think reading is kept on a constant simmer and depending on the novel may reach boiling point every now and then.