Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Reading for Fun: Practical Ways to Make it Happen

As many of you have probably gathered, I love to read, and I believe that reading is an important activity. I've discussed about how I don't "have time" to read, and I firmly believe that a mindset shift is extremely helpful in realizing that no matter how busy we are, we can make time to read.
This is all fine and good, but what does it look like in the practical sense? What does reading "for fun" involve when one's days are occupied with family life and work? What strategies can we employ to make leisure reading happen regularly? 

1. Keep a book handy and use "small moments" to read a few pages or a chapter at a time.
One of the books I'm currently reading typically sits on the kitchen counter, where it is visible and easily accessible. Then, if my toddler spontaneously starts playing or reading by himself (!!!) or if I'm waiting for a pot of water to boil for dinner, I can easily grab and peruse my book for the few minutes of "down time" that I have. If you're going to an appointment or picking up the kids from school, bring a book with you-that way, if you have a couple minutes where you're sitting around in a waiting room or waiting for the school bell to ring, you can read.

2. Use a timer to designate "reading time." 
If my child goes down for a nap or when he goes to bed at night, I sometimes will set a timer for 20 minutes and just start reading. Yes, there may be housework or other things that I "need" to do, but taking those 20 minutes to recharge won't cause the world to implode. How many times do we find ourselves with a couple minutes of free time and decide to "just check e-mail"...only to find ourselves blowing the next 20 or 30 minutes online? Perhaps you think you can only manage 5 or 10 minutes. If so, please don't let that stop you from reading. Set your timer, read for the allotted time, and then get back to your other activities. 

3. Ask yourself how you'll make reading a priority.
Don't relegate leisure reading to the "I'll do it if the time magically appears" category. When the day begins, ask yourself when you're going to read more of that riveting book you just picked up from the library. Think of a way that you will try to read just a few pages each day. When my husband asks me each evening what I'd like to do before bed, I've learned that it's OK to say "I really want to read for a few minutes" instead of just focusing on the seemingly-endless list of things I need to get done. 

4. Set aside a day or time each week as "electronics-free." 
For Lent one year, my husband and I set aside one day each week as a time to not engage in "non-essential electronics" until a certain point in the evening. We've continued this practice, and while it has helped bring some rest, peace, and prayer into my day, it's also created an environment of silence in which reading can happen fairly easily. If I have a period of free time, since I know that I can't just go online or listen to a podcast, I find myself grabbing a book more frequently than on other days. 

I frequently bring a book along when we visit a local fenced-in playground, because I can
usually spend a little time reading while my son plays.

Some additional tips:

*It can be easy (and so-very-tempting) to cling to images of reading for hours at a time as a child and think that this idyllic scenario is the only way in which reading can happen. However, we cannot live in a fantasy world or the past. We need to live and operate in the present moment, and we need to work with whatever our circumstances are. 

*I used to think that I needed to finish every single book that I started reading. Yet, my reading time is precious to me, and I've realized that it's just not practical for me to spend my time reading books that I'm not invested in. If a book is filled with a lot of content that I don't like or just isn't pulling me in after about three or four chapters, I'll take it back to the library and move onto the rest of my list. 

*Audiobooks are widely used by many people, and if they are awesome if that works for you! Listen to those audiobooks and enrich your mind. I personally have a harder time focusing on a novel-length story if it's in audio form, so I do not use audiobooks very often. Plus, listening to an audiobook while I wash dishes or make dinner is not the same experience as curling up into a chair with a good book :) 

*If you want to read more, then you need to have books sitting around which  you can read. Visit your local library and grab some books that look interesting or that the librarian recommends (seriously, talk to your local librarian! Librarians have such a huge wealth of knowledge and information and have given me some great book and show recommendations). Seriously, if you are taking your kids to the library, don't just pick up books for them; make sure to pick up at least one book for yourself! Ask your friends for recommendations. Join a Well-Read Mom group or other book club. 

I hope these tips are helpful to some of you! If you have any other ideas on practical ways to incorporate leisure reading into daily life, please do share them! 


  1. Yes!! Great tips. Putting the phone down is big, and taking advantage of little moments instead of the dreamy whole afternoon especially. It’s so great that you find creative ways to make reading a priority!

  2. Curling up with a good book and a good snack has been my idea of perfection for as long as I can remember! These days, reading mostly happens while Cyrus is eating, but I also sneak in sessions here and there, a little bit after he goes to sleep if I can manage to stay up that late, haha!...as long as I have a good book lying around, it's just naturally going to get read. I can't resist.