Between squeezing in time at the gym, putting in those extra get-that-promotion hours at the office, and getting that precious eight hours of sleep, it can seem practically impossible to find the time to settle down with a good book. But with a couple of good habits, a little creativity, and some of that handy new technology our digital era is so famous for, you can actually manage to read at any hour of the day.
Sure, listening to an audiobook or reading while smashed between commuters might not compare to that romantic image you have of curling up by the fire with a cup of tea and some Amy Tan, but if you’re suffering from book-deprivation, you gotta take what you can get. Besides, what does it matter where and how you’re reading when you’re lost in the pages, traveling through vampire-riddled post-apocalyptic wasteland or defending honor and damsels from big scary windmills? I thought so.
I actually tried this, reading at every hour of the day from sunrise to bedtime, and, aside from being totally awesome and doable, the only side effects were an alarming lack of social interaction and a pretty much non-stop loopy dreamy feeling that you get when you’re doped up on coffee and have spoken fewer than about 10 words to anyone for an entire day.
So, beware, this list will completely annihilate some of your excuses why you “don’t have time to read.”
Wake Up With A Book
Instead of hitting the snooze, or, worse, going straight for your smart phone to check your messages, try waking up with a little early morning reading. You don’t even have to get out of bed right away. Keep a book (and your reading glasses) on your bedside table, and all you’ve got to do is wake up and reach over and next thing you know you’re in a world of dragons and heroes. You’d be amazed how effective this is at waking you up.
Of course, you’ll want to make sure your morning read is actually interesting enough to keep you awake. A thousand-page tome on Building SQL Queries isn’t waking anybody up first thing in the morning. If you’re as lazy as I am, there are some apps that let you set up a podcast as your alarm clock instead of whatever horrible synthetic sound currently set up to blare from your phone at 6 a.m.
Workout With Your Book Out
Audiobooks are a the best thing that ever happened to the busy human. Once upon a time you had to buy individual cassette tapes with your favorite books on them and stick ‘em in your bulky walkman. But with lots of places where audiobooks are available for download (yes, the same titles you've been wanting to read forever), and endless FREE podcasts featuring everything from short stories read by famous contemporary authors to voice actors reading classic fiction, you can load your iPod or smartphone with pretty much any book you want. Librivox.org actually has an insane catalog of free audiobooks made for public domain works! To start, check out The New Yorker Fiction podcast or this awesome list of great audiobooks for workouts.
Shower Reading, It's a Thing
Every book enthusiast knows all the tricks for getting in as much reading as possible before you ultimately have to put it down and take care of the whole bathing thing. You’ve mastered the art of disrobing with one hand while reading, you’ve probably even tried the often disastrous idea of holding the book just outside the curtain with your dry hand.
But there’s an easier way to continue your reading while you shower. Bluetooth shower speakers! Yep. You know your iPhone speakers aren’t loud enough once you’re in the shower. A waterproof speaker that can sync up to your favorite podcast or audiobook on your phone is the answer. Also, in the privacy of the shower, you can totally act out your favorite scenes with no shame. Not that I have ever done this, except for all of the times I absolutely have.
Take the "Mute" Out Of Your Commute
Oh, wow, that was TERRIBLE. Sorry.
Anyway, whether you’re driving or walking or squashed between a suit and the doors on the train, the commute is pretty much the worst part of everyone’s day. Essentially everyone on the morning commute is looking for a reason not to interact with anyone before we’ve all had our first coffee of the day. What better way than a good book to both avoid eye-contact and make the commute less miserable? Regular old bound books are a great idea to avoid staring at someone’s crotch on the train, and there are some particularly fun audiobooks to keep you awake if you’ve got rush hour high way traffic to deal with. .
The Sneaky Read At Work
I know I’m not the only one who steals a few minutes to read my own books at the office, but don’t worry — your secret’s safe with me. I’ve got to say that I’m also kind of a pro at the sneak-read. One word, my friends: tabs.
If you have an office job, having a tab open to Project Gutenberg, a website full of free public domain classic works, is pretty much the slyest way to get your read on when you just can’t take another minute of staring at that spreadsheet. It’s not only a great way to clear your head when you just can’t figure out a problem you’ve been working on for two hours, but it’s also just a matter of two-clicks to look like you’ve been hard at work. If you’re lucky enough to work at a book-friendly office, then nab yourself a handy-dandy book stand, and all you have to do is turn your head!
Take Back Your Lunch Hour
Labor rights activists literally fought for our right to take breaks during the day. Your lunch hour isn’t just the time of day you stuff your face with a burrito while finishing the slides for your presentation with one un-burritoed hand. Taking a break at work is actually really beneficial for so many reasons, including your own health as well as your productivity at work. So take a break and bring a book.
Trade Rush Hour For a Reading
It’s 5 p.m. and the streets are full of disgruntled drivers honking and tailing their way home. Instead of joining in the chaos, why not head over to your local bookstore instead? Most bookstores host readings by famous authors, and many of them are conveniently scheduled at that hour just after the world has emerged from the cubicle. So, check out your local bookstore’s website and see who’s reading! Not only will you get to hear a good story, but you can actually harass the author with some of those theories you had about the protagonist’s motivations.
Cook with a Book... Eat What You Read
Bringing a book near an open flame probably isn’t the best idea in the world. But if you’ve just got to read while you flambé, try hooking up some bluetooth speakers in the kitchen. Or maybe by this point in the day, you could do with a little less reading and a little more discourse. Well, WNIT’s Dinner & a Book is just the thing if you’re looking for some literary cooking inspiration and some dialogue on Frankenstein at the same time.
Master the Blind Fork Maneuver
If you haven't mastered the fragile art of getting the fork to the right place without taking your eyes off the page (or stabbing yourself in the nose with a forkful of mac 'n' cheese), then grab a book stand or throw an audiobook on your portable speakers. Either way, a book is sometimes the best dinner date you can have. Not to mention, this dinner date eases perfectly into that perfect time of night when you can settle in with some sweatpants, a glass of wine, and your favorite book.
Spend Your Evening with Dr. Seuss (and Neil Gaiman!)
If, however, you’re looking for evening entertainment that’s a bit more social, checkout some of your favorite authors and celebrities, like Neil Gaiman, reading children’s stories on YouTube, like Neil Gaiman reading Green Eggs and Ham, or Jeff Kinney reading his own Diary of a Wimpy Kid. And if you’re looking for something a little more… adult, the GreatestAudioBooks channel on YouTube has a whole host of classic fiction audio on YouTube.
Bedtime Reading Is Totally For Adults, Too!
Remember those days when Mom would tuck you in and read you Dick Tracy novels? OK, maybe the Dick Tracy novels were unique to my bizarro (aka insanely awesome) mother, but surely every kid has fond memories of story time. Well, who says 30 is too old for storytime?! I say revive the bedtime story! And it turns out there are apps that let you set a timer on your audio, so you can ease yourself to sleep with dreams of Hogwarts.
And Finally, of Course, There's Always Time to Read When You're Doing... Other Things
Images: Giphy (12)