Had a little drop-by visit from our cooking pal, Protege this morning for a cozy sort of catch-up and then a good dose of more sunshine, yard romping and eventually, lots of wonderful cooking such as blossoms from such inspiration.
While I was cooking and we were visiting, Protege started thumbing through my cookbook stacks and fingering pages and asking me about my favorite culinary tomes. I ticked off all my favorite, favorites on my fingers and then wandered off into, "But...I also really like...." And she laughed at my salivary tone and my endless list. Books are a hard topic to get me to limit and can be a bit of Rabbit-Trail-Central as one book or topic naturally leads in my mind to another and pretty soon I'm worming my way from my favorite books on bread-making to child psychology and then juvie lit classics. In short, I like to read. A lot.
I've had lots of people ask me how I read. And its a good question. Lots of people just aren't readers or they think of reading as vacation past-time or a thing they liked to do for fun when they were in their teens but, they can't imagine how it fits into adult life, let alone motherhood. Well, there are ways.
Some of what I've had to do in order to stay an avid reader is adaptive and some of it is pure luck and some is even modern technology...every little bit helps. But, I really think that if you want to be/stay/become a reader...you can...no matter how old you are or how busy you are.
Here's how it works for me:
When I become a wife and then really when I became a mom I became a fragmented reader. This sounds like a bad thing but for me its a matter of survival as a book lover. I read several books at once and I read small snatches here and there. The old days of sitting numbly with a book, turning page after page until the words swim and your eyes sting are pretty much gone for me at the moment. (Much as I did love those days!)
Lately, I have a book stationed pretty much anywhere around the house where I might find myself with a few minutes to kill: at my bedside, next to the rocking chair in the boys room, on the kitchen counter, in the car, next to the living armchair, and even occasionally (don't tell!) in the bathroom. I read whatever book is handy wherever I am when I have a moment or two. Sometimes I only get through a page but, its progress! And with so many books on the boil I am always close to finishing and just starting something which makes me feel ever progressive.
Common times in my day-to-day life when I find I can work in a snatch of reading include:
- Nap times...the part where I am waiting for the boys to actually go to sleep (at the moment I sit in the room with them because they will actually go to sleep if I sit there and supervise and verbally remind them to lay down and not talk and close eyes...etc.). It helps them go to sleep more quickly if I am not available for chatting but, just "there" enough to make sure they know they are supervised, a book is my technique for creating this distance.
- I read during little moments of downtime in the kitchen...waiting for the 2 more minutes I put on the timer because the bread wasn't quite done, while the spinach wilts in a pan, while I wait for the potato water to boil, while the oil heats for sauteing, etc. etc...there are no end of mini-waiting moments in the kitchen. (Just as an aside, often the reading that happens during little kitchen breaks is storybook reading because the boys are often eagerly underfoot hoping for a little attention....and that's good reading too but, sometimes they're happily flipping through a book alone or busy in the living room with blocks and then I'm flipping pages on my own.)
- I often read while A gets ready for bed. I am a simple wash and wear kind of girl...brush my teeth and braid my hair (and often I get my tooth-brushing down while A is putting the boys to bed) so then its just throwing on my pajamas and braiding my hair while A has to take his contacts out, brush, floss, wash his face, apply lip balm, rub in his special hand lotion...etc. etc. So, I huddle under the covers and read, read, read while I wait for him. Sometimes this reading is done out loud because we're reading something together (which means I read it aloud to both of us with occasional pauses for discussion).
- Nursing. Nursing is reading gold. I am not currently nursing anybody so this reading window is gone from my life at the moment but, it'll be back in just a couple months and boy do I look forward to snuggling/nursing/book time. I always have had a pretty easy time nursing (remember what I said about an element of luck?) and so, I am hands free or at least one hand free while the baby tanks up so, I read! I find that I am less impatient with the baby eating at his/her leisure and taking their sweet time if I have some wonderful book in my hands. I get a lot more reading done when I have a tiny new one at my house (as antithetical as that sounds).
- Various forms of car down-time are good reading time for me...the boys are napping, we're driving through Ohio on a roadtrip and A is on the phone with his brother....so, I read. Another common variation is while I'm waiting for an oil change to be completed or while we're sitting in the mechanic's office for repairs. A and I always read together whenever we're on a road-trip too...we pick out a book we'd both like to tackle and I read aloud while he drives...not straight, there's time for conversation or music listening or just looking out the window too but, it helps us stay awake during the drowsy afternoon hours or when we're pushing an after dark deadline and trying to make sure we don't fall asleep.
- I read while I'm on hold on the phone, when I'm in the doctor's waiting room, while the boys play at the park and when we're waiting for A at the train station....in short...I read a lot but, in snatches. I'm just a total opportunist...I grab my snatches whenever and wherever I can.
That fact aside, I really do think that anyone can work reading into their life. All of us have these little moments and if reading isn't as important to you as it is to me perhaps you might wish to only devote one small window of your day to reading, say just when you're putting your kids down for a nap...even that little bit will eventually be the way to chisel your way through more words, stories, knowledge and adventure than you're consuming now. More is always more!
So, that's the long and short of how I make it work. I also enjoy other things in those little windows of downtime occasionally (music, radio, internet and phone calls) and once in a while we go on vacation and I spend solidly, leisurely afternoons reading on the couch in the sunshine while the boys sleep. But, the real day-to-day how of my reading is above, its not about excessive or tricks of the eye, its just bite-sized bits wherever I can catch them.
Other little reading bits I love:
GoodReads...you can see the list of my latest conquests I've recorded on this site in the sidebar column on the left and click on over if you're curious enough to read my reviews. I use this site to keep track of what I've read, when I read it and what I thought of the material. *grateful nod to Jane here for her leading me to the site*
Amazon....Ah Amazon, Amazon...where would book lovers like me be without you! I use Amazon all the time. I look up books, authors or topics I'm hearing about or otherwise interested in and avidly read the gobs of reviews the site provides to vet my potential reading list additions. My reading wishlist is full of the things I'm hoping to read or buy soon. Feel free to take a gander if you're curious. (Be warned, its crazy long!)
Alibris is a great place to go for those obscure books that are out-of-print and hard to find today...the kind of stuff your Grandma had that you always wished you had a copy of yourself. Very handy for people who like old stuff. (ahem)
Bookmooch is a great site where you can swap books you have that you don't want for books other people have that they don't want....everyone posts their wishlists and the system lets you know if somebody has one of your wishes available for claiming...all you're out is shipping. Pretty cool.
And one of my favorite online reader tools is my local library's website...I can check my due dates, renew online, browse the catalog (with my Amazon list in the next tab for handy reference) and my most favorite of all...I can request books they don't have through inter-library loan. I was a grown-up before I learned about inter-library loans and it rocked my world. Basically, the idea is that any book your local library doesn't have they'll search through the library network in your whole state and see if somebody else has it (the answer is almost always by the time you search that many databases) and then they'll put in a request at that library to have it sent to your local branch for you to pick up and take home. So lovely of them!
And that folks...is how I read. May you do the same.