It’s 3:00 p.m. The kids are quiet(-ish), exiled to their rooms for daily rest time. I have a million things to do.
And yet on a good day—when I ignore my email, get off Twitter, and hide my to-do list—you’ll find me pinned to the sofa (or even better, out on the patio) with a coffee in one hand and a good book in the other.
I’m not wasting time. I’m not being lazy. I’m tending my soul.
I’ve heard the news: Google is melting our brains and we’re not built to read novels anymore. Even blogs are dying (so they say) as our attention spans wither and social media conquers all.
Not built for novels? Books are like air to me.
Reading is my favorite hobby, my go-to introvert refueling strategy, my drug of choice. I couldn’t live without my books. At least, I wouldn’t want to try.
I love social media: it keeps me up-to-date, inspired, entertained, and connected in real and valuable ways. But it doesn’t do what good books do for me.
Books take me to new and exciting places while meeting me right where I am. They encourage empathy (a fancy way of saying they make me a nicer person) by showing me the world through someone else’s eyes, page after page.
A good book won’t let go: it stays with me—for days, weeks, forever. I can’t get the story out of my head; the characters feel like friends. The best books ask me hard questions, very gently, and compel me to keep coming back.
And in our fast-moving age, my books don’t demand an instant reply. Instead, they give me space to sit with my own thoughts, giving this slow processor room to ponder at leisure and in depth.
I’ve always loved to read, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed some strategies to make a good thing even better.
7 tips for making the most of your reading time (and making more of it):
1. Always have a good book (or three) handy.
2. Keep a to-be-read list (paper or digital; I like Goodreads). Deciding what to read next is the hardest part.
3. Build that list! Need ideas? There are tons of bloggers out there with great taste in books. Find one whose taste matches yours and get ready to take notes. Update: I have a whole podcast dedicated to helping you find what to read next!
4. Plan ahead for longer reading sessions, but seize the spare minutes. Read a few pages in the grocery checkout line, while the coffee brews, or instead of checking email, again. (Hint: try the Kindle app for your smart phone.) Those pages add up!
5. Allow yourself the pleasure of a good reading binge. We’re all familiar with the Netflix binge (so much fun, right?). Next time try it with books. Ben and Jerry’s optional.
6. If you hate what you’re reading, put it down. Grown-ups don’t have to finish books they’re not enjoying.
7. Love what you love, and don’t feel guilty about it. Seriously.
I’m not too worried about us all giving up on novels anytime soon.
Reading is alive and well, and I’m grateful for the amazing people I’m able to connect with—on the internet!—who share my passion for books (even the paper kind), are always eager to talk about what they’re reading, and keep piling fabulous-sounding titles on to my to-be-read list.
Social media is killing books? I’m not buying it.