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Reading For Pleasure? Who Has the Time for That Anymore?

Thursday, January 10, 2013


By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

I have a board over on Pinterest titled: "I Love Reading." And some of my favorite pins are the ones bemoaning the desire to have more reading time like the above pin and then these two (pin credits from Belcastro Agency)

 
And even though we can chuckle over the pins and dream about having endless hours of uninterrupted reading time, the reality is that many of us struggle to find time to read for pleasure.

And when we do finally make the time, we feel slightly guilty for sitting down and opening up a book.

We're nagged by thoughts of all the hundreds of other things we could (or should) be doing instead of reading (like mending or cleaning or laundry or any other 101 daily responsibilities!).

The truth is, with the busy nature of life, it's all too easy to let reading time take a back burner, isn't it? 

But the other truth that I've learned over the years is that there will ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS be something demanding our attention. When we complete one task, another will be waiting for us. Our modern culture is a harsh task master with never-ending to-do lists. We're bombarded with the message that the busier we are the better off we'll be.

So we get ourselves and our kids involved in everything we possibly can until we're running ourselves ragged. We're on the go most of the time, our homes get neglected, and our down-time turns into staring at the TV screen because we're too tired to do anything else.

Reading for pleasure? *Insert high-pitched, witch-like cackle* Who has the time for that these days?

As we kick off the new year of 2013, I'd like us to all make the resolution to RECLAIM OUR TIME.

We need to make the time in our lives for reading and other small pleasures. (You can be sure I'm pointing the finger at myself because I need to do this too!)

We need to add white space back in to our lives that have become over-crowded. Even if many of those activities and things are good, we still need to build down-time into our schedules. If we don't create enough white space, those good things may become burdensome. We may even end up loathing the things we once loved because we've let them drain us until we're empty.

Can we go so far as to say that if we don't add in white space—quiet, meditative, sedentary time—to our daily (or perhaps weekly) schedules, we run the risk of increasing physical and mental health breakdowns?

Does that mean it's safe to say that reading is actually a pleasure we can't ignore? That perhaps it's even good for our health?

Maybe instead of saying "Reading for Pleasure? Who has the time for that?" we should be saying "Reading for Pleasure? You can't afford NOT to make the time."

One final pin that I really love (pin credit from: 4 Ways to Find More Margin in Your Day):



What about you, dear readers? Do YOU ever feel guilty for reading? Why or why not? Do you agree that many of us need to clear more white space into our lives, including more time for pleasure reading?

53 comments:

  1. 'Do YOU ever feel guilty for reading?'

    Absolutely! And I thought I was the only one.

    'nagged by thoughts of all the hundreds of other things we could (or should) be doing instead of reading (like mending or cleaning or laundry or any other 101 daily responsibilities!).'

    *Sigh* :-) Love your honesty in this post, Jody. Thanks for sharing and have a nice day!

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  2. Most definitely I feel guilty for reading...not only because of all the housework, etc. that I should be doing but also I feel I should be putting that time into writing or reading that next writing craft book instead of reading for pleasure.

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  3. I feel guilty about a lot of my leisure activities, but never reading. Partially because I know that the best way for my kids to grow up as readers is for them to see their parents sitting down and enjoying a book at any time. So when I'm reading, I'm not just indulging a personal hobby, I'm setting a good example for my kids!

    Plus I get pretty ugly when I go too long without reading, so I think my family would prefer it if I let some of the housework slide in favor of a good book.

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    1. EXCELLENT point, Louise. It goes with what Cynthia Washburn said below. Our children need to see that reading is important to us. As the old saying goes, "More is caught than taught." If we never take the time to read, how can we expect our children to do so? :-)

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  4. Yes, I feel guilty...but it doesn't stop me! I bring my current book whenever I go to appointments and spend the waiting time reading. I read before I go to bed. I am more likely to read then watch TV, which is why I am so woefully (and happily) ignorant of most of the current "pop" TV trends. If we consider that reading enriches our minds...can we find a way to cast off the guilt?

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    1. Bless you, Lizza! I couldn't agree more. I don't watch TV either.

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    2. SO true, Liza! Reading is more than simple entertainment. We're working our brains when we read and that is SO valuable!

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  5. Ah yes, I'm with Liza. I read rather than watch TV most nights. So yes, I read without feeling guilty (just don't ask me about the latest movie that released). Also I use my kindle's text-to-speach option a lot and listen to stories while I do dishes and fold laundry (when the house isn't too chaotic, that is).

    However, sometimes I feel guilty for reading, and that's usually when I get swept up in a book and CAN'T PUT IT DOWN. Then I feel guilty because housework and sometimes even my kids get ignored for a book, and I'm not really comfortable with doing that.

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    1. Oh, I hadn't thought of using the text-to-speech option on my Kindle! That's a great idea Naomi!

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  6. I do a lot of my reading in small snippets of time. I read a few minutes in the morning, with a cup of coffee before the rest of the family wakes up. I grab a burger for lunch and drive to a park where I sit in my car and read, while eating. Then I fall asleep, book in hand, catching a few more pages.

    It's not just for pleasure...it's also for peace of mind...for education...for new perspectives...

    Reading is a vital part of this life I love!

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    1. Hey Joe! I find that having my books available on my kindle and ipod make reading more accessible to me in a variety of places. Like you, I can snatch a few minutes of reading here and there between activities. The snippets don't satisfy my voracious appetite, but at least it's something! :-)

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  7. We writers need to remember that reading is really doing "double duty" for us. It's not just pleasure alone. When we read we are learning, picking up what authors do (or should have done). We are putting style and voice possibilities in our heads. I advocate, as Ray Bradbury did, reading poetry regularly, to stretch those voice muscles. Been listening to Leaves of Grass on audio (that's another way to get the pleasure reading in).

    Also, read good non-fiction. Pleasurable, yes, but also opens up new vistas of knowledge and understanding, which in turn find their way into our fiction via theme and deeper characterizations.

    As writers, we cannot afford NOT to read!

    Also: don't be afraid to put down a book. If it isn't doing it for you, you're under no obligation to finish it. I can pretty much tell after 10 or 20 pages whether I will get anything out of the book worth savoring.

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  8. Yes, but I do it anyway ;) Love that top picture, Jody.

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  9. I agree with Mr. Bell. For writers, reading is not just a pleasure, but a way to continue building your skills. I have had inspiration moments for my own stories while reading another author's novel. Sometimes I notice a beautiful analogy or turn of phrase that spurs me on to create my own quality writing instead of letting myself get lazy with the craft.

    As for squeezing it in, I have built time for it into my schedule. But to beat the guilt, I combine it with other activities. Reading is my motivational force to exercise. I read while walking on the treadmill each morning. (So far, I've never fallen off.) Audible books are great too, especially when that housework can't be put off any longer. I also keep a book by my chair so that even when I'm watching TV with my husband, I can still read on commercials.

    I've been a book worm too long to give up the habit.

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    1. Love the various ways you squeeze in reading time, Karen! I listen to a lot of books with my kids, particularly during meals. But I really want to try some audible books for myself this year. Because you're right. We're so inspired when we read. It provides a way to open our brains and get our own creativity churning.

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  11. I think that I should really make use of my free time on Reading. As a student, it is really a good opportunity to broaden our mind and experience the world. Household can wait :D

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  12. (I'll try again. I wanted to make a correction but ended up having to delete)

    I think reading is a habit acquired in childhood and youth for the most part and, sad to say, I think it has been replaced by video games for many children, especially boys. In my school, there are only a couple of 'readers' in each class on average. Reading has so many academic benefits in addition to the sheer pleasure it provides. I always encourage parents to try to make readers out of their children.

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    1. Thank you for your wonderful insight, Cynthia!! I think that voracious adult readers probably DID get a great start in their childhood. But I hope it's never too late for adults to rehabilitate and learn to become enthralled readers! :-)

      And you're right about video games taking up a lot of kids' free time (along with TV and videos)! As a parent of 5, I've had an uphill battle (like most parents) to protect my children against TOO much screen time. It's a constant struggle!

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  13. Yep, like others have said, my reading time has suffered lately. I have soooo many books to read and soooo little time with working full time and writing in the evenings. But last night, I took a break from the writing to read all evening and it felt gooooood. ;)

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  14. I have to make time for reading, otherwise, my writing dries up. I kind of picture it like a well of words. If I empty them onto the page all day, I need somewhere to refill them--and that's reading. It's always a challenge to make myself take the time (especially when I'm constantly under deadline) but it's important. Part of the way I keep myself on track is joining yearly reading challenges. This year I joined the Fifty-Fifty challenge (so fifty books and fifty movies) in a year. I did it last year and almost made it, so I'm trying again this year. Good luck with finding your reading time as well!

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    1. Love the idea of a yearly challenge, Roni! I know GoodReads also has a yearly challenge that all readers can participate in. It's kind of like having an accountability partner, except for reading.

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  15. I feel guilty too! But I do it anyway. I've always been able to read a lot of non-fiction and magazines because I can set them down and come back to them, but fiction is a different animal.

    I miss reading as much fiction as I used to. Last year, I decided to read more fiction and I did! This year, I'm continuing!

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  16. Oh dear Jody ... you hit the nail on the head today!! I feel guilty every time I pick up a book! My time is so limited that if I have "white space" I feel I need to write. But sometimes, that book is just aching to be opened and my brain is so dead in regards to writing. So does this mean i have permission to take a break??? :) :) :) :)

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  17. I totally feel guilty when I'm reading! But even then, as soon as I finish a book, I can't wait to start a new one... I've been looking at it like a bad habit that I need to kick, but you're totally right - it's okay to read for pleasure, and it's probably even good for me. :)

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  18. I never feel guilty for reading - it's my way of unwinding after my day's activities and everyone is entitled to do that - in fact it is imperative we all find some way to unwind to make us more productive. Plus, even when I am reading fiction,I can always learn something from the books I read.

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  19. Do I feel guilty? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I've been a reader since as far back as I can remember. In elementary school I got top reader awards all the time. Librarian didn't know how I could read so many!

    Last year, I set a goal for myself. Read at least 75 books a year - any format. I knew I'd let my pleasure reading slip, but didn't realize how much until I set the goal. And I do what Joe does, a little reading here and there throughout the day. I usually have three books going at the same time. Then there are the times where the books take over and everything else just has to wait! :)

    I also agree with James. Reading more as I learn the craft of writing has helped make the concepts easier to understand and instead of just thinking I didn't like the book, I can more easily decipher what about the book I don't like - voice, syntax, lack of plot, etc.

    Reading is almost like breathing for me.

    Melanie

    PS Just finished Preacher's Bride. Loved it.

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    1. Thank you for the kind words about The Preacher's Bride, Melanie! Appreciate it! :-)

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  20. I feel guilty and selfish if I go to the salon and get my hair done. But buying books and reading, No guilt! It's the best escape.

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  21. I never feel guilty about reading - I tell myself and anyone who asks that it's important research for writing - but I feel guilty about buying books and never going to a library.

    I've actually got to the point now where I put reading on my to-do list, like I do with writing, to make sure I set some time aside to do it. Since I started, I've been reading more and generally feeling better, probably because I watch less awful day-time tv...

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  22. I don't usually feel guilty for reading. Unless something very important goes by the wayside. But I don't feel like I read as much as I want. Of course, I cut down on my TV time and Facebook/computer surfing time so I can read. No games for me and only two prime time shows a week. I guess it's a matter of balance. And we all need something to do to unwind.

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  23. I can't go to sleep without reading. In ever circumstance!

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  24. As we kick off the new year of 2013, I'd like us to all make the resolution to RECLAIM OUR TIME.

    I love this idea. Sadly, I can't see any way to make it happen. When you work full time and try to write full time and have a family that actually expects some of your time, 'me' time goes the way of the Dodo. It's why I listen to audiobooks. I'd consume pretty much no fiction if I didn't have audiobooks. *hugs iPod*

    But I totally understand your point. There has to be a better way, but I confess, I don't know what it is.

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    1. Ah, Jen! I hear you on how hard it is to reclaim our time. As my kids have gotten older and involved in more, it's gotten even worse. But I keep striving to simplify and carve small pockets of pleasure into my life! :-)

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  25. I absolutely refuse to feel guilty for reading! I come from a family of readers. My mama took me to the library when I was 3 years old and she bought me a Little Golden Book every grocery shopping day, which was once a week. She herself read when she could, which wasn't a lot because she was raising 2 kids alone after being abandoned by her husband.
    After she retired, she read all the time.

    I read all night long many a night when I was first married, only putting down my book when my husband got up to go to work. I read to my daughter in utero, too. She is an avid reader also. So is my brother.

    I am never without a book, be it my Nook or one in my purse when I leave the house. You never know when you'll be stuck in traffic or at a doctor's office.

    Reading is my favorite thing to do in all the world. I have devotion books everywhere in my house, too; one in the living room, bedroom, several in our prayer room and several in the bathroom. I can read ANYWHERE!!! I always read eating my lunch, too. It's a wonderful pleasure and I thank God for giving me eyes to see to read and for great Christian writers like you!!

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    1. Susan, YOU are an inspiration!! And your mother is too! What a wonderful story to hear about how your mother developed that love of reading within you (I remember you sharing that over on FB and I just loved it!). It's a great reminder to all of us the power we have in helping our children develop a passion for books! Thank you for sharing your passion here on my blog today! :-)

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  26. Jody:
    Thank you for this post––right on!
    I appreciated the comments leading up to mine. They are all thumbs up! Our home has bookcases in every room (haven't converted to e-reading and an invisible divining rod leads me to any bookshop to scoop up more ). I traded in my night stand for a table to better hold books and literary journals to be caught up (an impossible situation). We have a TV mostly for Olympics, sports, Netflix movies (not necessarily in that order), and all because I was weaned on books.
    Reading is and has been for all my life my breath in, my breath out.
    As a writer, I very much appreciated J.S. Bell's affirmation of reading and writing, and I know you've posted similar comments in the past.
    I, too, have book-related Boards on Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/fldsf). It's where I bring in from the world and send back out my own book devotion. Maybe we should all be designated Ambassadors of Reading Books.

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  27. I used to feel quilty because every time I would try to read my husband or grown daughters would interrupt me for some reason. But 6 yrs ago I started having the worst ever stomach ache 24/7. So I went to an osteopathetic manupulator Dr. about a yr ago, who told me they want me to read at least 1 hr a night before bed. Reading is a good destressor and some nights I don't get to, but I try to read at least that much most nights.

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    1. Wonderful to hear that even doctors are recognizing the benefit to reading! Love it! :-)

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  28. I have reached the stage in life where there is just the two of us, so keeping the home in order isn't quite the task it used to be...less laundry, less time straightening up, etc. In all honesty though it wasn't until about a year ago when our son and daughter-in-law gifted us with a Kindle that I began devouring books left and right! That is actually how I found YOU, Jody! Inspired reads offered The Preacher's Bride as a free download. I shared with you shortly after reading it just what an impact it had on me. When I think of some of the useless ways I would spend my time and then weigh that against reading truly good literature I came to realize that what I should feel guilty about was the time I'd wasted doing other things instead of reading. I like to read to enrich my mind and my spirit. So whether that be through the great classics, historical accounts, historical novels, or novellas I enjoy knowing that they are helping me to increase my knowledge...expand my own world a bit...without ever leaving my home! I love reading books that have been written with such passion that the story actually draws me out of myself to the point that when I finish reading the book I miss the characters! When I read The Preacher's Bride I would have to put it down for an hour or so and mull over what I'd read, but I couldn't wait to pick it back up again to get some more food for thought. I have such a new appreciation for being born in a country where I still have the privilege to practice my religious rights...and am so thankful for the Puritans and men like John Bunyan! Unending Devotion was the same way...it gave me insight in to how people of that time period looked at different industries and the way they could rationalize the sinful acts that were brought about by their industry. Yet again, how greed was what caused them to rationalize. I'll always be interested in reading your books because they make me think, as well as cause me to search my own heart. It's incredible to me how God uses your pen, Jody. I'm so thankful for it!

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    1. Loved hearing your perspective! That's true that even if we DO have the time, we can waste in on other things that are less edifying. There really are so many great books to choose from, that are uplifting and educational and a joy to read. So glad you found me through a free download of The Preacher's Bride! Thanks for the very sweet words of encouragement! :-)

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  29. Maybe I don't have more time to read because I'm on Pinterest. ;-) It has been fun creating a Pinterest board for my WIP though.

    I have a hard time reading fiction for pleasure because I dissect the plot, POV, dialogue, etc. I guess I'm just applying everything I'm learning in the craft of writing books that I read. I especially like to read the first page of novels to see how the author begins the drama. Since I'm working on sending my first 20 pages for critique, I'm a sponge that wants to absorb all I can in this regard, so I can hook my readers immediately.

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  30. I don't tend to feel guilty about reading - I feel guilty if I have to return books to the library unread. I tend to read before bedtime and a couple of times a day on the weekend.

    What I do have to carve time out for, and I feel guilty about all the time... is writing!

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  31. I love your pinterest board!

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  32. Happy New Year, Jody!
    I love this blog post -- it resonates with me.
    I blogged on the same topic -- the need to read, the desire to read, but having not time (or rather, not making the time) -- just yesterday.
    And I love your encouragement to make "white space" in our lives. I shared it with the My Book Therapy community tonight during a PepTalk,
    As always, you are a wise woman!

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  33. Read great books is inspiration for writing, so I treat it like part of my job. I usually have two books going at any time-- a "for pleasure" book and a craft book, a little self-education. I love my Kindle because then I can take my books with me where ever I go. Waiting no longer upsets me--I just read.

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  34. I don't feel guilty when reading, except when I know it's late and I should have gone to sleep already, because I know that staying up too late all but guarantees that I'll have less patience with my kids the next day. So in general, no guilt for reading, but guilt when I am reading instead of sleeping. :)

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  35. Wonder full blog.
    I’d like some advice too. Dr. Luis Fandos was born in Argentina where he finished his studies as Medical Doctor at the University of Rosario. He pursued a dream to study medicine in the United States and, ultimately went on to complete his anesthesia and critical care residency at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.
    Thanks for sharing.....

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  36. I felt the same way about reading for pleasure. I thought "Reading? I'm supposed to writing, I can't waste time reading!" Then I discovered two wonderful solutions. First, I started reviewing books, which made reading them seem like an obligation. I no longer have to feel like I'm neglecting something in order to read. Second, Kindle text-to-speech. If you can get past the robot voice (they're getting a lot better), you can listen to is as if it were an audiobook. I turn it on while I'm doing housework and actually enjoy multitasking for once.

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    1. Great ideas! I haven't reviewed books, but I am judging books for a contest and so that is definitely an obligation to read! And I couldn't get over the robot voice of the Kindle text-to-speech (maybe I need to give it another try!) But I have been using audible books for my ipod, which are VERY reasonably priced if you've already purchased the Kindle book. In fact, a few are even free, like Jane Eyre which I'm currently listening to. And like you said, it takes some of the "chore" out of chores! :-)

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