On Reading- How the hell do you find the time to read?


Inspired by Stephen King’s “On Writing: A memoir of the craft”

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
Stephen King, in his book  On Writing

Many of my friends ping me on Facebook and Instagram with messages ranging from innocuous questions like “Hey, how do you manage the time to read so many books despite holding a day job?”, some nasty comments like “Your job is so cool, you can laze around so much” to encouraging praises like “Keep inspiring us by your reads and travels”.

When I started out with a mission to read more, I scoured the internet on topics like “How to read more books?”, “100 books in a year” etc, and wasted a lot of time on reading techniques and listicles.

After all that research, I devised a “No Bullshit Program” through a trial and error method for my life this year.

  1. Cut the crap out of daily life: I don’t use Facebook anymore to know about others’ lives. My posts on Facebook are usually auto shared through my Instagram posts. I am no longer interested in seeing my friends getting married or engaged. Sure, baby pics of my friends are so cute I swoon over them more than I should. And my greatest distraction is stalking Bookstagrammers on Instagram to see what they are reading, because I’m such a sulker for good Instagram pics. But you should know how to just skim through your feed and not waste time.
  2. Prioritising : I have missed this year’s Sherlock, and no longer know what the latest dystopian reality in Black Mirror is. That’s sad, but I have prioritised on what to focus on, so I make more time reading than watching series or television. (Not going to miss Game of Thrones for anything, though).
  3. Not worrying about mundane stuff: I eat at my blessed office which provides me square meals 4 times a day. No time wasted on cooking, cleaning vegetables, or grocery shopping, more time for reading. But I do water my flower plants daily, they are the only babies I have.
  4. Taking risks: I read while walking on the road on my way to the office, with the risk of being hit by a truck. I read in the local cab, with people thinking I have an exam in college (SRM university is near my office). I read while riding on my friend’s bike with the risk of toppling over. But all these risks are performed by a professional expert, and you must not try them.
  5. Preaching what you practice: Giving up on love literally, for the love of literature. I bully my boyfriend into reading books, so he would let me read peacefully. I bully him into buying me books too, I bully him into editing what I’m writing, I think I bully him all the time. Poor man! Our dates consist of, but are not limited to – going to book fairs, literature meets, or sitting and browsing through travel sites to plan our next big travel. Having a like-minded partner, or beating your existing one to shape the way I do, helps a lot in your journey.
  6. Bear the burden: I carry a physical book wherever I go. You may use a kindle too, but I am a biblichor addict. Also, research says carrying a book with you around makes you appear smarter than you actually can claim to be. So I can finish reading half of my book waiting at the queue outside ATMs these days. Basically, any chance you get, you start reading.
  7. Gamify reading: I have an excel sheet of the books I bought, borrowed and am going to read this year. I have listed 52 books with the tentative dates by which I should finish them. When I finish one ahead of time, I mark it a victory, and gift myself something pretty, like a collector’s edition of a book, or a chocolate pastry. I use goodreads.com to record my reading too, which gives an instant sense of accomplishment .I write a review for each of the books read, whether as a note to myself or to publish in social media. I keep challenges with my boyfriend, and we keep racing against each other like kids to finish a book to win the competition. Gamifying reading motivates you to read more.
  8. Be Jealous: There’s nothing that motivates humans more than envy. I have a dear friend in my office, Anusha, who reads way more than me. Last year she finished 72 books! I managed a meagre 23, shame. I keep stalking her, asking her for reviews and recommendations, and secretly want to read as much as her. This kind of constructive envy can propel you more towards your reading goals. My bf envies me secretly, I know.
  9. Admiration: When my followers on Instagram or friends on Facebook ping me and tell me a certain post was good, I get all welled up with joy. Taking innovative pics of your books, or penning your thoughts down in a diary that you can show to some admirers gives the right dose of masala to keep you moving ahead in the game.
  10. Hunger for more: More than anything else, it’s the desire to read that keeps the soul hungering for more words. My social life is hanging by a bookmark as I no longer socialise or drink or party with random people on weekends. I only spend time with the true and long-standing friends of my life, no matter how far they might be.

Enough for now, I am going to read.

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