How do you read so much?

I’ve seen some posts on this tweet (“According to my records I read 462 books in 2008”).  I am not sure how many books I read in 2008 because I got lazy about tracking them, but I do average about a book a day.  I am often asked how.  Here’s my answer:

1. I don’t have a TV set up in my apartment.  This doesn’t mean I think TV is evil or I never watch it; in fact, my habit is to get obsessed with a TV show and watch a season a week.  (Right now I’m on the fourth season of what is at least my fifth run through The West Wing.)  What it does mean, though, is that I don’t turn on the TV when I get on and have it on in the background, I don’t have appointment TV (even for Lost, because I watch it online), and I don’t end up sitting down to watch L&O with dinner and end up sitting there until 11, which is what I did in college.   In other words, I have to watch TV on purpose.  This is probably the main way I make time for reading and writing.

2. I’m an obsessive reader.  If a book is anything more than very good, I find it nearly impossible to go to bed without finishing it.  There’s a reason I chose the name bookavore.  It’s the book equivalent of binge eating.

3. I’m not very good about doing household chores on a regular basis.  I’ve gotten better, but on the priority list it’s WAY below reading.

4. I read on my way to work, since it’s all sidewalks.  I expect to keep this habit after the move.  I start reading about a minute after I wake up, before I do anything else, to get my head back into the real world.  I read when waiting for people in bars, I read in line at the bank, I read on my lunch break.  It’s just the way I am. I am routinely shocked that I had to stumble into bookselling, perhaps the only career that abets my obsessive habit rather than battles with it.

I’m not saying this is necessarily a good thing, though.  I would agree with people who think I read too much.  I do.  It is probably one of the better addictions a person can nurture, but it does get out of hand.  It interferes with my sleeping patterns a few times a week, it can make me anti-social.  I also, on looking at the pile of books I read this year, was embarrassed by the number of really shitty books I read this year when I wanted to read but my brain was tired, sort of like the embarrassment I would feel if somebody piled up the number of bags of Kettle Chips (Spicy Thai flavor) I had eaten this year.  I really need to stop reading shitty books just for the feeling of words passing over my eyeballs.  If I have a New Years’ resolution, I guess that’s it.

That said, anybody have tips for more ways to cram reading into the day?  I’m trying to learn how to knit and read at the same time, since family legend says I had a great-aunt who could do so, so maybe it’s genetic.

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6 comments so far

  1. Doret on

    How many books do you read at once? I usually read one at a time but sometimes I’ll have a home/get to work book and another book to read at lunch. I was thinking of stopping my cable but I am weak.

  2. Jacqui on

    I’m like Doret sometimes. I leave books all over, so I have a book in my bag with which to walk and another by my bedside. And I am also weak concerning cable.

    But I have been known to read while cooking.

  3. Mary-Beth on

    If you figure out how to read and knit at the same time, please do pass on the secret. I gave up TV this year to concentrate more time on writing and reading. 400+ a year! kudos

  4. Amy on

    If you figure out that knitting and reading at the same time thing, you really need to teach me how. I think it would involve a book stand, but I kinda figure that’s why god invented unabridged books on tape/CD.

  5. missy on

    I read and knit, but I don’t like doing it at the same time, because, I don’t get to fully enjoy either—but with an easy knitting pattern, you CAN!!! It sounds to me that you have crammed reading into all but a few moments during the day. I have been known to also read while at stop lights . . . . in the car

  6. bookavore on

    Doret, I usually read several books at a time, just because the book I’m in the middle of isn’t always the closest when I’m hunting for a book. Sometimes they get stranded at work or I don’t feel like getting out of bed or something. One of the books I am reading now is really long–good–but really long and I’m not always in the mood for it. But I don’t ever think more than 3 or 4 at a time.

    missy, you are insane! Clearly everybody else should be turning to you for knit/read guidance. But not for driving lessons.


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