When I ask people what they’d like to do more of with their time, “read” comes up almost as often as “exercise.” And yet many people — people who have the same 168 hours per week as the rest of us — do manage to read through books at a rapid clip. I’m always amazed at the number of book reviews Modern Mrs. Darcy manages to post, despite other time commitments like, oh, homeschooling four children.
Where does that time come from? With making time to read, I’ve realized that people seem to fall into “supply” or “demand” camps.
Supply sorts always have time available to read. It’s part of their schedules. Val Demings, for instance, the former Orlando Chief of Police, and current candidate for mayor, told me (at MAKERS) that she wakes up and — after working out — reads inspirational tomes. She also reads right before going to bed at night. A stay-at-home dad mentions that he intentionally uses the time his child naps to read (instead of, say, doing chores). For many of these supply-side readers, TV is not a huge part of their lives, and reading takes the place of that structural down time.
Demand sorts read a lot when they have something they want to read. I am definitely in this camp. When I’m getting into a book, I can magically make 10 hours appear on a weekend. I can even make multiple hours appear on a weekday — but these aren’t all the obvious after-the-kids-go-to-bed hours. Time turns out to be highly elastic. The kids get involved in playing Mario Kart — and I start reading my book. I read in a corner somewhere until interrupted. I have 30 minutes after a phone call and before the kids are home for lunch and, hey! It’s time to read.
But when I don’t have something I want to read? These hours wind up going to other things. In the worst case, they go to random puttering. But I also read magazines or watch TV, or work, or declutter the house. I spent some time on that this past weekend, which means I probably need to find some better books.
Are you a supply or demand person when it comes to reading? If you have creative ways of making time to read, I’d love ideas for a piece I’m writing on this, too.
Photo: My daughter’s bookshelves. She’s more a pull-books-off-the-shelf sort of “reader.”