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Making Time to Read

Back before smartphones ruled our lives, stories bookended my days. My return to this habit feels like a tiny act of resistance.

Once upon a time, I started every morning curled in a chair in the sunniest corner of our living room with coffee and a book. Then, my iPhone appeared and “seeing what’s going on in the world” seemed necessary. I woke up scrolling. Lately, as I read my feed through bleary eyes, I’ve found myself starting each day in the grip of someone else’s tizzy, which is unpleasant and unhelpful.

So I’ve committed to starting my day with a book. For years, I’ve stashed my phone away from my bedroom every night, and now it stays in its isolated charging spot until after I’m showered, dressed and ready to face the day, my head full of whatever story or nonfiction or poetry I’m reading. I’ve had slip-ups — I had to check on school closures one snow day, for example, and it’s amazing how fast that rolled into Facebook — but mostly, I’ve been reading instead of scrolling with my morning coffee, and I’m happier and better for it.

Some of the books I’m reading — fiction and nonfiction — give me the space, time and context to process the news. Others give me a mental break, so I can come back to reality fresh. I am being more intentional about the articles I read and the sources I visit. If anything, I feel more informed.

Plus, an extra half-hour everyday with a book is helping carve through my never-ending to-be-read pile. Here are more tips for squeezing in more books:

  • Start and end your day with 30 minutes of reading. To do this, ditch your phone.
  • Always carry a book with you, on your phone if you have to, in paper or on a Kindle. Don’t scroll when you can flip pages. 
  • Read while you eat. A book makes a great lunch date. 
  • “Read” while you drive — or walk or workout or … — with audiobooks. (I hear Lincoln in The Bardo is fantastic in this format.)
  • Reward yourself with reading. Clean the bathroom, read a chapter. Vacuum, read a chapter. Do the dishes, read a chapter. Prep dinner, read while it cooks.
  • Create a reading culture. If everyone else in your family is reading, you’re likely to be reading, too. (More about how to do this in the next newsletter.)