The other day, my friend Jeff left this comment on my Sunday Salon post:
These will probably come as a silly questions but:
1 – I’m assuming you are a fast reader – how did you learn to read so fast and how can I learn to read faster? Practice doesn’t seem to be the answer I’ve always been a painfully slow reader.
2- What does an avg day look like in terms if your reading schedule? How do you fit this in and around the rest of your life’s demands?
I was unable to respond to the comment right away, and then found myself thinking about Jeff”s questions on and off all day. They aren’t silly questions at all! Jeff really got me thinking about reading in general, and my growth as a reader in particular. And I decided to respond to Jeff’s comment with a full-blown post. This is probably waaaay more than he wanted to know; I hope it doesn’t scare him off commenting forever!
I suppose I read faster than average, but it’s not something I’m conscious of. I started reading in kindergarten, and grew up surrounded by books. My mom read all the time; once I reached my teens, I did, too. I’ve been an avid reader for well over 30 years. My theory is that my reading speed gradually increased, and it might be simply because I’ve read a lot for a very long time!
Reading is my primary hobby. Oh yes, I have a fitness routine, I like to garden, and I enjoy activities with my family. But these days I spend most of my free time reading, and I am never without a book. When my kids were small I read a lot less. But when my youngest was about 6, and the two could play together independently, suddenly time opened up again. I do most of my reading in the evening, instead of watching television. I have more time to read on weekends, and because I’m always the first one up, I often take advantage of the quiet time. I also bring a book with me to work — if I don’t have any other lunch plans, I read. And if I have to wait somewhere, like for a doctor’s appointment, I read.
I also have to mention the impact the internet and social media have had on my reading. Once upon a time, I decided what to read based on the New York Times Bestseller List and Oprah’s Book Club. But about five years ago I began discovering internet-based book communities. I joined a couple Yahoo reading groups, which led me to blogging and to LibraryThing. These social contacts serve as a powerful “recommendation engines.” I’ve discovered books and authors I would never have found on my own. Each new discovery leads to another, and I’ve quickly realized there’s no end to the great literature in this world. There’s no doubt these internet communities have made me a more voracious reader.
I truly believe you make time for the things you enjoy and the things that are important to you. That said, I often find myself thinking about balance. Sometimes it’s all too easy to hide my nose in a book and avoid other things I “should” be doing. If those other things involve housework, I don’t feel so guilty. But if I’m reading instead of doing things that would strengthen my relationships with my husband and daughters, well that’s a problem.
Back to my friend Jeff. I know something about him that the rest of you don’t. Jeff is a very outdoorsy guy with a strong sense of adventure. I’m in awe of his ability to do things I could never imagine doing. How does he do what he does? How can he backpack all by himself in the wilderness for four weeks, when I would find a day hike strenuous? I bet it’s because 1) he’s done that sort of thing all his life, and 2) he loves it and can’t imagine not doing it. And Jeff also works hard to strike the right balance between his outdoor pursuits and his lovely family. Hmmm … seems we all have passions and talents that make us feel whole.
Now I’ll open it up to others. How do you do what you do?