Books to the Ceiling, Books to the Sky

01 July 2013


Books to the ceiling, books to the sky,
My pile of books is a mile high.
How I love them! How I need them!
I'll have a long beard by the time I read them.
Arnold Lobel

"Are you ever not reading?"

My friend's question was not delivered rudely, but even so, I didn't immediately know how to reply. The true answer is yes-and-no. I always have a book I want to be reading, always a dozen boxes to be checked off on my to-read list, but that doesn't necessarily mean I consistently read as much as I want. (School and housework make certain of that.) Now that it's summer and my schedule is a little lighter, my mind has been free to roam the pages a bit more frequently, and it would be dishonest to say I don't love these warmer months for that very reason. With more free time comes the weight of additional small jobs not so easily managed during the schoolyear, though, so life is still much the same.

Nonetheless, several people continue to be shocked at the amount of literature I read each year. (I don't understand it, as I tend to be a particularly slow reader who has a problem finishing what she's started.) Perhaps it's because I feel stranded if I leave the house without a book. Perhaps it's because I can't seem to stop talking about the books I've read and am reading. Perhaps it's more simple than all that: I'm a bookworm. Whatever the reason, if I assess my day's schedule, a lot of it is spent reading. Reading as a means of researching for Rifles. Reading for school. Reading books on theology, history, poetry. Reading for no other reason than pure enjoyment.

I greatly appreciated Katie's post a few days ago about using one's reading time wisely. Aptly titled "Shakespeare in the Purse," she listed her own tried and true tricks for fitting good literature into an already bustling schedule. So often I hear the complaint, "I want to read such-and-such, but I just don't have the time!" Stuff and nonsense, Katie says, and I agree. She's covered most of the bases already, but her post so inspired me that I thought I'd add a few additional tips to the mix.

Audiobooks. I know, I know. It sounds heinous. But it truly works, if you can get past the fact that the narrator will never be able to replicate the voice you imagine the hero or heroine to possess. Nothing improves such menial tasks as folding towels or washing dishes like a good book for company. Since we cannot simultaneously read and scrub (well, maybe you can, but I can't), this is the second best thing.

Schedules. Set aside a certain time of day for reading a particular book. This is one suggestion that depends on the person — I know some people would rather not be so rigid. It works excellently for me, though. If I write down a schedule for myself and mark the hour from 3 to 4 P.M. as my slot for finishing my daily quota of Dumas, it makes me more purposeful about how I spend my time, and more often than not, I'm able to fit it in. (Sometimes I'm just stubborn.)

"One chapter to be taken at bedtime." Katie mentioned this already, but I wanted to reinforce it. The best way for me to unwind at the end of a busy day is to crawl in bed with a good book. I generally save my easier reading for the night; if I try swallowing The Count of Monte Cristo at a late hour, it doesn't work as well as, say, Moonblood, for instance. The idea is not to cram in a truckload of information, but to relax and read for the fun of it.

Read in the car. Even if we're only going to be in the car for fifteen minutes, I bring along a book. During the school year, the books I read while we're rolling about in our van are normally school-related. It's the plain truth. If I can finish my required reading in the car, I have more time to devote to the reading I'd rather be doing when I'm home. No matter the season, drives that seem long are rendered too short when you have a book to help pass the time.

Unless you get carsick reading in a moving vehicle. In which case this wouldn't work out so well.

Don't read one book at a time. If I only read one book at a time, I would never be able to fit in personal reading during the school year. Certainly school assignments always have to come first, but there is a way of managing your schedule to fit in a few more titles besides. Vary up your literary intake a little. I dwell primarily in the classics, but I also love to read history, theology, and some fantasy. It all depends on the day. With a well-rounded literary diet, you'll find yourself reading more and getting more out of what you're reading!

How do books figure in your schedule? Do tell!

3 epistles:

  1. I love the summer months for the opportunity to read simply for pleasure. During the school year I spend my time reading texts books, or review books and of course my Bible. I have to work to find times for those things. But in the summer... I spend shameless hours buried in book after book. Ahhh!

    My kids all read in the car. Yesterday, Aedan and I had some appointments and he read an entire book in the five hours we were out. I get very car sick, though, so I usually save the books for pool side.

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  2. Well I have been asked the same thing be a lot of my friends! And I am always reading different books at the same time. My best time to read is in the car. Even if we are just running to the post office, I bring a book. It takes about 45 minutes to get to our church every week, so I at least get that time!
    I'm also teased ruthlessly over pronouncing things incorrectly because I read so much!

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  3. I can totally, totally understand the sentiment of bemusement and surprise in the one person and honest desperation on the other to explain to someone how much you love this world of books. One time, a few weeks ago, I was out with two of my friends by the Brisbane River, and as we were talking (one of the girls who I know a little less loves to read, and the one I know really well hates reading), so when I mentioned I was pursuing writing stories and wanting to get published one day, my friend told the other girl in a sort of nonchalant manner, 'oh, she's published a book' and I had to restrain myself from blurting 'THAT WAS NOT A BOOK, IT WAS A SHORT STORY?!' She definitely thought 14 pages the equivalent of a book =). However, she meant it nicely I am sure, and I think it was interesting seeing how someone can just really love to read, and the other will flee it like the plague.


    Thank you for sharing these tips, Elizabeth! It is so important to really make sure to give that extra time for reading, even in the times when it isn't what you'd rather like to do, because later on, the more one gets caught up in life and studies it can be a challenge to willingly pick up a large tome and just read. But I love reading, and I so enjoyed reading your tips.

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