A friend was recently lamenting that no one he knows reads anymore.
And why is that, I asked.
“Everyone is busy scrolling down their social media feeds. Where is the time to sit down with a good book and read?”
While it is true that reading sometimes takes a backseat in this digital age – with our online lives taking a big chunk of our leisure time – it is also true that many of us are consciously making the time to relax with our favourite book.
Perhaps because we are so overwhelmed with all the information targeted at us online that we are returning to unplugged activities like reading.
And ironically, social media seems to be driving the trend for those looking to rediscover the joy of reading! Remember the gorgeous Instagram posts about books that show up in our feeds? Or the numerous blogs and online book clubs enticing us to pick up a book again?
When I was growing up, there was no source of entertainment in our home – we didn’t even have a TV – and cellphones were yet to be invented. As a result, I read voraciously, not only because there were so many undiscovered worlds between the pages of my favourite books but also because there was nothing else to do!
But as I stepped into adulthood, started a career, began raising a family, there wasn’t much time left over to indulge in my love for books. Also, the internet became an inescapable part of my life and I was constantly distracted by my phone.
My reading suffered and once I went several months without reading a single book (Oh! The horror!) It was a wake up call I desperately needed, and I started setting aside some regular, uninterrupted time to read. Happily, I’m back to reading at least one book a month.
I must confess it has been hard – I still have a hundred things to do, and there are just not enough hours in the day to find sufficient time to read. My “To Be Read” pile is getting higher and higher and I wish it was easier to tear my eyes away from my computer and not get distracted by the many apps on my phone. However, I have realized that instead of fighting technology in order to find time to read, it is better to make it an ally.
Here is what I do to fit my love for books into my always-online life:
1. Finding it hard to commit? Setting myself a reading challenge!
Goodreads is a great platform for recording the books I've read and/or want to read. I also commit to a Reading Challenge on Goodreads every year, estimating the number of books I think I would read that year - this holds me accountable and acts as a reminder if I lag behind.
2. Can't avoid screen time? Why not put books on all my devices!
Even with the best of intentions, sometimes it is just hard to find time to read every day. And just like everyone else in this connected world, I am guilty of flitting between my social media accounts at every opportunity. However, it is as easy to open the Kindle app on my phone or laptop as Twitter or LinkedIn.
3. Getting the best of both worlds by joining a library!
What can be better than reading the latest books for free? And the best thing is, I don't have to finish a book I don't enjoy. No more feeling guilty about the unread books collecting dust on my bookshelves and in every corner of my home.
One more thing: I don't have to trek to my local library to check out a physical book - the Ottawa Public Library has thousands of e-books that I can read on my phone, tablet or laptop.
If you have any suggestions on how to find time to read despite all the daily distractions in our digitally connected lives, do share them in the comments below or write to us at email@example.com