Where I spray-paint my thoughts…

Time to Read


I’d like to have a dollar for everytime someone asks me, “How do you find time to read so much?” Of course, if I had all those dollars, I’d probably use them to buy books.

I am a Compulsive Overreader; always have been.  But I’m also a busy teacher, writer, mom and volunteer.  Some weeks I read more than others, but I doubt there’s been a week of my life (except the infamous week of Pathfinder Camporee last summer) when I didn’t complete at least one book.  It does help that I’m a fast reader, and I think how quickly a person reads is just one of those things you can’t control — in fact I’ve often wished I could read more slowly, to make a book I’m enjoying last longer. But I can’t.

However, another factor in the equation is something I’m only just beginning to understand.  A conversation with a friend shed some light on the matter.

This friend does in-home daycare for a living, and she was telling me about a day a couple of summers ago when it was bright and sunny and she took the kids outside to play.  “So, of course, if they’re going to be outside, I want to be doing something, not just sitting around watching them play,” she said as matter-of-factly as if we were speaking the same language, “so I loaded up a couple of buckets of soapy water and took them outside, and started washing the cars, and before long the kids pitched in to help me.”

I listened with one of those glassy smiles that, if you know me well enough, you’ll recognize as a sign of complete incomprehension.  Never, ever, since my kids were old enough to crawl, has it occurred to me to take them outside on a sunny day with any other purpose in mind than for them to play while I read a book.  The concept that, upon going outside, I would need to concoct some Useful Task like washing the car in order to occupy me, would just never cross my mind.

It’s clearly one of those disconnects, another point at which I realize I am Not a Proper Woman.  I’ve realized that I see reading as my default setting.  Reading is what I’m doing when I’m not doing anything.  Or in between doing things. While for a lot of other people, particularly a lot of my women friends, Doing Something Useful is their default setting, and reading, like watching TV or any other leisure activity, is something they turn to when they have a free moment with no other demands.

I have to make a concerted effort to make myself do Something Useful, since it always involves putting down my book. Maybe I should starting talking and acting as if my lifestyle were normal and everyone else’s were unusual.  Upon entering a friend’s home: “Oh, it’s so tidy! And all your dishes are clean!! How do you ever find the time? I’d love to clean my kitchen, but I just have so many books to read ….” 

It probably wouldn’t fly. But I’d love to try.


8 thoughts on “Time to Read

  1. It would so totally fly with me.

    Except it would never happen. My dishes are dirty, and every surface is cluttered. I’d love to keep my house up, but I have too many books to read too.

  2. Give me the book every time!

  3. My setting changed somewhere along the way. I do Something Useful all day, and then I read for awhile before bed. I miss it though, the way my book used to stay by me all day long, to be picked up at every available opportunity. It still happens very occasionally when I have a book too gripping to be left on the nightstand, and whenever it does, I’m aware both of how much I missed this and of how very disruptive it is to my ordinary life.

  4. So, are you giving up the fiction books for Lent again? Now that’s true sacrifice!

  5. Yeah … fiction and chocolate, once again. And maybe Facebook on Sabbaths (Facebook for all of Lent would be even worse than fiction!)

  6. Is Lent almost upon us again? When does it start? I think I’ll give up cancer for lent this year.

    My book reading lately has been relegated to…well…that would be TMI. Let’s just say, I get a few paragraphs to a few pages in at a time, depending on what part of the chemo cycle I’m in.

  7. I think giving up cancer for Lent is a great idea, Jamie!!

  8. I also have a reading ‘default’ setting. And I was baffled by the notion of having to find something ‘useful’ to do outside. The whole purpose of outside is to have a different reading location, isn’t it?

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