It's mid-October of 2015, and as today, I've read 155 books so far during this calendar year.
As you can imagine, numbers like those don't come about by accident. I don't just "happen" to read a lot of books. I make reading a priority.
Make no mistake: reading's not my only priority. I maintain healthy relationships, work a full-time job, publish my own work on the side, stay active in my local church, go to movies, watch TV, keep my house clean, exercise, travel, mentor, and prank my sister. I say all of this only to dispel the notion that people who read a lot must neglect other areas of life. That's just not the case. The sheer volume of reading that I do (pun intended) does not lessen my enjoyment of "real life." If anything, it enhances it.
But how can I afford to read so much, you ask? I'll admit that when it comes to reading, I have a few advantages.
First, I'm not raising children. Those of you who maintain families need no further explanation. Without a household to maintain, my spare time is mine to do with as I please; and most of the time, it pleases me to read. I read during meals, while folding laundry, while washing dishes. If I get up early or stay up late to read, no one interrupts me. It's wonderful.
Second, I read and process quickly without sacrificing recall. I have no explanation for this other than that it's just the way God put my brain together. Of course, I don't remember everything that I read, but I remember enough to make broad reading worth my while.
Third, I always have a book with me. Always. That way if I get stuck in a traffic jam, held up in a waiting room, or otherwise trapped in tedium, the time doesn't go to waste. (For this purpose, it helps to keep a synced Amazon or Overdrive app on your smartphone: but more on that in the next post.)
Fourth, I built reading into my permanent schedule a long time ago. This is perhaps the key point. Every January, news sites roll out articles regarding how to turn a resolution into a habit. There's a reason. Studies show that once permanent habits are formed, they no longer take mental energy to accomplish. They become automatic, and the rest of our life takes shape around them. People ask me all the time when I find time to read, but because my reading habit formed so early, finding time to "fit it in" has never really been a question. It's already in. It's just something that I do, like cleaning my house or brushing my teeth. (Well, not exactly like those things. Reading's way more entertaining.)
If you're trying to read more, fear not: you can do it. Generally, my advice for starting out is that you find holes in your schedule and plug them with words. How many of us, when we find a spare twenty minutes, spend that time mindlessly skimming Facebook or trolling Instagram? Instead, keep an audio book or e-book on your phone, pull it up whenever you can, and watch how quickly the pages fly. Once that action becomes a habit, there'll be no stopping you.
The next thing you know, you'll be the one fielding questions about finding time to read.
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Coming Soon: How I Can Afford to Read So Much, Part 2: Money