Every so often, I see articles and statistics which indicate that great numbers of Americans haven’t read a book, not one single book, of their own volition in years. I imagine that if a poll were conducted among these non-readers as to the reason why they don’t read, a large percentage of them would say, “I just don’t have time.” This saddens me.
I understand that our society – our jobs, schools, extracurricular activities, churches, household chores, social obligations – demands that we be rushing headlong to do something every waking moment. But I’ve discovered that the world doesn’t stop working if I defy some of those demands, even make some counter-demands for less frenzy and more serenity. For example, I’m making a conscious effort this year to emulate a dear wise lady I once knew whose rule was that after she cleaned up the supper dishes, she was done working for the day. Her apron came off and she spent the evening in quiet pursuits of her own choosing: sewing, reading, talking the day over with her husband.
Even in the midst of the mad rush, though, I find that there are down times I can reclaim for reading while I’m waiting in the doctor’s office, the payday drive-through line at the credit union, the tax office, my daughter’s dance studio, the auto repair shop, the drugstore. Of course, most of these (I say optimistically) are not huge blocks of time; it’s important to choose material that reads well in small increments and doesn’t require deep concentration. Short stories, essays, and poetry work well for me. It’s also vital to make sure you have the material on hand when you need it. I almost always carry a book in my purse; a more foolproof method is leaving a book or two in the car.