Why It’s Okay to NOT Make Time For Reading | Discussion

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Like many readers, I have struggled to find time to read when life gets really busy. It’s easy for reading time to get shoved aside by school, work, and other commitments that have a higher priority on our to-do lists. Countless blog posts and Booktube videos have given readers tips for increasing the amount of reading time in their lives: make reading a part of your daily routine, carry a book with you everywhere you go, listen to audiobooks while doing chores or commuting, and simply prioritize it more. on a regular basis. Though these tips can certainly be helpful at times, I think they’re ultimately missing the larger point to be made here:

It’s okay to NOT make time for reading. 

I’ve come to this realization after completing three semesters of college in which I had basically no time at all to read anything that wasn’t listed on one of my syllabi. At first this lack of choice in what I read really bothered me because it was such a deviation from the mountains of books I normally had time to read for fun when I was at home and in high school. Initially I was determined to make time for reading in the midst of my busy schedule of classes, coursework, paid work, and extracurricular activities, but I soon realized that this was nearly impossible. If I wanted to have enough time to study and do well in my classes (not to mention time to socialize with friends and even sleep) then I would have to give up the books on my TBR and hit my academic books instead. 

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This is a sacrifice that I have made each and every semester that I’ve been in college. Though book reviews continue to be posted on my blog, these are reviews that were written over the summer or during other breaks that I have scheduled in advance to automatically be posted in the future. However, as a rule I don’t read anything that isn’t assigned reading for my classes during the semester unless I’m home for a holiday break.

Before college, the thought of giving up reading would have seemed almost blasphemous to me. Giving up reading? But I’m a reader! It’s what I have to do! And that’s the problem: too often I’ve felt as though being a reader means always having my nose in a book, no matter what time of year it is or what other commitments I have in my life at the time. I believed that in order to be considered a “reader” I had to read a significant number of books each year– certainly at least enough to surpass my Goodreads challenge goal– and have an impressive number of books on my bookshelves. Being a “reader” meant living the lifestyle of one, which apparently has become a much larger commitment than anyone could have anticipated.

But this just simply isn’t true. Anyone can be a reader, and there’s a simple one-step process to becoming one: identifying as a reader. Once someone says or thinks, “You know what? I’m a reader.” then he or she is a reader. There aren’t any hidden strings attached or pacts with the bookish gods that one must forge. One’s identity as a reader isn’t something that can be judged or approved by others, especially regarding the kinds of books and amount of books one reads.

The brilliant Ariel Bissett actually has several videos discussing this topic that helped me recently come to this realization, though it has been brewing in the back of my mind for over a year now. Two videos in particular, titled “I Can’t Find Time to Read” and “Not a ‘Proper’ Reader?” hit the nail squarely on the head with her thoughts on our obsession with tracking what we read and setting requirements on who can consider themselves a “proper” reader.

All in all, I wanted to share my thoughts on the mythic rule that we must always strive to make ample time for reading in our lives. We should not feel guilty for the reading that we don’t do, nor should we lament the seemingly never-ending growth of our TBR piles. You can choose to NOT make time to reading and still be a reader. 

What are your thoughts on being considered a “reader,” making time for reading, and on tracking what we read in general? I would absolutely love to know what you think, so please let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

 

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37 thoughts on “Why It’s Okay to NOT Make Time For Reading | Discussion

  1. This is such a wonderful point to make! While I do tend to read a lot, that’s only because I have a lot of spare time. At college right now, I only go in 3 days a week and it’s very rare that I have work to do outside of class. But sometimes, there will be a day where I get home from college and almost feel bad for not wanting to read, even if I’m obviously tired and should just spend the evening relaxing, rather than straining my eyes some more after spending 6 hours on a computer that day. We put ourselves under pressure too much – and really, it’ll be because that longing to read will be there, so when we don’t get to it feels awful. But still. We have to prioritise other things quite often, and we shouldn’t feel bad for that!

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  2. I think it’s why people often consider it such a luxury to sit down and spend hours with a book. With work, school, family, etc. there just isn’t enough time to read a lot, consistently. I got a break for a few months where work slowed down and I had no exams, and I read a handful of books and it was lovely. Now there’ll be about six months I won’t be able to pick up a book again but I’ll just look forward to the next break. We do what we can, no helping that.

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    1. Exactly! And there really isn’t anything wrong with taking breaks and not having time to read all of the time, despite the pressure that we might otherwise put on ourselves to do so. Not always having time to read has actually made me better appreciate my reading time when I do have it. It’s so nice to know that I’m not the only one who feels this way!

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  3. YES! I’ve recently made a post which was a lot like this one called ‘Why I Want to Read Less’. I’ve always struggled with the amount of books I felt like I should be reading, and the amount of books that I could actually read. I always felt guilty when I watched a TV-show instead of reading, because I felt like I was a reader, which meant that I had to dedicate all of my time to reading. Luckily, that’s not actually the case, and I now try to do things besides reading without feeling guilty. And it’s been great.

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    1. I completely agree! It’s actually really reassuring to hear that other readers have struggled with this pressure to read a lot as well. Sometimes it feels as though reading has become a chore, but that’s definitely not how it should be! In 2017, I want to make a point to slow down my reading and really appreciate the time that I do have to savor a book.

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  4. Amazing conversation post! I agree with you 100%, unfortunately it’s hard to remind myself of this when my reading is lagging, like it is this month. I love seeing those high tallies, which I guess is part of the problem with Goodreads Challenge. It does feel good to beat your goal, and then you want that high again… and how crazy is it that a bookworm high is beating our reading goal. 😀

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    1. Thank you!! haha I completely agree, we bookworms have some pretty crazy goals 🙂 It’s hard to get out of the habit of feeling like I have to always be reading, but I think I’m going to make that one of my bookish resolutions for 2017.

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  5. That’s an amazing point you’ve put forward there! It’s something I’ve been going through during my semester too. I feel like we label ourselves as “readers” and sometimes, force ourselves to try to keep up with reading during the peak of the semester for namesake. I love that you’ve put it forward in such a beautiful way!

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    1. Thank you so much!! It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who feels this way. I think you’re right– we need stop pushing ourselves to read for the sake of calling ourselves readers when we should be prioritizing other things (*cough* schoolwork *cough*). There’s a time and a place for endless reading, of course, but the middle of the semester may not be the best time.

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  6. Oh I love this post! So insightful 🙂 And I feel the exact same way. In the past few years, I just didn’t have the time to read much and I started to feel less and less like a “proper” reader, especially since I had managed to read nearly 3 to 4 books a week while I was in high school. Teachers were so used to me having my nose in a book, even during lecture, that they didn’t even bother to reprimand me haha. But once I hit college, that lifestyle ended. I focused mainly on my academic reads for the sake of time, but I still didn’t feel like a reader, even though I most certainly was. It’s taken me a while to realize that prioritizing is a great way to stay focused, even if it means making some sacrifices as a bookworm. Thanks for this! 😀

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    1. I never expected the shift from high school to college to impact my reading habits so drastically. I went from reading ALL THE BOOKS in high school to strictly books for coursework for the majority of the year when classes were in session. Even though I’m spending less overall time in class in college than in high school, there’s so much homework that somehow I have even less time to read for fun. It’s so reassuring to know that I’m not the only one who has experienced this transition. Thank YOU for commenting! 🙂

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  7. This is such a great post. I’m one of those college students that DOES make time for reading, but I completely understand not being able to or not wanting to stress yourself out just to read. I make time for it simply because it’s my way of destressing and I don’t know how I would survive the college stress without it haha But I do think it’s absolutely ridiculous when other readers “gatekeep” the community and decide that if you don’t read every day or don’t read X amount of books in a year, then you’re not a real reader. If you like to read, then you’re a reader, end of story. 🙂

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    1. Thank you!! And I’m so impressed that you work reading into your college schedule. I have a few friends who also find time to read but it definitely stresses me out more because I feel like I should be doing homework. :/ Anyways, you’re completely right that we shouldn’t “gatekeep” the community, because that’s just absurd. Anyone and everyone can be a reader! 🙂

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      1. I can totally understand that! There are definitely sometimes that I’m not able to work it in, but most of the time I just make myself go to “bed” earlier than I would usually and then spend some time reading before I actually go to bed. But there are definitely times where I just have too much to do and can’t fit it in.

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    1. Exactly! When I do have an ounce of free time during the semester I’m much more likely to watch a movie or hang out with friends than pick up a book because my mind feels drained from the endless mountains of homework I have to do. Now I treasure the books I read for fun over my breaks from school!

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  8. Ever since I started working full time I really had to cut down on both my reading and blogging time. It was so hard at first because it made me feel like I wasn’t a true “blogger” anymore. Eventually I had to lower my expectations on what I could read and write and be content that just because my Goodreads challenge goals were lower it didn’t make me a less passionate reader. Thank you for a great discussion, I think this is something a lot of people experience!

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    1. I hadn’t thought about it before, but you mention an important point: this is SO relevant to the blogging community, too! The amount I read and blog has dwindled significantly since starting college, and I’ve come to just accept the fact that the majority of my reading and blogging will have to be done during winter/summer breaks. Thank you so much!!

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  9. I completely agree with this. I always considered myself a reader, but when I saw the online book community, I felt awful. Everyone had blogs, YouTube channels, they reviewed on Goodreads or had social media dedicated to reading and I was simply a spectator. I’m a slow reader and at the time I didn’t have my blog, so it made me feel like maybe I wasn’t really a reader after all. Quickly it dawn on me that it was silly to think that way, thankfully. I joined the book community because it was fun and not because that would make me more of a reader 😉

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    1. That’s one negative aspect of the online book community: everything is so fast-paced! I’m always amazed by the bloggers and booktubers who seem to be able to read three or four books a week, while sometimes I’m barely able to read that much in a month because I’m so busy with other things. There’s a lot of pressure to read an enormous amount of books, but where’s the fun in rushing through everything? You’re right: the bookish community should be fun, not focused on becoming “more” of a reader.

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  10. Wonderful post! I felt the same way back when I was in uni. I used to read all the time but then uni happened and I read a lot less. I had no time and energy and I didn’t even have the books because I left my books at home and back then ebook wasn’t as big as it is right now. I got to the point where I didn’t read at all during school year. It was frustrating but I got to term with it and just channeled my energy into reading my textbooks hahaha I only started to read more this year while I was working on my thesis. Got a lot of spare time and I used reading as a reward after a day of working the thesis haha and no I don’t think not reading all the time makes as a ‘non-reader’, it just means we have other priority at the moment 😀

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    1. Thank you!! ❤ And I love how you put that: it doesn't make us "non-readers," we just have different priorities at the moment. That's perfect! It's so nice to know that I'm not the only one who feels this way.

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    1. I’m so glad this post could help!! ❤ I think a lot of readers feel this way but for some reason it's kind of a taboo topic in the online book community. The sooner we recognize it and discuss it, though, the sooner we can establish how ridiculous it is to put so much pressure on ourselves. Reading is supposed to be fun, not a chore!

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  11. It gets worse in college? I thought I didn’t have enough time in high school! (Although that said I still manage to read for fun, just less than I do in my holidays). I get very competitive with reading, but the fact is that I have a lot of other commitments. Like you, I write all my reviews in the holidays (because why waste precious reading time with writing reviews in the school year) and schedule them to be posted (this should show that it’s a very good system). I feel like some book bloggers are like ‘BOOKS ARE LIFE’, and they’re great, but I also like socialising and seeing my friends and passing my classes and doing chores (well, I don’t like it but I like to be helpful) and get exercise and play music and do other stuff. So not reading all the time=ok. Also this is a very encouraging post so thank you so much 🙂

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    1. Oh, yes. I’m sorry to say, but at least in my experience I have WAY less free time in college because there is so much homework outside of class. But don’t worry, we can make it work!! I do have friends in college who manage to balance reading for fun with reading for class, but personally it just stresses me out more because I feel guilty about not spending the time on homework. But it’s definitely possible! Anyways, I’m glad that this post helped! ❤

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  12. PFFT, if there was such a thing as a “proper” reader I would totally be failing. I don’t constantly read. In fact, it can take me several weeks to finish one book because I don’t always make the time to read. I think the blogging community & IG definitely makes people obsess a little more with how many books they read. Some people read SO MUCH and then you sit there going “how do they read 10 books in a month, I’ve barely finished two”. But either way, it’s still reading!

    Molly @ Molly’s Book Nook

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    1. I feel the same way! I used to be able to read that much in middle school and high school, but I definitely don’t have the time to read that much now. I’m lucky if I get around to reading a handful of books even when the semester isn’t in session. That’s one of the only cons of the online bookish community 😦

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