I realized recently that there are signs and stages when I’m enjoying a book so much that it starts to take over or at the least influence my routine. There’s the obvious sign of staying up too late (Bad Decisions Book Club).
And there’s the stages of book release anticipation that Aarya wrote about wherein one might reserve an entire day or call in “sick” on a Very Important Tuesday or Release Date. Sometimes, as Aarya also pointed out, a reader can combine both, waiting for the ebook to arrive between midnight and 3am, and reading immediately upon arrival. That’s like Platinum Status Bad Decisions Book Club.
Then there are the occasions when I won’t know a book has the power to influence my day and bend my schedule to its will. I’ll start a book that seems like it might be fun or interesting, and then I notice that I’m reordering my to do list, my schedule, and my time in order to read more. I have reading time built into most days already, but when I want more time and the book starts commandeering my calendar, well, that’s a sign of a very good book.
What activities become reading activities? There are several!
Workout Reading Time: This morning, I skipped my running program on the treadmill in favor of fast walking at an incline so that I could read more. I can’t read while running but I can read while walking, especially if I max out the text size.
Hands-Off Recipe Substitution Reading Time: If I switch out the dinner scheduled for that evening in favor of something I don’t have to actively cook or that I can stir while reading with one hand, that’s another few chapters at least. The Instant Pot is great for when I want another half hour to 45 minutes to read during my normal food prep time.
Walking the Dogs Reading Time: If I can get the audiobook, I will listen while I walk, instead of listening to my normal schedule of podcasts.
Internet? What Internet? Reading Time: If I entirely stop paying any attention to social media, or to all my favorite subreddits (Heya, r/CrossStitch!) in favor of a few more pages, then I’m reading a very good book. Usually my brain likes its candy breaks, but sometimes the book I’m reading is the only thing I want to do. (I love when that happens!)
Claudia: Ah, I’m definitely a member of the Bad Decisions Book Club, night-owl edition. I have a very early schedule at work so I always pay dearly for that — a sure sign the book is really grabbing my attention is when I do it anyway. I second the Instant Pot and other “set it and forget it” kitchen gadgets like a rice maker for some extra reading time. I also read during my commute, and that’s blissfully uninterrupted reading for a solid 30 minutes each way.
Other than that, I steal 10,15-minute pockets of reading here and there, which can be frustrating (I prefer to read in longer stretches) but another sign that I just can’t help myself.
Shana: I also do the reading while working out or cooking trick. When I decide to make risotto or pudding it’s a sure sign of book addiction.
I read while doing my hair. Usually I watch tv during the hour it takes to braid or twist my hair. But when I have a book that I can’t be separated from, I stop caring about the potential neck ache that follows a session of staring down with my arms above my head.
Aarya: The better question to ask is, “When am I not stealing pockets of time and reading instead?” The advantage of reading books in digital is that I can whip out my phone at any time and scroll through a chapter. I can’t quite describe the utter comfort and satisfaction I derive from knowing that my thousand book friends are in my pocket, just waiting to be opened and read.
Because of this convenience, it’s so easy to not do things that I’m supposed to be doing if a book really hooks onto me. My daily hour long walk at 7 am? I’ll find a bench and read instead (I have tried reading on my phone and walking, but that way lies extreme clumsiness and potential accidents). Meals? I’ll read while not paying attention at all to what I’m eating (this is a terrible habit and one I’m trying to stop; I want to appreciate what I’m eating!). Bathing? I’ll risk damaging my tablet and awkwardly balancing the e-reader while I soak in the tub.
Sleep? We all know the answer to that!
Sneezy: When a book takes over my life, I’m, well, fucked. I’d be up at three in the morning, assuring myself that this is the last page, just like I’d have been doing for the last four hours. I’d also read on transit (one time I missed my stop no less than four times), while waiting for transit. *But never on taxis, a ride-sharing service, or when someone I don’t know well or trust is in the car! The person in the car with me might be the one charged with knocking me out while the other person drives!*
While cooking – insist it’s a ‘hot pot’ when really it’s just everything thrown in a pot of water with no rhyme or reason, stir-fry things on autopilot while reading on my phone, or punt things into the oven and tell it to do the rest (in which it’s important to close your oven door and spend a second setting the correct time and temperature). While I brush my teeth. While blow drying my hair. While I’m stretching.
I might even read as I walk – which is mostly a hard copy thing. I find reading on my phone greatly reduces my peripheral vision, plus people tend to assume whoever is walking around on their phones is a mega douche. It’s no loss though, since reading on my phone gives me a lot more pockets of time that more than makes up for not reading while walking, which yeah, I know, terrible habit. The extra nooks include any moment that stretches longer than two blinks, like when I’m waiting in line, waiting for my friend/family/colleague, waiting for food or drink, or riding on escalators.
Speaking of phones, does anyone else feel like people are just generally more judgey and angry when they see someone on their phone versus a book? I’ve noticed people actively skirt around me if I’m walking around with a hard copy, and I’ve never seen articles complaining about bookworms. But if I’m in the corner on my phone, it’s omigerd-get-off-your-phone-you-millenial-I-hope-you-step-in-dog-poop-horse-poop-cat-poop-all-the-poops-get-run-over-and-die.
Other than that, if I suspect a book will emotionally wreck me, I put it off for when I will have time to read it in one slurp and question my existence as I sob into a muffin.
Catherine: I also read while walking. Walking to the shops, walking to catch the tram, walking down the corridors at work. If I’m walking, I have a book or my Kobo in my hand. I’ve been doing this since primary school and in spite of many people telling me that I should not, so I expect that this won’t change any time soon. And yes, I do mean reading, not listening to audiobooks. And no, I don’t walk into things or fall over when I’m reading (when I’m not reading, all bets are off). This is possibly because I’ve spent more time in my life reading while walking than walking while not reading, so I’m better at it…
I will read during my lunch break, if I can find somewhere to hide from friendly people (friendly people are the worst when you have a good book). I will read while cooking, if it’s something that can be dealt with one-handed, or if there are breaks when I’m stirring things or waiting for things to cook or whatever.
I will also read doing physiotherapy exercises. My physio would not approve of this, so let’s hope she isn’t a reader of this site. But physio is boring and books are interesting and I figure that doing my physio at 70% effectiveness every day is better than doing it at 100% effectiveness on some days and not at all on others, so I persist.
Other than that, I’m a fully paid-up member of the Bad Decisions Book Club, which has been made even easier by the advent of self-lighting e-readers – no more need for a torch under the covers! And I read on the loo, of course. Doesn’t everybody? Nobody else has mentioned it, perhaps because the rest of you are all too genteel. But I am not genteel, and I am not going to waste a moment of time that could be spent with a book.
Amanda: I so value my sleep. If I’m staying up late to finish a book, you know things are getting pretty serious. If possible, I’ll try to find an audio version of the book, as well. That way I can listen to it while walking to the subway and then pick up reading later when I’m home.
Tara: It takes a special book for me to be in the Bad Decisions Book Club, so it’s only happened a couple of times this year so far. Those are also the books that are so good that I’ll let my kids have a little extra Netflix with a bowl of goldfish crackers so I can read for longer.
If an audio book really grabs my attention, then I’ll also find myself suddenly motivated to catch up on my ironing or other typically mundane tasks that I can do while listening.
Elyse: As a founding member of the Bad Decisions Book Club, I have stayed up way too late many nights reading. My entire life is staying up too late reading. I might have been up till 3 a.m. last night. A few years ago we went on vacation to Costa Rica and my husband woke up ready for coffee and a swim only to realize I still hadn’t gone to bed. It’s bad enough that I plan time off around certain books being released. I’m sure my boss thinks it’s odd that I take random Tuesdays off as opposed to a long weekend.
I read a lot of thrillers, mysteries and romantic suspense. Once I’m hooked on a plot line, if I can’t suss out what’s going to happen, it’s not uncommon for me to stay up all night reading. I can’t go to sleep! I have to know what happens! I’ve gone to work on 3 or 4 hours of sleep due to a book more than once.
I don’t do this with TV shows, though. I can totally go to bed right after a big reveal. I think the immersive nature of reading is what pulls me in. I also really like reading at night when the house is quiet and dark and I have a cat curled up against me, so that likely compounds it.
Lara Diane: The Bad Decisions Book Club is a natural state of being for me. As a freelancer, I have a little too much control over my time and a good book (like Amanda’s recommendation The Blacksmith Queen erases many chores, tasks and plans. I’ve also figured out how to knit and read at the same time. It’s a (literal) balancing act, but possible!
AJ: A good book is a one-way ticket to Hyperfocus Town for me, so it’s more a question of when one isn’t taking over my waking life. I have to be strategic about timing my reading or it’s Bad Decisions Book Club 4 Lyfe.
I have a blanket No Starting Books After 10 PM rule (that I, uh, frequently ignore).
I try not to read before work, either, because then I end up being like “I don’t have to stop, I still have half an hour … uh, fifteen minutes … no, it’s okay, five minutes is a perfectly fine amount of time to shower, get dressed and pack lunch.”
Spoiler: No, it’s not. I can make it to work on time but sometimes my outfits are … let’s say ‘not coordinated.’
If I’m in the middle of a book but I absolutely must leave the house, I start taking it along on errands that couldn’t possibly involve any downtime. Grocery shopping? Just a few pages in the car before I go in. Getting gas? I can read with one hand and hold the nozzle with the other. One time a friend dragged me out to a bar and then ditched me, so I spent the entire night in the corner next to the pinball machine reading urban fantasy.
Best time I’ve ever had at a bar, to be honest. 10/10 would recommend.
What about you? Do you find extra pockets of reading time in your schedule when a book really grabs you with both hands and won’t let go? What are yours?
The post Discussion: What Are Your Stages of a Book Taking Over Your Waking Life? appeared first on NeedaBook.