Finding Time to Read

Well, we've got 11 books on our reading list, and as many months to read them. And even though we've said you don't have to read 11 books in the year, for many of us even half of that will be a stretch. Reading is something that a lot of us just don't have the time for these days. It's for that reason that I thought it might help if we think through a few ways for how to make the time. Here are some of my ideas, and you can add your own in the comments!

1) Set a (realistic) goal for how many books you'd like to read

In many things in life, it helps to plan. I think it's the same with reading. I find it useful to sit down from time to time and work out what books I want to read and compile them in a list. My big weakness, though, is that I'm often totally unrealistic in the number of books I set out to read! I've just looked back at the list I wrote for myself at the start of the year and there's no way I'm going to make it through it in 2008. In working out what books you want to read (from the EQUIP book club list or otherwise), it will probably work best to be realistic. A good starting point might be to think about how many books you've read in the last year and then add a few to that number - that way you'll be setting a goal which will have you reading more and will be realistic!

2) Read it with friends

In order to motivate yourself in your reading, you might want to ask a friend or two if they want to read through the book at the same time. If you can talk about a book you are reading with friends, that can be a great motivator to read, and can add to the enjoyment of reading too. You could do it very informally, or you could make it a more formal arrangement and meet up for that specific purpose. You could even start a mini EQUIP book club, where you meet together to discuss the EQUIP book of the month together.

3) Cut something out to make some time (the most obvious suspect is TV!)

The most obvious way to find time to read is to cut time from another activity. I suspect for many of us, the biggest time waster we have in our lives will be the TV (although computers and other technology are fast catching up). This quote from John Piper sums up a lot of what is wrong with TV:
Television is one of the greatest life-wasters of the modern age. And, of course, the Internet is running to catch up, and may have caught up. You can be more selective on the Internet, but you can also select worse things with only the Judge of the universe watching. TV still reigns as the great life-waster. The main problem with TV is not how much smut is available, though that is a problem. Just the ads are enough to sow fertile seeds of greed and lust, no matter what program you're watching. The greater problem is banality. A mind fed daily on TV diminishes. Your mind was made to know and love God. Its facility for this great calling is ruined by excessive TV. The content is so trivial and so shallow that the capacity of the mind to think worthy thoughts withers, and the capacity of the heart to feel deep emotions shrivels. (Don't Waste Your Life, p. 120)
I'm not saying that there is nothing on TV with any artistic or intellectual merit, or that books are always better and deeper and worthier than TV shows (there are some pretty trashy books out there!). Nor am I saying the only Christian option is to throw the TV out completely (I would be a hypocrite if I said that - although I respect those who have made that decision). I do think there are ways we can cut back on TV and leave time for more important things, of which reading is just one. Here are some ideas I've come across:

1) Only watch things that you've taped first. That means you are working out in advance what you really want to watch and aren't just sitting passively in front of the TV to see what comes on next. It also means you can fast forward the ads!

2) Do everything else (eg. reading) first, and only then watch the show you taped, if there is still time before bedtime.

3) Cull one show. (You may go through a grieving process for a week or two, but trust me, the pain wears off pretty quick!).

4) And the more radical approach: give away the TV set. Like I said, I haven't gone that far yet, but I have friends who have and they seem to have survived the experience so far!

So there are a few suggestions. Feel free to comment with some other ideas you've come up with.

Photos from stockxchng.