Finding time

Last week’s Guardian included an article on the challenge of finding time to read, including examples of professional book readers who seem to be facing this issue. I didn’t know there were jobs where you really were paid to read – ah, it turns out you have to do something else, like edit the books or critique them, so actually my dream job doesn’t exist after all. I can, however, certainly relate to the problem of finding time to read. I’ve mentioned before that one solution is audiobooks, which currently gets me a good hour of reading time a day and has the other advantage of avoiding at least some of the Punch and Judy show that we call the General Election. But it’s not a substitute for sitting down and reading until it’s a few hours after you really should have gone to bed, but you just want to know what happens next, what your favourite character is going to do… and never mind the consequences on the next day’s productivity.

Apparently, reading a book instead of watching television doesn’t work in freeing up time to read. From experience, I can’t see why it doesn’t. It was the first thing to go in my case, following the Groucho Marx adage of

I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.

(I confess that I got the ‘exact’ wording from the internet, where there appears to be a range of possible combinations of words used, which I hope in fact reflect something he did write or say, but even if he didn’t, I like the sentiment.)

And the other ‘traditional’ solution of always having a book with you appears to have mixed reviews. When I do have a book with me, I find that there are always opportunities to use otherwise unproductive time to read it – walking about town on an errand (watch for lampposts that jump out at you), waiting for someone, even walking to or from your car. But what that doesn’t give us is the immersive experience of being in a different place, a different time, a different person’s head. We can sometimes just dip in and out.

Credit to Penguin books, though. They’ve brought out a series of ‘Little Black Classics’ at the attractive price of 80p (and no, Amazon aren’t cheaper than your local book shop).


Please note the themed Easter tablecloth…

I was more than a little impressed by the selection and quality of the books they included. When the summary of some of the stories includes ‘Kafka’s favourite story’, ‘considered by James Joyce to be the world’s greatest story’, ‘three short stories by the modern master of the form’, ‘transformed the modern world and still shapes millions of lives today’, the chances are they are worth reading. They are also relatively short – perfect for the odd moments when we can snatch some reading time. But you still need hours on end for the full length novels.

I have a little card lying around that I picked up from a local bookshop a few years ago – “Eat. Sleep. Read.” If only.

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