Never Just Objects: Finding Time To Read

Never Just Objects: Finding Time To Read

Over the past month and a half, I’ve been making a serious effort with my book blog, as well as joining the (sometimes intimidating) world of #bookstagram. Every day since early August, I’ve posted pictures of books on Instagram, some of which have taken an hour or two to set up and take. (Others are, of course, much quicker.)

Yet in that same period, I’ve also been struggling to find time to read, and the two things aren’t unrelated.

Obviously, the hours I’ve put into taking book photos aren’t solely responsible for my lack of reading. I have a job now, one that takes a considerable amount of my time and even more of my energy. In August, I was preparing for Pitch Wars, so most of my reading time was dedicated to writing. Plus, I’ve been suffering from severe headaches, which have really limited my ability to do anything.

I should also add the caveat that what I consider to be “very little reading” is not the same as most people’s idea of the same, since I’ve always been a fast and constant reader. I read around 17 books in August — not a small number by anyone’s standards, but less than I wanted to read, and the list of things I want to read or reread seems to get longer every day.

All of this is fine. Normal. We all go through busy patches, and I need to settle down in this job before I start beating myself up about not doing things outside of it. I’ve also been in a bit of a reading slump, finding it hard to stay focused… but part of that is my apparent inability to just put my phone down and focus on a book for a couple of hours at a time, the way I used to.

I told myself when I started taking book photos that I wouldn’t let myself get to the point where books were just objects. I wasn’t going to acquire them just to look nice on a shelf or in a flatlay. Sure, if they do, that’s a bonus, and a reason to buy paper copies over ebooks when I can… but ultimately, it’s the contents that matters.

Books make great decor, I’ve always thought that, but I never want them to be only decor. I never want to look around my room and realise I’ve only read half the books I own because I just kept adding to them, you know? I’m nowhere near that state at present — it’s rare for me to buy books I haven’t already read and enjoyed, unless they’re by favourite authors — but it’s easy to get to that point if I don’t consciously think about it.

In other words, I need to make time to read. To work through my ambitious stack of library books, to get through the ARCs building up on my Kindle, to reread the books whose sequels I’ve pre-ordered. And that’s tough, when I spend most of my days off sleeping and taking photos and sleeping again (this time unintentionally).

I made a little bit of headway by delving into the world of audiobooks at work, on days when I’m doing repetitive tasks that don’t involve engaging with the outside world. I’ve made it through six so far, and have all but exhausted my local library’s supply of audiobooks that interest me. Now I’m raiding Cambridgeshire libraries too, since I still have a library card there. But it’s going to take a couple of work days to get through any audiobook at the best of times, so it’s not exactly the speediest way of doing it, and the vast majority of books I want to get through are not on audio.

Something must be done, I thought to myself a couple of days ago. We’ve gotta fix this.

So, a plan was formed.

Step one: decide to read a book. This part seems easy enough; I have a list the length of my arm of things to get through.

Step two: turn off my phone.

I firmly believe technology and books can coexist and complement each other, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m kind of glued to my mobile. Joining the bookstagram world doesn’t just mean I spend a lot of time TAKING photos — I also spend a lot of time looking at other people’s photos, idly refreshing Instagram even when timezones mean nobody’s online. And that’s on top of all my previous social media habits, which were bad enough.

So. Step two. Decide that right now is the time to read, and switch off my phone. It’s better for the battery, anyway, and the only way I’m going to get through anything without being distracted is if it’s not there to distract me.

I tried it this evening. Got 100 pages into the book I’d planned to read and then, finger between the pages to keep my place, fell asleep curled up in the armchair, and stayed there for an hour and a half.

Welp. Maybe I should find time to sleep properly first, and work on the reading afterwards. Anyone got any tips?

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16 thoughts on “Never Just Objects: Finding Time To Read

  1. I reeeelate. See this is why you whooped me in reading last year because I spend an absolute ridiculous amount of time taking/editing photos. 😂And then blogging and then writing reviews and then editing/writing my own novels…and suddenly it’s 11pm at night and I realise I HAVEN’T READ BUT I CALL MYSELF A BOOK BLOGGER. Also attention spans. What are they. Where can I buy a longer one. 😭I try to read 18 books a month but I’ve only read 11 this month and I’m kind of frustrated at myself bleh.

    1. Yeah :( I think I just need to … fall back in love with the actual experience of reading. I like to have read, but I’ve got out of the habit of enjoying reading, if that makes sense.

  2. This is so relatable wow. I am trying not to get any more physical books, because I realised that I was buying them as an impulse and not because I actually wanted them. I still love the books I have and I love having books, but I take far fewer picture sthan I used to. It’s a complicated thing, the physicality of books, because they are so compelling and good looking but it isn’t how they look that matters. and like you I also find it hard to know when to read and when to put my phone down. I’ve tried to make my criteria for owning books ‘would I lend it to a friend’ and that’s good but my friends don’t seem to have much time to read. I also find it hard to prioritise physical books when I have digital books on my kobo with a time limit, because they’re gonna expire from the library.

    1. Haha I’m pretty selective about whether I’ll lend books to friends. My criteria is usually whether I’d like to read a book again (bc I tend to read from the library the first time) and if I own other books by that author (it’s nice to own complete series), but I break it a lot and just… pick things up secondhand

  3. Never enough time, but there’s sometimes more than we think. (I wrote about this on my latest blog post.) Love that you tell yourself: now it’s time to read. I find myself doing two or three things at a time, poorly, instead of just one–and reading a book we want to love demands our whole attention, I think. Thanks for giving me a lot to think about!

    1. Yeah, the temptation to multitask is real. Especially when doing things that don’t feel actively productive. I’m trying to get better at letting myself just do one thing, and do it properly.

    1. Setting alarms for tasks sounds a little bit too much like revising for finals, I’m not sure I’m ready for those flashbacks yet…! 😂 but I’m trying to get better at turning off notifications or, more effectively, just turning off the whole phone (since I’m prone to refreshing constantly even when nobody’s online…)

  4. This is so me. I’m glued to my phone but last week I switched it off and put it away in a drawer and I actually finished a book (and started another one) It’s hard to disconnect from things sometimes.

  5. I started the year really well, catching up on my reading list I devoured 52 books in the first three months of the year…but I’m slacking now, and your article brought home to me that I have to make it a priority! Your descriptions of new books were so tantalising as I travel full time, with a 45 litre backpack, so zero space for books. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Travelling full time sounds HARDCORE. I’m definitely not the wanderlust type so I can’t even imagine what that’s like 😮 But I think I need to take a more minimalist approach to possessions, because I own way too much stuff, and if I ever move out it’s gonna be a struggle 😂

    1. Yeah, I don’t even like to think about how many unread books there are on my Kindle… The physical books are *just* about under control. Mostly. The Kindle books, on the other hand… so many impulse buys!

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