Pondering Moment: How Do You Read So Many Books?

Not sure if this will become an occasional meme or not but there are a few questions that I get asked time and time again and this is one of them.

How Do I Read So Many Books?

Well, I am not a speed reader.  If anything I am a thorough reader.  By that I mean if I am reading along and suddenly something happens in the book that makes me go, “Wait a minute… I thought….”  I will actually back track through the book to make sure I am fully understanding.

The only way I can read what I do is that I feel I have an unusual life.  What do I mean?  Well, there are many things that take the place of reading time for others that I don’t have – such as:

  • We had our kids young.  Most of my friends still have kids at home.  We do not.  Our boys are 19 and 22.  The 19 year old goes to college 3 hours away and the 22 year old is in the Navy.
  • My work schedule is flexible.  We own our own business and I help out with payroll and invoices, but I can do that anytime, at midnight if I want to.  Other than that, we have office personal to handle the day to day stuff.  I work at our church office as the Office Manager 3 days a week from 9 – 2, Tues, Wed, Thurs.  I have long weekends.
  • My husband – works a lot!  He loves it!  He is out of the house by 5 am and back home usually around 6 – 8 pm.  He eats dinner, watches a little tv and is usually in bed by 9 pm.

All of these things factor into my reading time.  I prefer to read over watch tv so from the time Al goes to bed, until I do (about 1 am) I usually read.  If its a really good book… I have stayed up later!  🙂  I sometimes have a little reading time in the afternoon after work.  Weekends, if Al is working, I am usually reading once I have house work done.  If we travel to our cabin, he drives, I read for the 3 1/2 hour road trip…. if I drive, we listen to audio books.

There is an audio going in my vehicle at almost all times.  I prefer the story to music.  Sometimes, like the one I am listening to now, is getting so good – I will have to bring it in the house and listen to it while I prepare dinner.   Wherever I go, I have a book.  There is always a book in my car and/or in my purse.  Trains, long stop lights, waiting at appointments…. I am never bored.  When I work out on the tread mill or elliptical, I am reading.

I don’t read every day – but almost.  It is my absolute favorite pastime.  With winter here – I do not have the bike events like I do Spring thru Fall so I have even more time.

How about you – when and where do you read?

Do you have certain times of day or rituals to your reading schedule?

Do you read several books at once or do you have one going at a time?

71 thoughts on “Pondering Moment: How Do You Read So Many Books?

  1. Sheila, Thanks for talking about this. I’m always amazed when I learn that someone reads a book a day, I saw one blogger mention they have read over 400 books in 2009…. now that I think about this, I wonder if they are including children’s books, hmmm.

    I’m in my young 40’s and am an empty nester. I also read while my husband watches tv at night. I’m outside running for hours a day as I train for a few personal goals, I work 60-70 hours a week! I guess I just don’t have time :).

    I can’t wait to read the replies. Florinda (3R’s) has a good discussion going on this week to – topic: selective reading/reviewing. check her blog out for details.

    2010 will be a fun year for this community.

    1. Oh good Mari – I was hoping you would see this! 🙂 I was going to email you!

      I too am in my young 40’s. I do more outdoor workouts in the warm days. I havent counted what I have read this but they would include a mix of novels, to short 1-2 hour reads as well as childrens books.

      I will check out Florinda’s discussion… it does sound good! 🙂 Thanks!

      1. I’m off to the gym but wanted to say… I’m so envious of wordpress comment system!

        I’m listening to The Piano Teacher, I will get in about 2 hours of listening today (don’t you love to listen when you vacuum)? I have two labs = lot’s fur = at least 2 vacuum sessions a week!

        Have a great weekend

  2. I will echo one of the same ideas…I always have a book with me! We had our kids young too, and I’m still number one chauffeur for the youngest! Whether I’m sitting in the parking lot waiting for my child or the old days, when we had to arrive an hour and a half early for traveling soccer or bball games, I always had something to read. It saved us a lot of money in those early days…we weren’t always off killing time at a coffee shop or fast food restaurant before game time!

    I do prefer to read one book at a time, but once in a while, I’ll overlap something, especially if I’m under a deadline from the library!

    1. Julie H – I really need to start using my library. I feel bad but I cant even remember the last time I checked out a book. I have too many on my shelves!

      I think I signed up for a challenge this year to do better on that (I will have to look!) I really do need to be more a part of our local library.

  3. I can’t imagine what it would be like to get up at 5.00am and return home at between 6 and 8.00pm. It wouldn’t matter how much I loved the job, I would not want it to take over my life. When I wrote the book, ‘Another Day in Paradise’, it took me eleven weeks solid – 250,000 words and 619 pages and I did it by hand. I was in a special situation at the time which allowed me the freedom, but what matters most is your family or at least it is to me. Each to his/her own.

    1. HI Mark – Oh I hear you! As a business owner he just loves to meet with the customers and be supervising our employees. It hasnt always been easy but I do know he loves what he does.

  4. I always enjoy reading about other people’s reading habits! Thanks so much for this post. I think how much we read is pretty relative. i reached my goal of 100 books this year (I think I’m at 110) but now that I reached next year I plan on reading more purposeful. I fee slightly envious when I see people who have read 400 books, but then again, I don’t think I could just read every hour of the day. I do like socializing a bit too much for that 🙂

    1. HI Christina – I think I reached 100 books this year but havent counted yet. I think I will do a wrap up post at the end of the year. 🙂 I wouldnt even imagine ever hitting 400 in a year! WOW!

  5. I read one book at a time – but unlike you I am a speed reader. I do go back though and reread things if something is not making sense, but when I finish a book I can easily tell you everything that has happened. So in that way, I’m able to read about a book a day (which can make for a lot of expense – thank goodness for a good library!)

    I always have a book with me. In my purse I carry my Kindle and usually whatever library book I’m reading. I babysit a lot at night, so I always have quiet times to read between 8pm-12ish am. During the day I’m only responsible for housework and that takes about 2-3 hours of my daytime so I get a lot of reading time in then. Also, I spend about 2 hours a day sitting in carpool lines and that makes for great reading time as well.

  6. Thanks for your reply. I guess you have to do what is necessary. Hopefully it will pay dividends. If you get the chance as an avid reader, I would be delighted to hear your comments on my book. It’s a novel based on a true story and it’s been getting great reviews over here in the UK. ISBN 9780956419804 – Amazon and all the usual outlets or direct at http://www.anotherdayinparadise.co.uk Not just a plug, but a genuine offer.

  7. You and I are in the same boat with kids. Although I didn’t have mine young, they are older. I got in the habit of audio books when I was taking teens to activities. I’d plug my ears up so I wouldn’t have to hear the other parents.

    What you see today isn’t what I was four years ago. Back then, I was lucky to read a book a week. I’ve slowly learned to read faster and dedicate more time to reading. I read several hours a day. If not, I wouldn’t read as much as I do. I am a SLOW reader. 😉

    Now that I will be reading more of what I want, I have a feeling the amount of books will pick up. If I don’t have a list of books to read for review, I like to read more than one than one book at a time. I get pleasure in that.

    1. Oh yes – I get different seasons of life…. when my kids were younger I was lucky if I got a book in a month! From grade school to my teens I always had a book in my hand and won the school book worm award again and again.

      I usually have more than one going at once too…. sometimes I am not in the mood for mystery so I will switch to chick lit, or historical fiction…
      Its kind of fun to look back and see the years I really read and the ones I didn’t…. I hope I never have to lull again 🙂

  8. I too have a very flexible schedule but I don’t read nearly as much as you do. I think I have a bit of an ADD nature. Too many things I like to do that grab my attention. I usually read one book and listen to one. This month I’m reading two and listening to one, well two at the moment but one is very short. The second book is the Christmas one I’m reading one chapter a night until Christmas eve, so in January I’ll go back to reading one at a time.

  9. I’m a single mom of two young girls ages 9 and 3. I work full time and I have a 45 minute commute to my office. I’m blessed with a somewhat flexible schedule and so I always carry a book with me just in case I find a moment to sit down and read. When I get home from work I have to get the girls in the door and catch up with them about their days and make dinner then it’s bath time and snuggle time and bed time and then it’s time for me to get ready for the next day. Check my calendar. blah blah blah. Then I get a moment to call my boyfriend who lives 1,000+ miles away and when that conversation is over I get to open my book and if I stay awake I get to finish a chapter. Then two weekends a month my daughters go with their Dad and that gives me a full weekend of reading and doing all of the other things that I don’t get to do when the girls are here. That being said I think it’s AWESOME that I’ve read 22 books in 2009. 😉

    I have to admit I’m a bit envious when I see bloggers who read and review so prolifically. At this point in my life I just do what I can when I can.

    Thanks for the great post with discussion.

  10. This was a great post. I always have 3 books going. An audio book in the car, an audio book on my IPOD (before bed at night or when doing housework), and a print book as well. Our kids are grown and gone, my husband is retired and I am not working now either so that leaves plenty of reading time. So for me a reading goal of 200 books a year is attainable most years.

    1. Wow Diane – 200! Maybe this year….. this will be my first year of blogging for a full year. My reading has certainly increased with the blogging I started this past June.

  11. Sheila,

    Audio Books are so good for catching up on reading and I’m glad you made a point of it. Audio books are a part of my daily routine; I almost always listen to one while I’m in the gym, while doing the weekly grocery shopping and while driving.

    My iPhone helps out too; I’ve got the Kindle app for iPhone and have a book with me wherever I go for those times I’m standing in long lines, waiting rooms, etc.

    I also go old school and sit down to read ‘the old fashioned way’ every day.

    If something is important enough to us we’ll find a way!


    1. HI Howard – the whole audio world is one I am really enjoying. The times where I cant hold still to read a book (which is often) like you – I can take the book with my while working out, biking, working in my home… etc… 🙂

  12. I have one son who is 14 and pretty self-sufficient so I do have a lot of free time to read. Being a librarian at a middle-school also helps!! Whenever I have down time I’m reading!

  13. I think that I have been able to read more by reading as you do. I take a book with me everywhere I go. Even if I am just planning on a quick errand I still take a book with me because you just never know when you are going to be standing in line. I also use audiobooks o pass the time as I am doing chores around the house or running errands around the neighborhood. I am not an especially fast reader, but I do make my reading time count.

  14. I probably have even more time than you do. Our son is away at college and I don’t work outside of the home. I watch very little TV and when I do, I usually have a book close by for commercials.

    1. I think you do to Kathy! Thats funny as my book is always by me for commercials too if AL and I are watching something on tv. As soon as he is in bed, the tv usually goes off. 🙂

  15. I can only read one book at a time. I think I will change that slightly come January as I am starting an on-going classics read with my good friend, so I’ll be reading one classic or another for much of the year while keeping other books on the go at the same time. I pretty much like to come home from work and read. I also do some reading on my commute, but it’s not too long a commute.

  16. Thanks for the post on reading. I always wonder the same question. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can but it really does get hard. I would LOVE to read more, but with working full time and a kid with sports homework and all the happy stuff that goes with school at the age of 10. My husband works a night shift which gives me my evening time to blog and read, but always wanting more. He is also an extremely motivated person who keeps pushing to do other things too. I love doing things around the house to make it better but I would much rather be reading my book. LOL. So he gets me busy with other projects too. Well, it is hard to balance life and reading together.

    1. It is harder when the kids are younger Melissa – we had all the sports and events too with our boys and you just spend years running from event to event it seems. 🙂

  17. My kids go to bed at 8, even the 16yo. I don’t go to bed before midnight most nights so I have all that time to myself. Sometimes I read, sometimes I watch a little something online(I ❤ abc.com). Someday the kids will be out of the house and I'll have even more time to read. Someday.

    1. Ryan I worked retail for 14 years and I remember those long hours this time of year. Sadly, seems like by the time we got to Christmas I was just glad to have a a day off.

      I know where you are at and January is coming! 🙂

  18. I have the luxury of not having to work outside the house, so I have loads of time to read. And I read LOADS of books. My only problem with that is that I slack on writing reviews and then have to take a day or so to go back and review the books and then schedule them to be posted so that they don’t all post at once. I really need to start taking the time to review as I go. Maybe that should be one of my New Years Resolutions.

    1. Vicki I get that way too where I have several reviews to write and need to plan them out so they dont pile up. I am trying to get better at that by blogging little notes into a draft post of my review. That way I capture those things I do not want to forget to share. 🙂

  19. I wish I had more time to read! I usually get through only one book a week. I am a teacher librarian so if the library is slow (like the Friday before vacation) I justify reading while I am at the circulation desk (modeling good behavior and all). I have a 9-year-old so try to read after she goes to bed. Unfortunately, I usually fall asleep within about 30 minutes. But…I do have those extended vacations when I can read.

    1. Helen – LOL to modeling good behavior. I have thought many times about working in a Library or bookstore and then wonder would it add to my reading or take away…. as much as I would love to be surrounded by books all the time… I dont know if I could stand not picking them up and curling into a corner. I would be so fired…. LOL

  20. I don’t watch very much tv, and so that really gives me a lot of time to read in the evenings while my husband watches the tv. On weekends when we’re all at home and not doing anything it’s easy to find time to read because they boys and my husband love to watch cartoons or movies and I will read while they watch. I also listen to audiobooks when the kids aren’t in the car, and read in the morning when my boys are both at school (3 days a week). I agree with what you said about never being bored – I’m that way too. (Although I do think my housework suffers from my reading – it’s just so much more fun than housework.)

  21. As an attorney you would think that I do not want to read anymore than necessary-but I adore reading. There is always a book in my car-sometimes in my briefcase-depending on whose courtroom I am in. I always have a book with me. I will read over watching tv-I read every night before bed and during the eve. In the summer I can go through a book while at the beach. I have no children -just two adorable cats and a husband. I always find playtime for them after work.

    I just discovered audio books this year-I have listened to them in the past-but now I seek them out with a ferocity. There is lots of time in S. Cal to listen in the car.

    My library has introduced downloadable books-yippee-I just need to learn to be more computer literate.

    I will take a book everywhere-post office-doctor.

  22. I’ve been “away” from the computer for a few days, due to computer malfunction (sad!), but now I’m back and what a lively conversation this is!

    I’m always reading, too, but I do stop for the occasional TV show. I get up very early and work on the computer, then I read, watch a little TV, read some more, etc.

    I sometimes have more than one going, especially if I’m going out. I will put a smaller book in my bag for ease of transport…But that’s another thing. Always one in my bag. I even joined a Friday meme called “What’s in your Handbag?”

  23. I am blessed to be able to be a stay at home mom after 13 years as a hard working single mom. Like you, I NEVER get bored! I try to read every day, and I also carry a book with me at all times so I read every moment I can.

  24. I don’t read near as much as I’d like. I’m not an audio fan (just can’t concentrate on them!) and I can’t read in the car (big bummer!). I do keep a book in the car to read while hubby goes shopping (I hate shopping!) or while waiting on others to get in the car (big issue at my house!!) My favorite place to read is curled up under my blankie with a diet dr. pepper at my side.
    I’ve maybe read 100 books this year…if I’m lucky. Some months are better than others. This month I’m having a hard time reading much.

  25. I’m like you–not a speed reader. I’m also usually a fairly monogamous reader (though I have an audio book going at the same time), but I think it’s really just about making time for doing something that you love to do!

  26. Thanks for posting this. I’m constantly amazed at bloggers who read several books a week or more! As a busy mom of two young sons and wife of a pilot with a crazy schedule (and only having 1 car for the family), I’ve just got to remember that there will come a day when I’ll have more time to read. And of course by then, I’ll be missing my babies when they’re all grown!


    1. It was a fun post to do Laura. I was getting asked all the time how I could keep up with the reading that I do. I know people are juggling full time jobs, kids, family, etc… it is a season in my life that isnt too crazy now. 🙂

  27. I get asked this question a lot too. Like you, I don’t have the pitter patter of little feet around, so that is probably the biggest help. (Well, I have two dogs, but they have big feet)

    I have never gotten the hang of audio books, too easy for me to tune out. I bet that if I did, I would be reading even more.

  28. I have to admit I loved reading about how you make time for reading! I’m a college student and time management is not my strongest point. I always wish I was reading more – but sometimes paper writing, studying, and research just get in the way. But no excuses! You make time for things you enjoy which is why I always carry a book with me too – you never know when you’ll come across some free time.

    1. Jennifer – it is an addiction. Save yourself. LOL!

      I actually wake up sometimes craving to know where the story goes from there…. I cant wait to open it and I get in bits and pieces whenever I can. Its a wonder I retain it!

  29. Hey Sheila just read your book reading schedule. I’m a college student from India and where books are concerned….. ITS MY LIFE ! I get up at 6 am every morning and before you know it , my mother finds me with a book. My college starts at 7:30 am everyday except Sundays and I also teach Sunday school & tutor 5th graders at home to help my mother out since she is a retired teacher. My reading schedule believe it or not is — in a word —- WACKY ! I read at college during free lectures , while my students are doing an exam paper , and then i read devoutly FROM 8:30 pm that is after my students leave ( they come around 1: 30 pm ) TILL 4:30 am sharp !!!!!!!!! AFTER WHICH I SLEEP AND THEN , back to college. My friends hearing about my reading habits wonder how come I stand first in class and also manage to look healthy and fresh every morning ? I’ve never really told them what books mean to me but, I guess I’ll let you know because I see a bit of myself in you. In India books are not only considered to be sources of knowledge but….another name and let us say an image of God. So for me at age 21, reading good books is my way of saying ‘ I love to know the beautiful world and the beautiful people that write these books inspired by a source …. an imagination much beyond their comprehension. ‘ Happy Easter & keep on reading !

  30. i, frankly, read too much. i’ve been told multiple times, and i know it’s true. i’m often found reading when i should be doing my homework, piano, getting dressed(:D), etc. but reading is basically my life!! i can’t live without it, especially with being shy and not good at sports…with no sports teams and not a lot of after school activities, i find myself with a lot of free time.
    i would choose books over TV or the computer anyday.
    i know exactly what you mean about being a ‘thorough reader’. i can read a paragraph up to five times before it finally sinks in!
    usually, i can read more than one book. i can handle three at once, but i recommend to never get up to six! it gets really confusing, and you wonder why the guy in the book your reading has come back to life…
    most times though, one is good. when i read the Hunger Games, i came home from school one day, forgot my homework, my brothers, and just read for four hours straight! my dad got pretty mad, but i just didn’t care-it’s that good! i’ve read it four or five times now, and it still doesn’t get old!

  31. I think i will attempt audio books when my kids are older. I read all the time though. We don’t have TV, so its my escape minus the internet. I have to read or i get stressed. It usually calms me so i can have more patience for the kids if i can escape to book land for awhile. Great post!

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