We will never read all the books we “mean” to – and that’s okay.
Whether it’s the act of reading that brings you calm or the security in knowing that it is a major part of how you identify as a person in the world, you are more than the books you read.
Even if it has dramatically changed the course of your life, it doesn’t define you entirely. To be a person in the world is to be complex and multi-dimensional and it’s a liberating feeling to allow yourself that right to multiplicity.
And think about it – why would you want to put that kind of pressure on yourself? Reading isn’t a sport. Yeah, the Goodreads yearly challenge may make you feel like it is, but then again maybe that’s the problem. Other people are able to judge you by the expectations you set for yourself.
This quote from a translated edition of Counsels and Maxims, the essays of Arthur Schopenhauer, summarizes the immortal struggle of the reader perfectly:
Buying books would be a good thing if one could also buy the time to read them; but as a rule the purchase of books is mistaken for the appropriation of their contents.
Why do we yearn to crush a TBR that never ceases to grow? Why are some books deemed “literary” and others are simply fodder for the genre?
I’m personally convinced it’s because we determine our intellectual value by not only the amount of books we’ve read, but how fast we can read them. But I’m open to discussing why it could be otherwise – it’s a phenomenon I’m genuinely interested in. And I wonder just how far back it dates.
Schopenhauer was on the ball with his observation because he’s right, we simply do not have the time to read all the books we buy or borrow but what do we do with a problem like that?
I’m glad you asked. Here are FIVE of my own tips on how to manage your time as a reader:
- Make a clear divide in your own personal book collection between the books that’ve already been read and those you plan to read in the near future. As much as I hate to say it, the rest don’t need to be in your space. Give them away to friends or family, donate them, sell them – just get rid of them.
- Always reach for paperback. But you prefer hardcover? Then keep those at home to read. Paperback copies are way easier to commute with because they take up less space.
- Which brings me to my next point – bring a book with you EVERYWHERE you go. And no I’m not just talking about work or school. Instead of taking your phone into the bathroom, take a book. In a long line at the grocery store? Take out your book. Stuck in a traffic jam on the highway, play an audio book. What – did you think I was gonna say take out a book, god no. Eyes on the road, this blog promotes safe driving, thank you very much.
- Listening to an audiobook counts as reading a book. And you don’t even have to invest in a monthly membership, I guarantee your local library has a great collection of audiobooks for you to listen to. Listen to a book while doing mindless tasks you’d otherwise be bored out of your mind while doing!
- And finally, just chill out. I know you were probably expecting the best of the best with this last tip, but no, cheeky consolation is all I have to offer, dear reader. Spend some time with loved ones and, I don’t know, play checkers. Reading isn’t the only way to stimulate your mind and you become a better reader when you take breaks every now and then, don’t oversaturate that precious brain of yours.
If you’ve read the entirety of my first post – wow, thank you! – I’d love it if you could comment below and share one other thing you pride yourself on being other than a reader. It could be your profession, your nationality, a skill that you’ve recently mastered, anything!