The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavorable. Favorable conditions never come.
– C.S. Lewis
I never find time to read! And when I do make the time to read a book (which is quite an investment!), I often forget much of what I’ve read a week or two later. What gives? Why do I even keep reading? Is it a waste of my time?
To understand how to become a better book reader, I picked up Tony Reinke’s new book Lit! Yeah, reading another book to learn how to read books better may seem a little circular, but let me tell you, Lit! is incredibly helpful. Here are a few specific take-aways that I got from reading it. If these are helpful you to you in the least, go out and buy the book yourself. Reinke makes these points (and others) much better in his book than I do in this short blog post.
I’m too busy to read!
It’s no surprise that in a culture of video games, Netflix instant, Hulu Plus, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, we don’t have much leisure time for reading. And imagine how much harder it will be to find time when we all are graduated, have full-time jobs and start raising families! The bad news is that you will likely have much less free time after these 4 years in college than you did when you were in college. The good news? We have more free time in this century than we have ever had before as a human race. Check this out:
The working man of a century ago spent some 70 hours per week on the job and lived about 40 years. Today he spends some 40 hours per week at work and can expect to live about 70 years. This adds something like 22 more years of leisure to his life, about 1,500 free hours each year, and a total of some 33,000 additional free hours that the man born today has to enjoy! (Robert Lee, Religion and Leisure in America)
Knowing that we in fact do have the leisure time to read, how do we go about carving it out in our schedules? Here are some helpful suggestions from Reinke:
1. Cultivate a hunger for good books by reading great books.
Get your hands on a gripping read that your friends recommend, or re-read something that you remember really enjoying. It takes work, but find the books that keep you up at night and motivate you to read more.
2. Prioritize your reading.
Before you begin reading a book, ask yourself why you are reading it and what you want to get out of it. If it turns out to be pretty mediocre halfway through, give it up. It’s okay to stop reading a book!
3. Give something up.
What do you pursue right now without a purpose? Do you find yourself aimlessly scrolling through the facebook newsfeed? Flipping from show to show on a Wednesday night? We all need time to veg, but discipline yourself and set limits to regain control of your time.
4. Use your in-between time.
Don’t expect to find hour-long chunks to read because you probably won’t have them! Bring a book with you everywhere and read in between classes, when waiting in line at the dining hall, before a doctor’s appointment… anywhere! Reading for 15-30 minutes a few times a day adds up.
Catch the 2nd installment of this series soon. We’ll talk about how to remember what you read!