You’re already scoffing at the title. I can hear you through the interwebs: “I’m a mood reader.” “I don’t want to be forced to read.” “It’s not about how much you read because this isn’t a race.” But I also hear this: “I’m in a slump.” “I haven’t finished a book in ages because I just keep starting new ones.” “I thought I read more, but everyone seems to read faster than me.”
Granted, there are a few things going on here. Some people read garbage books, and that stuff’s easy to vacuum into your brain’s dust bin. Some people read compulsive, predictable young adult novels that make them happy. Some people read giant brick-sized novels that take them forever to finish, but they are reading constantly. Others drive children around to practices and rehearsals and try to spend meaningful time with their spouses.
Let me backtrack: I typically work from 2:00PM to 7:00PM. It’s easy for me to read all morning because my husband’s at work and we don’t have children. But today I worked from 7:00AM to 3:30PM, and after a dinner out at a mediocre chain restaurant, I sat down and watched an episode of Grace and Frankie on Netflix.
Then I watched one more. Then, to prove I wasn’t binge watching, I put on Trigger Warning with Killer Mike on Netflix. I paused it to make some popcorn so I could eat popcorn while I watched Jeopardy! with my husband on regular TV, which does not have a pause button. After Jeopardy! I switched back to Netflix to unpause Killer Mike.
During the show, I found a piece of popcorn on one of my books, accused the popcorn of trying read, laughed so hard I created a Facebook post about what happened, and then I watched one more episode of Grace and Frankie because it’s so damn funny.
Before I knew it, it was almost 9:00PM and I had read only two pages all day (in a Perkins, no less). I know that I am a person who thrives on seeing the product of success. I’ve struggled with music and writing because there’s no “DONE” to it (that didn’t stop me from going to school for it). A song floats away in the air, and the performance could have been better (and can be better if you keep rehearsing after the show). A story may be published, but you’ll still want to edit it, seeing how amateur you were when you wrote the thing. But having a mini reading goal that I meet each day makes me feel like I really DID something that day.
How much do I read per day? Depends! Last week I was doing 75 pages per day on a fantasy novel for #ReadingValdemar. But this week I’m taking on Skagboys by Irvine Welsh, which is neither a light novel nor written in standard English. I was telling Jackie @ Death by Tsundoku about the language. It’s not just that it’s in dialect, but there’s the slang, like “puff” and “spraffin'” and “coupon” (that’s life and talking too much and face) that you have to memorize like you’re going to do a vocab test. So, I chose 50 pages. It’s ambitious, but I’m pushing myself a bit.
What did I really do? I gave myself homework. There was a time about two years ago when I realized that my perception of how long I read did not match how long I really read. What felt like forever was really about 10-15 minutes. And so I created due dates, like this:
I can feel your face scrunching, you lemon. That’s okay. To get the laundry done, and spend time together I have my husband fold clothes while I read aloud to him. Just a tiny bit (even two pages) each night brings us closer together. But I would love to hear what you did with your time yesterday from when you woke up until bed. Were there times you could have read but watched TV or used your phone instead? How many pages can you read with a spare 5 minutes in the grocery line? Those 30 minutes dinner is baking? Those 10 minutes between the children going to sleep and you passing out? Would you feel better knowing you had met some — any — kind of reading goal?