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How to find more time for reading

From the 1894 'A Book of Nonsense' by Edward Lear
from the 1894 'A Book of Nonsense' by Edward Lear

Suey at It’s All About Books wrote an thought-provoking post about a friend who said “I don’t have the luxury to read”, then Rebecca followed that up with an interesting post about making reading a priority. 

I thought I’d add to them by listing all the ways I manage to fit lots of reading into my every day life.


  • Don’t watch television.
  • Don’t go to the gym – build exercise into your normal life by cycling to work, taking the children swimming, going for a walk with the family. You can spend your gym membership on a few books instead!
  • Read more blogs – controversial I know, but I’ve found the more blogs I read, the more books I discover that I really want to read. This means I am more likely to make more time for reading.
  • Don’t iron your clothes – this is a bit extreme, but I hate ironing, so try to buy clothes which don’t need it in the first place. Then, if I know I’m not going out all day I’m not going to waste time ironing my clothes!
  • Listen to an audio book while you’re driving, cooking, cleaning etc.
  • Don’t watch many films.
  • Try to ensure all your chores are done early, so you have lots of free time during the evening to read.
  • Take a book with you where ever you go. You never know when you are going to have to wait around for a bit.
  • Make double quantities when you are cooking, then freeze half – that way you only need to cook every other day.
  • Subscribe to Daily Lit – that way you can read books via email. If you’re at work they will never know what is in that email!

What do you do to be able to spend more time reading?

39 replies on “How to find more time for reading”

I have to admit to getting a bit “snippy” with people who make comments (surprised, negative or judgemental) about how much I read. My response is always the same as your #1 listed here – I watch VERY little television. I go to bed as early as I can and read until I fall asleep! I also have quite fussy eaters so I have come to accept that my girls like very bland, unimaginative dinners – the upside of this is that they don’t take very long to prepare (I usually make something else for my partner and I which is more tasty but still not overly long to prepare) – thus more time for reading! One can always find at least some time for a hobby (even with young children or a very busy job) and I suppose I only have one hobby as well – READING!

I think people who don’t read seem to assume that we must have loads of free time, and only really lazy people actually read. This is because they would only read once they have done all sorts of other things. I admit to having more free time than most, as I work only a few hours at home, so can get all the household tasks done during the day, involving my two little boys, but even when I had a full time job I stil managed a good two hours of reading a day.

“Don’t iron your clothes” – this highly amused me! I don’t iron much on principle too.

It annoys me when my friends say they don’t have time to read. You make time; it’s as simple as that. I still lament that I don’t have enough time but I need to spend less time online, for a start. One of my friends (who is a reader) says she envies all of my free time, but it’s not “free”, it’s time used constructively to read instead of watching crap TV, as she does. Reading is not a luxury but a way of life and you use your time wisely to do it.

I don’t watch much TV but I do watch programmes on DVD or films as this is my non-engaging relaxation time.

I always have a book with me and do a lot of reading as I travel and always in waiting rooms/queues as otherwise it is just wasted time. I would happily spend every moment of the day that I literally can reading. I know that when I am working again I will have less time to read but it means that I will return to fitting reading into every possible moment when I am not working. I am also trying to combine exercise and audio-books.

Combining audio books with exercise is a great idea too!

I do watch some TV and about 2 films a month, but as you say it isn’t very much. I also try to combine watching TV with doing other things – like that ironing I hate!

I need to acquire some more audio books for my ipod so I can listen to them whilst doing housework. Perhaps cleaning the bathroom will appeal more if I have something enjoyable to listen to whilst doing it!

It really does help the jobs to feel as though they are passing more quickly. My only problem is that I’m running out of ones I want to borrow from the library – I’m going to have to part with some cash soon.

I listen to audiobooks while I fold laundry or iron or cook or do essentially any chores. If I exercised at a gym, I’d listen to books there too.

What a fun list! Thanks for sharing your ideas.

This is a great post, and I’m so glad you’re addressing the issue of how to fit in time to read. Whenever someone tells me they would love to read more but “just don’t have time,” my first question is always “Well, how much TV do you watch?”

My father’s new year’s resolution a few years ago was to read more. He used to just turn the TV on when he got home from work and watch until dinner time, so he started skipping the filler shows and reading instead. And it grew into a bigger habit.

My secret to finding reading time? Marry someone who LOVES to watch sports.

My husband doesn’t watch much sport, but he does like watching a lot of TV that I have no interest in. If I wanted to watch TV too I think there’d be remote wars! My reading helps our marriage too!

Some of us can’t give up films, but I do find it helpful to set aside certain times in the day for reading. Lots of people read right before bed. I also have other scheduled times, including lots of kid chauffeuring with my book in the car for the waiting times.
“I don’t have time to read” is my preferred remark from someone just finding out I teach English. (The response I like less is “oh, I’ll have to watch my grammar around you.”) And my standard answer is “you make time for what you love.”

It’s better than the standard question I get asked when I tell people I sell books for a living ‘Do you make much money doing that?’ I don’t know any other profession where people want to know how much you get paid!

I don’t watch much TV as I prefer to read instead. As for giving up the gym, no way. I read whilst doing the cardio and always have a book in the car just for that. My Flip Klip keeps the book open for me,, although it doesn’t work well for mass-market paperbacks. Well used hardbacks from the library – perfect. I have to admit that Goodreads and Historical Fiction Online take up a fair bit of reading time.

If you manage to read in the gym then there is no need to give up! I don’t think I could read while exercising though – I think I’d have to stick to the audio books.

I love that list! And I tend to agree that people who say that they don’t have time to read are usually not making time for it (I think my mom is the only person I know who could say that and I’d believe her, and still she makes time to read, even when it’s only a few pages per day). I’ve given up a lot of TV and lurking around the web to make more time for reading! I agree with the “read more blogs”, too. Since I started book-blogging, I’ve discovered more books, but it also has that contradictory effect of : “I shouldn’t be on the internet, I should be reading!” And so, book blogging has reduced my internet time, too! 🙂

I’m afraid book blogging has only increased my Internet time. It is my working time which has been reduced to replace it. I’m lucky that I don’t need to make much money – I’ve got enough books already!

What a great post!

I copy audio books onto my IPOD while watching the news or flipping through magazines. Then when I am cleaning, walking, or lying in bed at night I always have an audio book accessable.

I also try and get the print version when I have a long audio book so that I can complete it faster.

I have never combined audio + print before. That is quite a good idea, but I struggle to find enough audio books, so am not sure I want to speed up the audio book bit.

Don’t iron your clothes…love that! I’m lucky enough that my husband does the ironing as my standards are too lax for him.

I don’t watch much TV either, preferring to read. But, between my husband and my daughter, TV is on pretty much all the time and I find it very difficult to concentrate with it screaming at me. Does anyone else have that problem? My dream house has a special room for me to read in with a cosy chair, a huge window and a soundproof door!

Your husband sounds amazing! Mine irons his own clothes as I hate ironing so much, but I couldn’t get him to do mine too.

I’m lucky enough to be able to go into a room without the TV on and I can’t really hear it in there. It has a comfy chair, but not the huge window – 2/3 is quite good!

I love it! I agree with many things on here, but might add that if you do like ironed clothes and a different meal every night, plug in the audio book. I listen to audio when I’m cooking, cleaning, mowing, ironing, driving, working out, you name it. It is the ultimate multi-task! I do like to watch movies, but this is usually something we do with the kids or by ourselves at night. I think that if you love reading, you will always find time!

My children are still too young to watch films at the moment. I look forward to being able to go to the cinema with them when they’re older.

Yes – sometimes I do have to tear myself away from the computer. I could stay here all day!

I read while I’m on the treadmill. And I listen to audiobooks on the drive to work. I also watch very little tv…although it is on in the background, since my boyfriend always has it on.

I can’t concentrate on reading when TV is on in the background – it is great that you are able to. Luckily I can shut myself away in another room when it is on.

I make time for my reading. I’m known to ignore my homework and study time to read. Reading is what I love to do. I don’t iron, I only watch a program or two on tv, I’ve cut out movies. I take books with me everywhere and make sure my kids do the same. If they’re reading their own books, I don’t have to worry about entertaining them. Going to the library is a priority. So is buying books. I wear jeans and t-shirts most days so I can have books. Though I love fashion and new clothes, most days I rather have a new book.

I’m lucky? in that I find it very hard to find clothes to fit me. I’m so tall that I can only really buy clothes in one shop. This means that clothes shopping is never exciting for me, so is not something I do very often.

hmmm…that’s a nice list, but it doesn’t work much for me. I reach home by 7 or 8 in the evening from work. I try to fit half an hour of reading time in the morning.

After I reach home, I usually go swimming, cutting down swimming is really not an option. By the time I come back and have dinner and all it’s 9.30 or so. Then I have to check emails, surf a little for an hour. And then I read. So that basically gives me only half an hour in the evening to read. Sometimes I’m so tired I fall asleep in 15 minutes.

The only time I get is on weekends. And then there are so many things to fit in. Meeting friends, spending time with family ,movies, outings, dinners. I’m envious of people who know how to manage their time so well. And I’m not even married 🙂

I am impressed by how much you manage to read with such a busy life. It just goes to show how much you can squeeze in if you want to make the time to read.

I don’t read much at weekends, as I am normally out somewhere. Most of my reading is done during the week.

Great ideas! I always feel guilty about the amount of time I put towards reading but in the end it is what I enjoy and makes me happy. Shouldn’t that be what life is about?

I get to work 30 minutes to beat some traffic but to have some alone time to read. Sometimes this is the only part of my day when I can fit reading in. I also try to read at lunch. For the gym, if I can squeeze in some time on the bike, I’ll bring my book. Not giving up that gym membership, though. I don’t watch TV, but I spend my evenings with my husband or friends. I have a tendancy to shut myself away and just read all the time, but there are other important things as well. I guess it’s all about balance.

But, having said all that–it REALLY irritates me when people say, “I’d really love to read but just don’t have the time.” Grrr!

I love evenings out with friends, but unfortunately my husband often travels for work leaving me looking after the boys, so I often find myself alone all night once they are in bed and manage to get alot of reading in!

Reading on public transportation! That’s definitely my biggest one. I’ve seen people read while driving and stuck in traffic. I don’t think I’m OK with that!

I don’ get much reading done when trying to look after my two little boys on public transport, but I can see how other people do. I don’t think I’d ever read when I’m stuck in traffic either!

Great post! (Sorry I’m discovering it kinda late, but I WAS gone over the weekend and am trying to catch up!)

Besides reading, I manage to watch TV, and movies, and go to the gym, usually. And I don’t do audio books. But I DO try to get chores done early. I love the idea of freezing dinners, but I’ve never done it. And I do read way too many blogs! So, I have no idea how I find time. It’s an interesting thing, it is.

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