Book it

Reading is one of those things that’s very important to me. It’s such a big part of who I am that I turned it into a career as a copy editor. However, reading in a high-pressure, deadline-oriented environment on a day-to-day basis means that I’m often not super-eager to get right back to it in my free time at home. Oh, but the problem is that I LOVE books. I lean toward nonfiction generally…things like personal memoirs (both celebrity and non-celebrity), true-life stories of overcoming adversity, and humor-based books, though I do throw in some fiction selections regularly to round things out a little.

There have been many times in my adult life where I’ve had to completely abandon reading books for pleasure because I was just too overloaded with reading at work. I’d go months at a time without immersing myself in a book for fun, then eventually I’d resolve to make the time for it and would fold it into my daily routine once again.

Last winter, I came up with a decent solution: I figured I’d give audio books a try. I don’t have a long commute each day — 20 minutes each way — but that seemed like enough time to at least see if it might work for me. To be honest, I was dubious. I didn’t think I’d like audio books, despite The Husband and several friends giving them generally positive reviews. Historically, my alone time in the car is my designated thinking time, and I figured my mind would wander too much to focus on someone reading me a book.

And, at first, it WAS a challenge for me. My mind would wander and I’d need to rewind the book, fearing I’d missed something crucial that would have me confused about the plot later if I didn’t catch it. But slowly, I retrained my brain to focus on the audio book, and soon I found myself dreading arriving at my destination because that meant turning off the book and leaving the action just hanging there.

I’ve been listening to audio books for probably a year now, and I genuinely love that it’s helped me recapture some of my “reading” time. (Side note: There needs to be a new verb that means “listening to an audio book.” That’s often cumbersome to say, and you can’t really say you READ it, because you listened. I propose a combination of reading and listening: risten. “I ristened to the audio book in the car today.” Better suggestions are welcome, of course.)

An unexpected offshoot of this audio book adventure has been that it jump-started my interest in actual book-reading time, and I’ve been devoting about 20 to 30 minutes before bed each night to reading a book I can hold in my hand. (Full disclosure: Most of the time it’s physical books, always from the library. Sometimes it’ll be a Kindle book, also from the library. But most of the time it’s a real book. My preference for real books vs. Kindle books is definitely fodder for a future post.)

Just guessing, I’d say I’ve read maybe 50 books this year (I don’t keep track, nor do I really have much desire to keep track), which isn’t bad considering that number was much, much lower in recent years. I’m sure at some point, my work reading will cause me to need a break from pleasure reading, but I’m confident I’ll always come back to it in one form or another.

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