The Ten Minute Read


Christmas break starts tonight.  Admittedly, it started a while ago for the kids and me, so when I say Christmas break, I mean my husband’s break.  Having him home with us will officially kick off a string of slow, fireplace days, and hot-chocolate-and-murder-mystery nights.  Of course, I’m looking forward to it because it’ll mean memory making and good conversations, all of us together during the best hours of the day.  But it’ll also mean that I can steal away sometimes (while, say, Dad plays dominoes with the kids) and do some serious reading. The long, focused kind. The best and rarest kind, in my humble opinion.

Then, inevitably, the New Year will roll around and schedules will tighten up around here again.  The kids will get back into the rhythm of co-op, extra-curriculars, and youth group.  The days will fill, as well they should, and my time for reading will be limited–again.  As happens at the start of every new year, I’ll be tempted to let library books pile up on my nightstand, unread and collecting dust.  And then, naturally, the longer they sit there, the guiltier I’ll feel because I’m a writer and writers read.  Just ask Stephen King.

I say I’ll be tempted to let those books pile up, but I won’t actually let them.  Instead, I know I’ll have to shift my mindset, once again, about how much time it really takes to move through a few pages of a good book every day.  I’ll have to get over my all-or-nothing tendencies and re-instate the Ten Minute Read (which is to say, reading on the fly).  And to facilitate my goal of grabbing ten minutes increments in which to read, whenever they present themselves, I’ll make sure to

  • Have a book in my purse at all times
  • Have a book (or three) on my nightstand
  • Use my ten minutes to actually read instead of checking social media
  • Rethink the time I spend standing in lines, holding the phone, or waiting in parking lots as excellent times in which to clear a few pages.

All of this doesn’t come naturally to me as I’m a girl who likes to block out large swaths of time to do things that are important to me, and then focus only on those things.  But I’ve realized that if I wait to read only when those large swaths appear, I’ll read twice a year, maybe.  So I’ve learned to embrace the reality that, right now, time comes to me in fragments, in serendipitous slivers.  I can make the most of these pockets, reading a page at a time, or fritter them away.  Sometimes I choose to fritter because it’s just easier.  Increasingly, though, I’m using my minutes to read.  And the amazing thing is that those minutes are starting to add up, and I find that I’m reading a lot after all.

What about you?  Are you all-or-nothing, or do you grab flyby moments to do things you love?