In Which I Discover, To My Horror, That I Don’t Read Books

In January I decided that I wanted to read a book a week. It shouldn’t be a difficult thing.  After all, I live to read.  I can knock a book out fairly quickly. And what author won’t improve their craft by reading, says I? So 52 books in a year it was.

Well, December is here and my book count is at 36.  36!  I’m pretty unimpressed with my progress, quite honestly. I expected more out of myself.

But at the same time, I was baffled! I feel like I’m reading all of the time.  Every day I say, “Shh, sweetheart, Mommy’s reading” at least twice.  So where’s the disconnect?  What is going on?

I finally figured it out.  I’m reading slush, and while I don’t get to it every day (and sometimes I’m embarrassingly behind) I spend quite a bit of time on it.  I read the newspaper every day, skipping nothing but the sports and the obituaries.  I read blogs, although I’m horribly behind on that as well.  I read an insane amount of medical information: about my son’s diagnosis, ways to lessen his pain, lessen his anxiety, increase his sleep, increase his learning.  I’m constantly reading enormous booklets that his speech therapist sends home.  I’m reading medical information regarding my daughter’s seizures. I’m reading to make sure that her medicines don’t interact, that I’m not doing something to induce seizures, that we’re avoiding her triggers.  I’m researching things online for my stories.  I’m looking stuff up for my freelance gig.  I read the lesson that I prepare each Sunday for my class.  I’m reading chapters out of my writing groups’ novels every week, and I’m usually beta reading for at least one or two other people beside that.

I read several children’s stories every day to the kidlets, but I don’t count them toward my books read.  I read every single thing that is posted on the Shock Totem forum, but of course that doesn’t count, either.  I’m reading email.  I’m reading story outlines.  I’m reading queries and synopses and other things that come my way, because we all know how helpful it is to have another set of eyes going over our work.

So I’m constantly reading, but I’m not reading published manuscripts.  I still haven’t read The Hunger Games.  I still haven’t read The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, which I have been dying to open ever since I heard of it.  I want to read more, but I’m not sure what else I can drop in order to fit it in.  I’d try books on tape while driving to therapy with the kidlets (hey, that would be an extra four hours a week!) but we have a certain CD that we listen to and if I switch it up, my son will fall apart. Any ideas?  Suggestions?  What are you reading, and how do you find the time to do it?

17 Comments on “In Which I Discover, To My Horror, That I Don’t Read Books”

  1. I read a lot. But I don’t have kids, and while my dogs have medical conditions, I did all of that frantic “gotta find out everything in the *world* about this so I can take good care of them” reading a couple years ago (ie, on a smaller scale I understand all the medical reading you’re doing – and you have to).

    Most of my reading is done during my lunch hour, and sometimes while I’m eating dinner too. The bigger chunks, wherein I can finish off the rest of a good sized novel happens late at night, after my writing, after everything else is done, between say, 1am and 3am. So I read at the cost of sleep – which I really shouldn’t most of the time (doesn’t help the next day at work, for sure).

    You may not be reading as many published works as you’d like, but looking at your list of things you do read…you still read a very impressive amount of material! I wouldn’t worry so much about it…36 books is nothing to sneeze at (and far more than the average person would get to). 🙂

  2. Ha. Go read my latest blog post. I have no advice to help you. lol 😀 I WISH I could read so much more.

    You really do need to read The Hunger Games. And now I have a book to add to my list! The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake!

  3. 36 books in a year is quite good, I think, and with 4 small kids of my own, I’m not quite sure how you manage all that you do. I have quite a list of my own that I would like to tackle, and just can’t seem to squeeze any extra time out of my day. I have resigned myself to the fact that if I try to push more, I will lose quality out of something else, and quantity isn’t always a better trade-off. Good luck:)

  4. Oy. I might’ve read 20 this year, not counting novels I’ve betaed. I’ve been “currently reading” the same book on Goodreads for about 6 months now. >.<

    I do read an insane number of blogs and tweets. Do those count? *sigh*

  5. Hello Lovely,

    Goodness. Like Regan, I have no advice to give in this area. My tbr pile is massive. MASSIVE.

    Thankfully, the kids have started to enjoy listening to older, middle grade books. We’ve started the Narnia Series and the first Harry Potter. I feel encouraged to at least read these things. So you aren’t alone here, dearest.



  6. If allowed to include novellas and graphic novels, I’ve read over a hundred books this year. If not, the number is closer to fifty. In any case, I try to read up to a hundred pages every night. I mean, it’s not like there’s anything good on TV anymore. 🙂

  7. I’m scared to read slush…I firmly believe that if you read better writing, your writing will improve. I’m scared that the inverse is true, also.

    But I totally need to read more. I keep a book in almost every room in the house so I can grab one and spend 10 minutes here or there reading, and some Saturday mornings I’ll try to knock out a half a novel or so. I think I’m finishing maybe 2 a month, which sucks.

  8. Jamie, that’s a good way to look at it. Just be happy with the 36. I tend to flick the whip at myself a good bit more than I should, perhaps. Thanks!

    Regan: Oh, are we on the same wavelength? Again?? 😀 I’m off to read your post!

    Mandy: Quality over quantity is important. Good call. 🙂

    Simon, you’re incredibly hooked into the social media world. You’ve got my butt kicked on that one, no joke!

    Harley, I love you madly. That is all.

    Barry: I’m dying to read that series. Along with about 20,000 other books. I even request them from the library and don’t have time to pick them up. Oh, the shame!

    Gef, you seem like a dear, but I’m seriously going to kick you the next time you walk by. 😉

    Jeremy: A book in every room sounds like a good idea! It also appeals to the ADD in all of us. 😉

    Thanks so much for your comments, everybody! It’s cool to see how you get your reading in.

  9. Whatever advice you get, I need it too; I decided to do the fifty-book challenge in 2011 after realizing that the vast majority of my reading is in comics format. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! But I want to stack up the novels again, too.

  10. Well, I read whenever I can. I tend to use those little time slots in a day when you’re doing something that requires no brain activity. Like on my way to work, in the bath, before bed, when I wake up, lunch hour, in-between writing … and then when I am cooking, cleaning, walking I listen to audio books. Having an eReader is handy, and reading has been an integral part of my life for as long as I can remember. To the point where people identify me by the fact if I have a free minute I am sitting in a corner reading.

    I think I may have more time in general since I don’t blog and tweet as much as some o_o. I read about 2-4 books a week (depending on what’s on), but I am childless. I work a nine to five, have to go out with the other half, and friends, but having kids is like working a 24/7 to 24/7.

    36 books in a year is more than some people read in their lifetime! Sounds pretty awesome to me.

  11. I know I’m probably out of my element, with no kids, an e-reader, and a long-suffering wife who is slowly developing a tolerance for having my nose in a book all the time.

    Technically, I can’t have finished 36 books’ worth of reading this year. In fact, I just checked my goodreads account–I’ve finished 3. Maybe I’ll get to 4 if I finish a novel I’m reading this week. But I’ve lost count of how many short stories I’ve read, which is another plus of reading them.

    I’ve been itching to read Lemon Cake myself, because I worship Aimee Bender–and both her collections of short stories (which tend to be really short).

    Regardless of what you read, though, the only piece of reading advice I’d ever be comfortable giving anyone is that “Gee, I really should read this story/novel” will never be as compelling a reason as “I just HAVE to read this.” The stories I read get read because of that. My shelf is jammed with Thomas Pynchon, David Foster Wallace, Andre Dubus, Joyce Carol Oates, and other authors whose collections I “should” read, but still haven’t finished. Oh I will… eventually. But if you’ll excuse me, there’s a Howard Waldrop story I have to re-read right now for story research :).

  12. I tried this challenge also Mercedes, and didn’t quite hit the 52 book range….but just the idea of always having a book open to read whenever I had spare time I found satisfying in itself. Did you take your current book into the bathroom with you? You know, for that sitting down time? I did. My kids were like, Why are you taking a book with you? I’d end up in there much longer than necessary…what can I say. LOL. And in the bath is my favorite time…though it is risky to the book if you are not careful.

    Don’t be down about 36 books! I commend your achievement, along with all the outside reading and writing you do, along with your little munchkins to keep you occupied! You should be proud!

    Love, the Wit
    (I do miss your dark look for your blog. It sort of seemed more you, but this is nice too.)

  13. Like you, much of my reading time is taken up by unpublished MSes–which is awesome, but not quite what I meant when I said “I want to read more this year”. Like you.

    This might be silly, but the e-reader has helped immensely in the–barely a week I’ve had it. Even just free stuff from Project Gutenberg. I’m sitting somewhere waiting around and pull the thing out, and go to town straight away.

    1. Ditto on the e-reader thing. I’ve had mine just over a week now, and I’ve easily read a collection’s worth of published stories and 1/2 a novel. I’ve only recently made my first purchases–back issues of ‘zines I’ve meant to subscribe to forever but now can, and without the resultant piles of dead trees!

  14. I haven’t been reading as much as I’d like since I started writing. I generally try to read before bed and can finish a couple books a month like that.

    But as for your list: goodness gracious. That’s a lot of reading!

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