Elizabeth Chayne's Reading Corner

No Time To Read

By Elizabeth Chayne

When was the last occasion you actually had enough leisure time to sit down and read a novel from beginning to end? If the answer is never, don’t panic. There’s nothing strange about not having enough reading time. Even though it’s an enjoyable activity, things just seem to get in the way when you’re reading: your cell phone rings just as you open the Da Vinci Code, a friend comes over unexpectedly on the night you’re expecting a quiet evening. Things never seem to stop happening when you’re ready for a good read. Check the three situations below and see if any of them sound like you:

You’re so busy you barely have time to breathe, let alone read. Reading time, when you have any, is sandwiched between dentists’ appointments and cell phone conversations when you have one hand free. Most times you can’t remember which chapter you got to before, so you end up starting from the start again. Result? You’ve only read the first five pages of every book you own.

Solution: Buy a bookmark. Well, no, it’s not entirely that simple. Sounds like you are one of those busy busy people who are more suited for the short story than the novel. Short stories move at a faster pace, and they give you everything you get in a novel—almost. There’s plot, characters, description…all on fast-forward. On average, a seven or eight thousand word story only takes about fifteen minutes to get through. Or, if you like, you can go for flash fiction—that’s fiction that’s shorter than two thousand words.

Every time you sit down with a book you think of something “better” you should be doing: cleaning the house, calling a friend, watching that rerun on television…the list is endless.

Solution: Make a reading appointment with yourself. It sounds like the only thing keeping you from your book is you. Write down “read” in your schedule book, and treat it like a regular appointment. When the time you’ve set aside rolls round, ignore all the things you have to do that aren’t emergencies and enjoy the you-time.

When you crack open any book, it’s as if the universe is against you—cell phones ring, children demand your attention for their artwork…

Solution: Minimize distractions. This is kind of like the last scenario, only instead of you keeping you away from your book, it’s other people disturbing you. Turn on the answering machine/voicemail, get an older child to baby-sit, or inform your family that this is your reading time and you don’t want to be disturbed unless it’s urgent. (Be warned: this boundary will be tested almost immediately!) And don’t feel guilty about “pushing people away”; after all, it’s only a temporary thing that happens once a month/fortnight. At first, there may be some troublemakers who’ll test you to see how far they can go, and there’ll probably be teasing, too. But once your friends see you’re serious about this reading thing, they’ll learn to respect your personal time.

More Information

Mystery Net

For the mystery lover, Mystery Net is the perfect place to go. Mysteries are short, mostly one page long. You also have the option to sign up for a mini mystery to arrive in your inbox every month.

Espresso Fiction

This is a site that claims to be just for people who don’t have time to read. For a fee, they promise to deliver a 15-minute read to your inbox every Tuesday. What could be more convenient?


A site that offers the classics in short 5-minute emails. Don’t you find that you spend a lot of time—perhaps a little too much tine checking your email? What easier way could there be to read a book?

In closing

Obviously, there are other factors that may keep you from the realms of imagination. Some of them may be personal, or unavoidable. Whatever it is, the important thing is to improvise and make as much reading time as possible, and to enjoy it fully when you can manage to get it. 


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