There was an article in the paper on Tuesday about a new venture in the French city of Grenoble. Apparently, they have installed a number of automatic dispensers which schpeel out free printed short stories for frustrated citizens waiting for their turn to encounter various forms of bureaucracy. After they have taken a number for whichever queue they have joined said citizens can then push another button to receive a short story on a scrolled piece of paper that is not dissimilar to a till receipt. It seems that this has gone down a storm, with satisfied readers quoted as saying that they are transported out of the waiting room and into a ‘happy moment’ with new and interesting characters. Apparently, the stories take between one and three minutes to read. All I can say is that bureaucratic queues must be a darned sight shorter in Grenoble than they are in England.
This did, however, raise yet again that perennial question of just how do you manage to find the time to read. Part of me may be quite envious of those short French queues, but I have to admit that having the freedom to read uninterrupted in waiting rooms not only makes waiting far less stressful, but also, paradoxically, means that sometimes our English queues move too fast. All readers know the joy of the half a dozen snatched moments, but they are never enough and nine times out of ten we get to the end of a day and wonder just how that book we are reading got sidelined yet again.
In theory this should be absolutely no problem at all for me. I am retired and I have no immediate family to make calls on my time, and indeed, when I first gave up work I did seem to be able to do all the reading and associated blogging that I wanted to. But, I had to give up work on health grounds and for the first six months I did very little other than read and force myself out for a daily walk. Now I’m back up and running (or at least ambling) again and out and about in the community it doesn’t seem so easy to carve out the hours that I want.
Lot of people talk as if they have found the answer but when you dig into what they have to suggest there is very often little substance behind their remarks. There was a discussion on the radio about ten days ago after a query as to how to choose what to read given the amount of fiction that is published these days. The ‘expert’ didn’t really answer that question (which was a shame, because that is another perennial problem) but diverted off into the issue of time, however, all she actually came out with was that you had to prioritise. Well, yes, I can see that. But how do I actually set about doing it?
I do all the things I’m supposed to. I never go anywhere without a book, or at least (given back problems) without an ereader. I watch very little television and apart from blogging spend almost no time at all on social media. I would be loath to give up blogging because half the pleasure of a good book is ‘talking’ about it with other people. I can’t do the ‘go to bed half an hour later and get up half an hour earlier’ thing because if I don’t get my seven hours I wouldn’t be any good for the reading time I do get.
So, what are your tricks for extending out the reading time? I know you must have some because many bloggers read and review far more than I do. What am I missing and how can I improve?