Reading Journal (22 July): Reading as a Priority

Suey at It’s All About Books mentioned a friend who said “I don’t have the luxury to read” and this got me thinking. People are always saying to me, “I don’t have time to read.” I have to argue they don’t choose to read.

Reading is a luxury in some ways. But saying “I don’t have the luxury” is really saying “I have better things to do,” and that means “I’d rather do something else.” It’s a choice. And I want to tell all those people “Please don’t blame me for choosing differently from you! I’d rather read.”

I personally don’t think reading is a necessity. I can physically exist without reading, although my mind might be very bored sometimes. But I love the mental energy that goes toward reading! Instead of being a luxury or a necessity, I think reading is a priority. People who say “I don’t have that luxury” really just don’t want it enough, I think.

Everyone has time to read if they wanted to. I read while eating breakfast. I read while combing and drying my hair. I read instead of watching television (we don’t have it). I read by listening to an audiobook while driving and cooking dinner and sweeping the floor. I read for a few minutes in the late hours of the night before the lights are turned off. I read because I want to.

Where or when do you choose to read?

I don’t read at all those times every day. I, too, enjoy emptying my mind sometimes as I go through routines. I try to have space for personal meditation every day. But lots of times I choose to read because I love it.

Everyone and anyone could read every single day if they really wanted to. Most people just don’t care that much. They don’t want to read whenever they get the chance; they choose something else.

And that’s okay if you do. I just ask that you don’t blame it on your lack of “time” or your inability to indulge in “luxury.” It’s your choice! You have been choosing different luxuries.

It’s true I read a lot. I won’t argue or try to convince you otherwise. It astounds me too! But I want to make it clear that I read a lot because I choose too. I know I won’t always read as much as I read now, as my son is still at an age where I get breaks and he lets me indulge. But I know I will always read, at every stage of motherhood and at every stage of his life and of my life. I choose to do so.

Finished Reading

In addition to the books finished below, I also watched Becoming Jane this week, which counts for the Everything Austen Challenge. I liked it, knowing full well the entire premise was invented. I’m sure Jane Austen would roll in her grave knowing the speculation necessary to create it: there was never proof she had a relationship with Tom Lefroy, let alone almost marry him! Ah well, it was a fun story to watch as long as I remembered that it was entirely a fiction.

I enjoyed the three books I finished this week. I’ve decided I need to keep modern fiction in my regular reading schedule, because it is so fun to indulge in. See my notes by each book.

Finished or Abandoned Since Last Wednesday

  • Friday’s Child by Georgette Heyer (425 pages; fiction). ABANDONED. I decided not to read this.
  • The Complete English Poems of John Donne (510 pages; poetry). ABANDONED. I’ve decided to find a different volume of Donne’s poetry. This one is too much.
  • The John Cheever Audio Collection (audiobook, on 6 discs, about 6 ½ hours; fiction/short stories).  FINISHED!
  • The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King (350 pages; fiction). FINISHED!
  • Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (425 pages; YA fiction/science fiction). FINISHED! My first foray into YA fiction in about a decade. Wow, now I want to read the next in the series. ASAP. This was also new library loot this week.
  • Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne (160 pages; children’s fiction) FINISHED! I still love this book! My son liked it too, I think. But then, he likes the movie and associates the book with the movie, so which one does he like best? As I was reading the last chapter, he said “bye-bye” to Pooh. It was cute.

Currently Reading

I’ve included my thoughts about these current reads below.

My Books

  • The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins ( audiobook, on 5 of 38 segments, 25.5 hours total; fiction) My current audiobook; so far, the Librivox readers did an excellent job with this one! As in, it seems professionally done.
  • The Stories of John Cheever (12 of 61 stories, 820 pages; fiction/short stories). I liked listening to Cheever’s short stories so I think I’ll keep reading a few every week. Also, part of my Pulitzer Challenge.
  • Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel (240 pages; fiction). Newly arrived from Bookmooch; for The Spice of Life Challenge. Not yet begun.

Old Library Loot

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

  • Twenty Years at Hull-House by Jane Addams (112 read of 290 pages; nonfiction). I’ve never read a book like this before, and I love the new perspective.
  • The Doors by Margaret Atwood (120 pages, plus audio disc; poetry). For the Martel-Harper Challenge. Not yet begun.
  • The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart (345 pages; YA fiction). My “romance” selection for my library summer reading program. Not yet begun.
  • The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (375 pages; fiction). One “fantasy” selection for my library summer reading program. Even though I already read Uglies, I may still read this, we’ll see. Not yet begun.
  • TAGALOG: A Complete Course for Beginners by Living Language (on 1 of 15 lessons, audio and booklet; nonfiction/languages). I’ve listened to the first lesson a few times. This is going to be hard. My husband is fluent, but even with that, how will I ever learn a language that no one else around me speaks? I’m not sure this is going to work very well.

New Library Loot

I got a few new books this week.

  • The Arabian Nights II, translated by Husain Haddawy (270 pages; fiction). I finished the other volume and I feel like I missed something; this volume has the traditional stories I missed. Not yet begun.
  • The Autobiography of an Idea by Louis H. Sullivan (320 pages; nonfiction). This book is a bit denser than I anticipated. I’ve flipped through it, but not yet begun.
  • The Chicago School of Architecture: A History of Commercial and Public Building in the Chicago Area, 1875-1925 by Carl W. Condit (220 pages; nonfiction). This may be more approachable than Sullivan’s autobiography, plus it has pictures. I’ve flipped through it, but not yet begun.
  • Abraham Lincoln: A Man of Faith and Courage by Joe Wheeler (280 pages; nonfiction/biography).  I got this book because a friend at my IRL book club loved the interesting perspective on Lincoln that Wheeler provides. From the introduction and first few pages, it seems to be a collection of stories from Lincoln’s life rather than a biography, and it focuses on Lincoln’s religious beliefs throughout his life. It’s an Interlibrary Loan book, so I have to read it fast!

Fabulous Finds

There are lots of new things going on this week, the main one being Book Blogger’s Appreciation Week, which at this point is like voting for fifty different homecoming kings/queens: there are lots of subcategories for awards, so go and vote for your favorites here. BBAW, which is in September, will also have tons of prizes. Now that I’m reading some modern fiction, I may actually find some award that interests me! I’m eager to be involved.




  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. Heather at Age 30+ calls this one of her favorites. It’s on my children’s literature project list but I have been putting it off. Why?
  • If Not, Winter by Sappho (trans. Anne Carlson). Mostly white space, Jason at 5-Squared says it’s powerful to see just how little of this poet’s poems have survived.
  • Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters. Jenny at Shelf Love reviewed this just after I’d added it to my list.
  • 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff. Nymeth at things mean a lot loved this little volume. I’ve been meaning to read it!

Also, see the Chicago books I want to read.

Have you read any of these books? What are you reading this week?

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

  1. Ah, Rebecca, yes, yes yes! I have never understood the response “I don’t have time to read” or better yet “I WISH I had time to read”. Ok, so then do it. I don’t mean to imply that everyone should read if they want to, they can. I work. I play. I have a son who comes WITH me to work and play. I have a husband. I have friends. I even have hobbies unrelated to reading and yet, I read two or three books a week, not because I’m a speed reader but because it is an intense passion and there must be time for it in my life.

    I will be the first to admit that I am not a big TV or movie fan and I think that is where I gain the most time. Many of my coworkers and friends go home for the night and watch various shows where I have never been able to do that and so I have that time not otherwise sued, to read.

    I know I’m preaching to the choir, here but I also find myself rolling my eyes when people say they don’t have time to read. Thank you for this post.

  2. I couldn’t agree more. Most of the people I know who “don’t have time to read” spend an awful lot of time watching television . . . But unlike you, I’m not at all sure I could live without reading. It really is my passion in life and I’d rather do that that just about anything else I can think of. But that’s just me, and I have issues. 🙂


  3. I read Suey’s post and commented with almost exactly the same words you used above. It really bugs me when people say they don’t have TIME to read – b/c it isn’t true. It is that reading is not a priority and therefore they don’t MAKE time for it. They fill their time with other things. And then they view me as being lazy, or having lots of spare time, or indulging myself, when the opposite is true. Like you, I read and listen to audio books when other people would be watching TV or listening to music or doing something else.

    Enough of my rant … great post as usual, and I’ll stop writing now. 🙂

  4. I’ve had those conversations so many times. And I notice that people even get defensive sometimes. They say things like “oh, I wish I had an easy life like you do” or “You must have so much time in my hands”; things that imply that if you do read, you’re idle, you don’t have serious adult responsibilities like everyone else, you’re useless. Maybe they assume I will judge them for not reading, and so they decide to judge me first? The thing is, I don’t. I completely agree that making time for reading is a choice, and I know that other people would rather do other things. That’s completely fine – I don’t think that the fact that reading is a priority for me makes me smarter or better than anyone else. But it also doesn’t make me a useless slob.

    As you can probably tell by the fact that I went on and one, some of these conversations have upset me 😛

  5. I agree – if you want to do something you should make the time to do it. Everyone can fit in some reading if they want to.

    Thanks for the link to my ad post – I’ve removed my horrible adsense ad now – it didn’t last very long!

  6. I commented on Suey’s blog too, and thought you had pretty much the right idea: priorities. My mom still marvels that I can read so many books, but I marvel she can watch 10 hours of TV during the week, you know? I almost never have the TV on, and more often than not, if I do, I have a book to read during commercials. 🙂

    So many good books on your list! I’m having trouble focusing. I see Woman in White and Like Water for Chocolate, too. I’ve not read that latter, but really want to. I hope it’s good.

    Okay, I’ll sign off now. Sorry, I got overexcited seeing that list of books. 😀

    So I’m curious, why did you abandon the Georgette Heyer book? I’ve not read anything by her, so I’m really curious about your reasons.

    Also, Uglies! I’m so glad you liked it! Be warned about Pretties – there’s a lot of valley-girl like speech, which turns some people off, but it’s actually a huge thematic thing with regards to language use, so it didn’t bother me. I actually liked Pretties more than Uglies, but I know I’m in the extreme minority.

    I didn’t know the Disreputable History was a romance book! It’s on my list to read but I haven’t gotten there yet. Also, I hope you still get to read The Eyre Affair. It’s great.

  7. I’m not sure how that happened, but that 2nd and 3rd paragraph were actually at the end of my comment…they somehow slipped up in line! Sorry about that.

  8. Pam, I’m an eye-roller too. And I know I’m preaching to the choir. 🙂 Always glad to hear agreement, though.

    Lezlie, I know I can survive without reading so much because before I started book blogging, I did! I still read, just not nearly so much. Like, it took me three weeks to finish a book and I usually was only reading one or two books at a time. Sigh. I really can’t remember those days. I’d always sit and read the cereal box over and over during breakfast. How much I missed out on! I look at my reading now and I think “If only I’d been reading like this my whole life, I”d have read a lot more by now!”

  9. Heather J., I know you’re with me on audiobooks because I know you listen to a lot of them too! I am so grateful for the ease of audiobooks. It’s great.

    Nymeth, “a useless slob”: that’s the thing I’m afraid people are thinking when they make comments about reading. Come on, already!

    You’re free to go on and on. As someone said, I’m preaching to the choir here!

    Jackie, it seemed most people didn’t care too much about the adsense. I just don’t personally like it.

    I’m so glad so many people fit in reading. I love the book blogging community!

  10. Amanda, yeah, I think about TV every time someone comments on my reading. It’s all about choices. I don’t even have television. (Technically, I have a TV screen, but it’s just not connected to any stations, so I could have it if I wanted to but I’ve never missed it. I do watch movies.)

    I “abandoned” Georgette Heyer without reading a single word of it. I just got scared off from the cover. I’ve never read a modern “romance” and I just thought it looked air heady because it was all pastel and stuff. Maybe I”ll revisit it some day. I know, bad me for judging a book by its cover.

    I’m not sure Disreputable History really is a romance. It’s a teenage relationship story. I just saw someone’s review of it and thought I’d give it a try as a replacement for the “romance” for my summer reading program. I’m trying to go outside of my box for this summer program. I’m not very daring usually…

    I did like Uglies. But I’m not so excited about Pretties for the reason you mentioned. In fact, the first chapter at the end of Uglies was really a turn off for me. I’m not sure I can handle it. I’m going to try to get my review up tomorrow in time for the upcoming Bookworms carnival submission (YA Fantasy).

  11. I remember reading an article years ago about someone who was sad that she could take her kid to the gym and drop her off at the child care unit while she worked out, but there wasn’t really anyone who would let her do that so that she could have an hour to sit and read! For some reason, many people just put reading way down on their priority list.

    I do hope that you pick up the Georgette Heyer again. It took me years to read my first one because I was afraid of the cover (at this was an old loaner from a friend published by Harlequin! Even worse than today’s sourcebooks covers.) Now I’m so so glad that I started reading her.

  12. As mentioned above by others, when people ask how I read so much, I tell them I don’t watch TV. I don’t think people realize how much you can read in the time it takes to watch a few TV shows a night. If someone chooses TV for leisure, I’m fine with that, but don’t look at me like a freak because I choose not to.
    All well covered territory, I know…
    I loved Becoming Jane and the Uglies series. I have wanted to read Beekeeper’s Apprentice–can’t wait to read your review.

  13. Molly, sometimes I think a gym membership could be great because I could just sit and read while my son is being watched. But yeah, I totally get your point!

    I may give Georgette Heyer a chance. I think the “judge a book by its cover” thing came this week when I had plenty of other books in my library loot to choose from. I guess I just wasn’t in the mood for a romance. Maybe someday!

    Shelley, I think we book bloggers must hear similar comments from in real life people! It’s all so familiar, apparently.

    Did you read a book for Becoming Jane? Or just the movie? I did enjoy Beekeeper’s Apprentice. I liked it but it was not my favorite, but mysteries normally aren’t my genre of choice.

  14. I never watch TV! I rarely watch movies (but that’s more because the best time for me to watch is after the kids go to bed; and by then, staying up for two hours for a movie seems too long).

    It can be hard to read with kids around, definitely. My kids are not the quiet type to leave mommy alone when they see her with a book :-). But I don’t give up trying.

  15. Great post – really gave me something to think about as I have fallen victim to the “too busy to read” syndrome. Thanks for making me reconsider my priorities.

  16. Valerie, My son (age 21 months) still lets me read sometimes, but other times he is a bit clingy. I’m sure the older he gets the harder it will be!

    Juliann, I hope you enjoy making reading a priority! It really must be to get done sometimes.

  17. I just saw the movie of Becoming Jane. Is there a book? It would be interesting to read.

  18. I don’t have time to read… as much as I’d like. I don’t watch tv, unless you count sometimes checking the baseball score while my husband does. I do waste a bit of time online, but really, I need more time. I envy you a 21 month old who will let you read. If I’m alone with the 16 month old at my house I do not read. He needs constant interaction. And if I have BOTH children I am lucky to get to sit alone in my chair at all. I do still read, and I sew, but it’s a struggle to find a chance.

    Disreputable History has a relationship in it, but it is not the point of the story, except that she does what she does in reaction to her boyfriend. The story is really about Frankie herself. It’s smart and I really enjoyed it.

  19. Shelley, I just checked amazon. I guess the biography I was thinking of is called Becoming Jane Austen by Jon Spence. I’m not sure if it’s a basis for the movie or completely different…

  20. Lisa, I don’t work outside the home, so I think that helps my little one play by himself a lot during the entire day. I think if he was coming home from day care every night, he’d demand my attention a lot more! But yes, I’m very grateful for him for letting me enjoy books still!

    I’ve realize that Disreputable History isn’t really “romance” but since that category was just for my summer reading program and was optional, I don’t think it matters. Not crazy about the book at this point, but thus far I’m persevering.

  21. Awww. Too bad about Donne. I have a great textbook that I read Donne out of. Tell me you read “The Flea”? I love that poem.

    Spoon River Anthology was one of my favorite volumes of poetry to read when I was growing up.

    Have a good weekend and happy reading.

  22. Vasilly, I just realized that I have slim Barnes and Nobel volume of Donne’s poetry, so I am going to get to it, probably soon, after my reading of Atwood’s volume. Thanks for your encouragement. I do like poetry. And Spoon River is up there on my TBR too!

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