“I don’t have time to read,” an acquaintance announced in a recent virtual meeting. She then added without the least sense of irony, “I can tell you what I read in the news or what I’m binge-watching on Netflix, but I don’t have time to read books.”
Let’s pause to appreciate the import of that last statement. How many hours did this person spend binge-watching Netflix in the past month? Presumably, Netflix shows weren’t on her list of required tasks – the activity was recreational. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that; we all have our favorite methods of unwinding after a long day. Nevertheless, it’s not that she didn’t have time to read. Instead, she chose to spend that time watching Netflix instead – as a personal decision, not an unavoidable circumstance.
Many of us find ourselves too busy to read as much as we’d like or should. As a librarian, I feel a certain responsibility to read voraciously, to expand my understanding of the literary landscape so I can be more helpful to others. But like many of you, I have limited discretionary time at my disposal. (No, I don’t read at work. Librarians’ reading is done on personal time.)
I often feel like I don’t have time to read. Yet my personal time audits remind me that I do have time, but I have to be intentional about it. I can’t simply assume that I’ll consume books during my spare time, even though it’s an activity I truly enjoy. Just like everyone else, I have many options competing for my attention during downtime, so I have to set priorities.
One of the most popular yearly resolutions in the U.S. is to “read more.” Most of us realize that reading is a valuable activity, whether or not we like doing it. Just as exercise keeps our bodies healthy, reading increases our mental health and acuity. But just as many of us skip the exercise we know we should be doing, we neglect to fit reading into our schedule as well.
I’m not advocating that you spend all your discretionary time reading; that’s not a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Go for a walk, hang out with friends, play with your dog, watch a movie or anything else that increases the joy you find in life. But instead of feeling like you don’t have time to read, recognize that you have the power to choose reading over something else.
On October 1, Botetourt County Libraries encourage you to join our “Fall Into Reading Challenge.” The goal is simple: read as many hours as you can squeeze into that month, and log that time on our Beanstack app (or paper log to transfer later) by October 31. Bonus: the more hours we all log together, the higher our library’s chance of winning a year’s worth of free children’s books and ebooks from the book service Junior Library Guild! Yep, it’s a contest.
Let’s show them what Botetourt can do. This month, choose reading.
Botetourt County Libraries