Technology can give you more book time.
By Whitney Archer
The stay-at-home dad was juggling two kids, a pile of books, and his car keys, all while trying to check out a pile of kids’ books at the library’s circulation desk. “Do you have any ideas to help me actually find time to read?” he asked. I laughed. If I could change time, I would have fixed my schedule a long ago.
I get it. Reading takes time and the idea of sitting down for several hours might seem overwhelming. While I can’t help you chase kids or unburden your schedule, I can suggest a few ideas that you might not have considered. Thanks to some new reading technology, you can still enjoy the latest Celeste Ng novel (which I recommend, by the way) without having to halt the world around you.
I read a lot. Last year, I read somewhere around 150 books. That may seem like a crazy number and maybe it is. But I wanted to share a few tricks that I’ve found useful to adding more books to my daily life (which includes a 9-year-old, a hyper dog, and about two side hustles each for my husband and me).
How do you read more?
Listen to audiobooks.
If you spend any time commuting (hello, northern Virginia!), cleaning, or finishing other mundane tasks, audiobooks are for you. You can pay for an audio service like Audible, but if you’re looking for more formats – or if you want a free option – the Prince William Public Library System has many options for listening to whatever book you’d love to “read.” We have fiction, mystery, nonfiction, and biography audiobooks on CD if you have a player in your house or car. For those with smart phones or cars, we have access to downloadable books on Overdrive or hoopla digital. All you have to do is hit play and you’re reading!
- The Girl with All the Gifts, by M.R. Carey
- Room, by Emma Donaghue
- Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell
If you have a tablet or eReader, eBooks are a great way to read on the go, maybe while you’re waiting in line at the DMV or the doctor’s office. An eReader can hold any amount of books, magazines, or comic books without weighing down your bag. A few minutes here and there, and before you know it, you’ve read another book! Also, if you struggle with reading small print, many eBooks have text that you can enlarge to ease the strain on your eyes. You can also look up the definitions of words, highlight and share meaningful sections, and download more books when you’ve run out without having to go to the library or bookstore.
- A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson
- A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki
- Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, by Helen Simonson
Read graphic novels, kids’ books, or young adult books.
There’s no rules on what you can read. Really! I’ve enjoyed exploring the world of graphic novels (they’re so much more than comic books) and bonus: they’re quick to read! And it totally counts. Kids’ books are also great on audio as they’re often short, yet well-written. What book did you love as a child? What title was a classic you never read? Young adult books are often sidelined because of their label, but they’re written for all ages, including grownups.
- Graphic Novel: Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi
- Comic Book: Ms. Marvel, by various or anything by Raina Telgemeier
- Kids’ Books: Inside Out and Back Again, by Thanhha Lai
- Young Adult: The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas or Dreamland Burning, by Jennifer Latham
Cookbooks or other Nonfiction Titles
If you’ve never browsed the cookbook section at the library, you’re missing out. These books are incredibly beautiful and often include much more than recipes. And yes, they count as reading! Take some time to explore a section of the library that you’ve never spent much time in – science, handcrafts, travel guides. We carry a lot of popular or classic titles and you might find a new favorite genre.
- Cookbook: Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach
- Nonfiction: Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, by David Grann
Many magazines are much more than celebrity photos – they have long form essays, current events, or DIY instructions. Swing by sometime and find a new title.
If you have an eReader or smart phone, the library gives free access to RB Digital Magazines. This services allows reader to check out digital magazines with no waiting, due dates, or late fines.
- The Atlantic (digital and in print)
- Martha Stewart Living (digital and in print)
- HGTV Magazine (digital and in print)
Just remember, there are no rules in reading! Try a different genre or technology and you might find something that will change your reading this coming year.
Whitney Archer is often found at the Haymarket Gainesville Circulation Desk. When she isn’t helping patrons check out books, she’s chasing her young son, reading (of course!), or crocheting. In her spare time, she copyedits and writes for literary journals. Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, AOL.com, and various magazines. She lives in Gainesville.