You may never see me reading . . .

“How do you read so many books?” my boyfriend asked me recently. “You know, I never see you reading.”

I laughed initially, thinking about how that could be possible. I never leave home without a book, tucking my latest read into my purse or gym bag. Novels litter my trunk and the backseat of my car; they’re stacked precariously in piles around my office, taking up residence alongside my file folders and old newspapers. My bedroom boasts my white bookcase stuffed to the gills with books, now double-stacked and wedged into any available space.

My books are everywhere. And I’m always reading.

But Spencer is right. When together, we’re off taking photos, watching movies or playing Tetris. We’re baking or chatting or web surfing. I don’t read in front of him because, in my mind, that’s a solitary activity — something I do on my own. To unwind. And since Spencer prefers to read things like magazines and how-to manuals, if at all, it’s not something we can do together.

Most of my reading time comes late at night. My dad hung a little shelf above my headboard when I was little and, um? Best shelf ever. I’ve had a bright bedside lamp perched there for more than a decade (never the same one, unfortunately; only Target’s finest $8 desk lamps for me). At this point, I’m pretty sure it would be biologically impossible for me to fall asleep without a book in my hand. More often than not, I wake up in the morning to find my current read splayed on the floor with a bookmark discarded near by. I won’t even remember falling asleep.

When I’m too tired to make much progress in a book before I shut my little eyes, though, I depend greatly upon my lunch hours to get some serious reading done. I’m not averse to eating alone; in fact, I rather enjoy it. My local haunts include Panera, Einstein Bagels and Noodles & Company, my personal favorite, and I order my lunch, grab a small table and sit quietly with my paperbacks. It doesn’t take me long to rejoin the characters I’ve only recently left, and restaurant noise doesn’t bother me. I’m pretty good at tuning things out. On any given afternoon, I can cover 50-60 pages while downing some pasta or snacking on a sandwich.



Of course, sometimes I meet friends or family for lunch. Or I have errands to run. Or I’m too busy at work to take a break at all, in which case . . . well, no reading for me.

And that’s when I break out the big guns.

I read at home.

Sometimes I feel like I have wheels on my feet. Flitting from place to place, stop to stop; everything in motion, blurring and incandescent. It’s actually rare for me to sit on the couch for a prolonged period of time, and when I do? It’s because I’ve scheduled in TV watching time, especially on Thursdays. Who can beat that line up?! “The Office,” “Parks & Rec,” “30 Rock,” “The Big Bang Theory” . . . yeah, I’m all over that mess.

But when I force myself to sit still in the evenings, I can often devour a book in a few hours. Just make sure I have a mug of chai tea for company.

So Spencer may never see me reading . . . but I’m reading all the time. I can say, very honestly, that not a single day goes by without me flipping quite a few pages. It’s my passion, obsession, devotion; it’s my life. A big part of my life.

And so is he. And my family. And work. And my writing. So I twist and turn and make everything fit.

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25 thoughts on “You may never see me reading . . .

  1. That bookshelf sounds awesome. I have a little end table that has a lower shelf that I use to keep my current reading pile. I tend to read a lot on the train during my morning/afternoon commute, but it’s a fairly short commute so sometimes I find myself not wanting to get off the train when I get to my stop! Reading at lunch is a great idea. I tend to stay at my desk and get distracted by work or the internet.

    • Commuters will want to shoot me for saying this, but I actually envy you that reading time on the bus/train/Metro! I used to work in D.C. and had a long ride into and out of the District, which provided ample time to get into books. I get distracted by work and the Internet at lunch, too; I have to physically leave the building to get any reading done.

  2. Finding time to read is definitely something I’ve been struggling with lately. Between two part time jobs, class once a week, finding time to write, etc. I don’t always find time every single day like I would like. Oh well. I guess I need to plan my time better.

  3. Love that bookcase!

    You can read quite a bit if you read a few pages in spare moments, or while you do other things. I think often when people say they don’t have time, they’ve forgotten that if you carry a book when out, etc, you can make use of the time spent queuing or, as you do, eating lunch.

  4. I get a lot of my reading done on the train. A 35 min commute flies by when I get caught up in a good book. More than a few times I’ve had to grab my bag and dash off the train because I’d lost track of time. So far, I haven’t missed my stop. I have gotten on the wrong train, but that’s another story!

  5. Lunchtime is my favorite time to read. I spend so much of my time doing things for other people that it is “my” time. I sit down to nourish my body with food and my soul with a good book.

  6. Great post, Meg! I end up doing a bit of reading at night when I’m home, before dinner and again after Boyfriend leaves (before I go to bed). I also try to dedicate a couple hours on Saturday and Sunday, but once the weather gets good that will probably disappear.

    Reading over lunch is one of my favorite things. I usually end up sitting at my desk for most of it, but I can usually get in a full chapter of reading, and I love giving my eyes a break from the computer screen.

  7. I am also know for never leaving home without a book, my family teases me. When my teens were younger I spent much time reading in my car, or in a park, or at a Starbucks during their sports practices….I’m sure other moms found me unapproachable, my nose in a book, but I grabbed what time I could. I read most evenings as my husband watches tv….I only watch some shows. I also take time each day to read….between housework, laundry, errands, kids, etc.
    My biggest enemy is the internet…..addicted…ugh

  8. I can relate to what your post. I don’t go anywhere without a book in my bag…even if I’m just going to the grocery store. I don’t mind waiting for anything, even if it’s a long wait so long as I have a book with me!

    I feel like reading is more a solitary activity although it’s not uncommon to find my husband and I both reading for a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon, especially if the weather is bad. But you can set your clock by the fact that within 10-15 minutes he’ll be snoring! When he has free time, we’re usually doing something together so most of my reading time is late night or early morning. And I’ve got a great (and cheap) lamp hanging just above my side of the bed. It shines right on me and my book only…perfect.

    My only problem is, unlike you, I’ve become a much slower reader than I used to be. I don’t know why but it’s driving me nuts!

    Thanks for a fun post, Meg!
    ~ Amy

  9. My husband always marvels I can read with a lot of background noise-he needs almost absolute quiet. I grew up in a family of 5 kids and all the friends and noise they bring with them I also grew up in a family of readers so if you didn’t read in noise you didn’t read. Luckily that means I too can read anywhere. I am very jealous of your reading speed, lately I’ve been in a reading slump and haven’t been getting through as quickly.

  10. I like this post very much…and your lunch looks good, too. I love reading at night and now that I don’t teach …I love reading in the morning. I love reading in the car, on a plane, and while any sporting event is on…

  11. It sounds like you do a great job of balancing reading with the rest of your life! I’ve gotten back to the rhythm of reading while I’m eating recently – it’s always been one of the true pleasures in my life, but unfortunately my husband was brought up in a family that frowned on reading while eating, so without knowing it, I kept it to a minimum. But recently I was thinking of the things I really really enjoy doing, and realized reading with my lunch was one of them! So I just told him, look, I’m going to start doing more of this, and I am much much happier now (not to mention, reading more)!

  12. Lunch time reading is the best – the only downside being that sometimes I can’t stop thinking about my book afterwards and have a bit of a hard time getting back into work.

    You’re right, people who are passionate about reading find ways to fit it into their lives. I don’t read a lot because I have an abundance of leisure time that is begging to be filled up. I read a lot because I love it and fit it in whenever and wherever possible – lunch breaks, commuting to and from work, when I really should actually be washing dishes…

  13. This post was such fun to read. I love hearing about other people’s reading habits. I don’t get any time at lunch for reading as I work at a small non-profit where lunch is a very social activity which I enjoy but I do get nearly 2 hours a day, four days a week of commuting time where I’m stuck on a bus and have nothing else to do. I pretend to complain about having to go so far but really it’s excellent. Especially when I have a good audiobook going on.

    Your Dad is a star for putting up that shelf. Mine read to us a lot as we were growing up – including the entirety of Lord of the Rings. I blame him for my reading obsession 😉

  14. I never read in front of my boyfriend or family and friends because like you said, I find it a solitary activity. Not only do I find it weird to read in front of people I’m supposed to be spending time with, but it’s easier to immerse myself and lose myself in a book when everything is quiet, I’m alone, and about to drift off into sleep anyway. I usually read before sleep too and in the mornings if everything is quiet at home.

  15. I don’t know if it’s easier or harder to find time to read when you are student but recently I feel like I’ve been missing out on reading a lot. In-between classes, I read. But it’s not very relaxing since I only ever manage to have 15 minutes of reading before the teacher enters. And they ALWAYS enter when I’m already in the interesting part. How do they do that?

    I spend 30 minutes of my lunch time and 30 minutes sleeping. At home, I’m usually busy with assignments and projects and…well, internet. I basically feel like I don’t have enough time to read. But whenever an opportunity arises, I take it and use it for my reading time.

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  17. it’s funny because i’m the exact opposite. u will always catch me reading. waiting for the train. in line at a coffee shop. on the beach. in the passenger seat of a car. i think i should follow your example and come up for air once in a while. reading is a solitary act for me too. but it’s definitely not limited to moments of solitude.

    p.s. a bookshelf above the bed sounds like a dream. i’ll have to try it.

  18. Love this blog post! I can really relate. It’s all about grabbing our reading time in small sips whenever we can, right? Ten minutes here, half an hour there. It’s all I can do to keep up with the great books stacking up in the TBR pile.

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