On Finding Book-Life Balance

Being a graduate student and working has definitely been a challenge to my regular reading habits. I do know more about time management. And I know even more about skimming while reading, which has been a strange process for me. And while skimming is apparently a required skill for academic survival, it is not something I am applying to the reading I do for enjoyment.

Which means, every time a semester starts, I look longingly at all the books I won’t get to pick up until the next break. And I think of ways of finding time to read. 

changing reading materials

How do I fit in personal reading time while working and going to school?

I change some of what I read, and how I read. Because as much as I want to read everything I normally do, I have to be realistic about the fact that I can’t.  

Novels or longer books get put to the side, unless I find them in an audiobook version I can listen to while I’m driving or working out. There are very rare exceptions to this, and they usually happen on a miraculous free weekend. Especially since I will stay up way too late reading if the book is good.

Short stories, which I always love, become my main source of literature. I don’t mind, because there are a lot of excellent short story collections out there.I can manage them time wise, and sometimes I even re-read my favorites.  

Comic books and graphic novels stay in rotation. I can read them along with my school reading. Also, I just refuse to stop reading them for an entire semester at a time. That’s one area of my life that I’m not willing to compromise on right now. Plus, I’m taking a course on graphic novels this term. It’s a real victory for comic book life.

making time for reading

Reading when you have work, school, or just life in general takes a conscious effort. With so many other distractions available, it’s ridiculously easy to go on a social media trap, get caught up watching cute animal videos, or fall into a Netflix binge. You think you’ll just look for second, and then all your time is gone.

So, I also try to turn of things like the Siren song of Netflix if I know I want to make some progress in a book. I have even put my phone in a different room to avoid notifications. Or, when I can, I try to find a local spot with really comfortable chairs that I can escape to.

Basically, I have to tell my brain that we are making some time for this. Whether it’s reading before bed, or saving my reading time for lovely weekend chunks, I have to have a plan. Audiobooks are also a big help as they mean I can keep enjoying my books while I’m driving, or working out.

Oh, and I always have one of the books I’m reading with me. I am definitely that person.

It can take getting creative to find the time to read, but I’ve found that it’s really worth it.

Reader’s Guiilt

I definitely get reader’s guilt, and reader’s envy. People always seem to be picking up the latest amazing book I’ve heard about, or having read-a-thon weekends. It all looks pretty dreamy from my end. I know a lot of people who, like myself, put pressure on themselves to be on top of the reading game, or always up to date with the latest books. Unless you’re lucky enough to have that for a job, it’s usually unrealistic.

So, I think this semester I’m going to worry less about the fact that I might not be meeting some imaginary quota for my personal reading. I’m going to focus on just making a conscious effort to make time for what I know I can manage. I’m going to enjoy the set aside time for books, because ultimately I think the quality of the reading experience is important. Time to turn up my audiobooks, bask in my comics, devour short stories, and enjoy the ride.

 

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Yaika Sabat: Yaika Sabat spends her days as a library assistant in Texas. Raised by Puerto Ricans and German Shepherds, her background is as diverse as her writing. Her favorite things include comics, books, challenging the idea that comics are an inherently male space, Doctor Who, her cats, and puns. When she's not contributing to Book Riot, you can catch her at her blog, Glasses Attached. Twitter: @yikesyaika