Our Reading Lives

How Fidget Spinners Can Help You Read More (Really)

Abby Hargreaves

Staff Writer

Abby Hargreaves is a New Hampshire native living and working as a Children’s Librarian in Washington, D.C. She fulfills the gamut of the librarian stereotype with a love of cats, coffee, and crocheting (and likes a good run of alliteration). Her MLIS degree enjoys the company of a BA in English from Hollins University, making Abby an advocate of women's universities. Her favorite color is yellow.

The fidget spinner has probably been around for longer than you realize, but exploded in popularity over the last year as it’s been linked to being helpful for all sorts of things. While it seems there’s no evidence that fidget spinners are effective as therapeutic devices for folks with ADHD (at least, not across the board — individuals may still benefit), I found that I could use fidget spinners to read more. If your New Year’s resolution was to read more, you’ll want to read this:

Like most people, I keep my phone on me pretty much all day long (and it turns out the time we spend on social media could be used to read 200 books a year — wowza). It sits outside my shower and transmits the All the Books podcast to my Bluetooth shower speaker. I charge it next to my bed and reach for it first thing in the morning to check the weather. It sits on the passenger seat in my car and keeps me entertained with the Book Riot podcast while I lament DC traffic. I keep it next to me while I watch television so I can scroll through the news during the boring parts. And I stash it in my hoodie pocket while I read so I can Google what does epistemic mean? And then play a few rounds of Candy Crush. And then check in on what my friends are up to on Facebook. And play a word in Words with Friends. And check my email. And respond to that text I’ve left sitting for two days. And add to the grocery list.

Oops, I’m not reading anymore.

Fidget Spinner

the solution

I got a fidget spinner as a gift (glow in the dark, how cool!) and added some awesome hedgehog stickers. It wasn’t long before I was spinning it whenever I had a free moment. The whirring sound, the sweet hum between my fingers — I loved it. I spun it while eating dinner, while petting my cat, and, eventually, while reading.

And I found that when I was spinning the fidget spinner, I couldn’t look at my phone.

With my book in one hand and the toy in the other, I had to consciously put down the fidget spinner to pick up my phone. I quickly realized how often I was idly grabbing my phone with my free hand. And consequently ignoring the book in favor of it. How many hours had I spent with a book in my left hand and my phone in my right, fancying myself “reading” when really I was spending way too much time scrutinizing the same content on Facebook over and over? Too many.

So now, I read with a fidget spinner.

It hasn’t been perfect, but there’s a notable difference in how much I read when I have a spinner in hand. I still pick up my phone, often to learn about the history of one thing or another to get context for the book I’m reading and sometimes, that leads me down a rabbit hole. But overall, I’m reading more, and that’s a win.