How To

6 Ways to Maximize Your Reading Time During the Pandemic

Matt Grant

Staff Writer

Matt Grant is a Brooklyn-based writer, reader, and pop culture enthusiast. In addition to BookRiot, he is a staff writer at LitHub, where he writes about book news. Matt's work has appeared in Longreads, The Brooklyn Rail,, Huffpost, and more. You can follow him online at or on Twitter: @mattgrantwriter

I don’t know about you, but my daily reading time has been nearly cut in half because of the pandemic.

Of all things, I never thought I’d miss the New York City subway so freaking much. I didn’t realize until it was gone just how much time I spent on my daily commute reading. It makes sense; snuggling into a good book generally kept me blissfully unaware of just how tightly I was packed like a sardine into a metallic tube hurtling underground at 40 miles per hour.

But there’s no more tightly packed anything, and my daily commute now consists of walking the 12 feet from my bedroom to the tiny desk in the corner of my apartment. Not exactly the ideal time to devour the latest chapter of the newest N.K. Jemisin novel or whatever.

It’s even more difficult now that warmer months are here. On sunny days, I typically spend hours outside at the park reading. But now when my wife and I go out, that time is spent constantly on the move, making sure we’re staying six feet away from whatever jogger is coming up behind us, huffing and puffing (and never wearing a mask—seriously, fellow runners, can we get it together here?)

This got me thinking: how can I get creative about my reading time during the pandemic? So I compiled this helpful list. Hopefully, it will inspire you to think of new ways to maximize your reading time also.

During Meals

I really can’t stand eating a meal by myself without having something to read at the same time. Growing up, I’d read the back of a cereal box if it was in front of me. Take a break from news and email. Use these precious times of nourishing your body to nourish your mind as well.

On the Toilet

Look, we all know that during quarantine or a stay-at-home order, the bathroom can quickly become the most sacred space in the house. Especially if you share a living space with other people. And now that pandemic pooping is most definitely a thing, use this to your advantage. Your roommates don’t need to know that you’re ingesting Jane Austen on the toilet; all they need to know is that something has been ingested…and you need more time for it to process properly.

In the Shower

Waterproof ereaders are valuable commodities in times like these. Not only can you take the time to soak in a nice long bath, but why not spend a few minutes in an all-too-short shower reading as you scrub yourself clean of those potential viral droplets? Water-resistant Bluetooth speakers are also handy for audiobooks. NOTE: this method is not recommended for print books.

On a Zoom Call

We’re all definitely spending way too much time on Zoom or other video chat applications, and the research shows it’s making us cranky and tired. So zen out to some Marie Kondo or other self-help books by taking advantage of the one benefit of these applications: the fact that you can literally have anything else open on your desktop and your boss will never know! Boring sales meeting? Little do your co-workers know that the “report” you just have to pull up here is actually a Stephen King novel. Just make sure you keep nodding and adding “mm-hm” over and over, so they know you’re paying attention.


Unleash the power of the subconscious, stick your earbuds in your ears overnight, and let that audiobook play to the end. Does it work? Will you remember any of it in the morning? Who cares? As soon as that audiobook hits “The End,” you can mark it as “read” on Goodreads. Totally counts!

While Washing Your Hands

Forget the ABCs; ever tried reading a book in 20-second increments? Kill two birds with one stone by increasing your reading time AND making sure you and others stay healthy.

So there you have it! Follow these simple guidelines, and your reading time will be maximized in no time!

How have you had to get creative with finding time to read lately?