It’s 3 p.m. Kenyan time. I’m at the bus station, waiting for a bus home. The sun is still up, even though I feel like it’s just two inches above my head. It’s staring at us humans with an unforgiving brutality, as if intending to lick our sins. It can’t get more intense with ‘Crime and Punishment’ by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I take it out and locate the bookmark. There…
“Eh, umemaliza hiyo yote? Si una bidii?” A middle aged man asks. I turn. He smiles. You’ve probably met them- humans who feel the need to attach themselves to another person by randomly chatting away. He’s one of those.
“Eeh”, I reply. Or what else could I have said?
“We unapata wapi time? Ama una mtihani?” I don’t remember exactly how the rest of the conversation went; I only remember the sun had licked up all my energy.
So, where does one get time to read?
Plan to read
If you have no plans, you probably won’t do it. Same with reading. You do not exactly have to do a chapter every day; but a simple reading plan would do. What are you reading? When do you anticipate to finish it? How can you spread out your time to hit your target?
Set reminders just like you do with meetings. Have it in your to do list to read something. It’s especially a great exercise for your brain to read something in the morning (or any other time you wish).
Cut time on other activities
Bad news: you’ll have to cut down on reading gossip columns or what celebrities are up to, especially if you have no prospects of being one. Cut on unnecessary TV time. By now, you should know that all soap operas have the same plot. In fact, you can be resourceful by helping the producers come up with new content. You’re not gonna get paid for watching all EPL games but by reading, you’ll be paying yourself tenfold.
You’re probably gonna miss out on the latest series in town, or on what baby number Kim Kardashian is, or how many layers of makeup beauty experts are now recommending, but it’ll be worth it.
You’re gonna cut the time you’ll be talking about Trump; there are enough talkers already.
This year, be something. Be a reader.
Use commuting time
I cannot count the number of books I attribute to reading while on transit. I knocked off Boniface Sagini’s Thrills and Chills (90 pages) while to and from Rongai – destination Nairobi. Okay, that’s an exaggeration but I covered more than half of it.
Use the time spent waiting
Waiting for someone? (City dwellers are well known for being stuck on traffic). Instead of getting mad while waiting, read a few pages.
Waiting for a bus? Read. Waiting to be served? Continue reading.
You could buy or borrow. That will give you the motivation to read. If you are a good borrower, chances are you’ll get to borrow a second time, and a third. Borrow from friends and become a member of a library near you.
Start with books that interest you. Do not feel obligated to read books by Kenyan writers. Of course it makes a lot of sense to support your own but start with what appeals to you. Ignore the pressure of the ‘what you should be reading list’ ; but you can borrow from it. You as the consumer, are the most important in a piece of art.
Like Charlie Munger, a voracious reader, billionaire, and vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, once commented: “In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time – none, zero.”
Me neither. 🙂
Don’t pressure yourself
Reading is not a competition. Hone your speed reading skills but do not feel pressured to read one book a day so that you can talk about having read 365 books at the end of the year!
Read for a reason but please don’t peg your reason entirely on the quantity.
Attach a value to your reading
Does it make you better? Does it enrich you? Is it teaching you something useful? Find it.
I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m never going to buy hard copies of all the books I want to read. So I dropped all the ‘hard copies smell nice’ or ‘being in love with paper’ tags. Let’s be honest, how much time do we spend on the phone running through social media?
“I find it hard to read ebooks”, is a common thing to say. Guess what, so much is available for learning. If you confine yourself to reading hard copies, you’re limiting your access to some very cool stuff out there; not to mention the affordability. And the convenience, oh my!
So get a reading app.
Join a community of book lovers
It could be a book club or a writing group as ‘The Writer’s Guild Kenya’ etc. A community will psyche you up. Plus, book discussions are pretty insightful.
Be accountable. Always have something to read near you. Carry a book around.
Notice the book?
Paragraphs add to chapters. You do not have to finish a 400 page novel in three days.
I’m an average reader myself; that means I do a book a week or 3 books in two weeks for shorter ones.
Congratulations! You’ve just won yourself 30 hours a day! You can now use the extra 6 hours to read.
It’s never gonna happen. Readers do not have more time and if you’re looking for time to read, I’m sorry – I haven’t seen it either. Wait, the time is actually with you.
And if you’re still stuck, hey, I’m here.
One thing I can bet on, you can never be too busy to read if you truly want to!
Happy reading year #2018