This August was tough. I was finishing up vacations, coming down from various forms of Summer Fun (that usually involve staying up past my bedtime and/or eating and drinking indulgently), and otherwise re-adjusting to Normal Life. Also, sweating a lot. I’m really no good in hot weather.
So I did what any reasonable Type A weirdo would do – what I’ve done time and time again in my time of need: I scheduled. And scheduled. And then scheduled again, for just a few more hours. Micromanaging one’s life isn’t a sustainable hobby, but I find it soothing. And occasionally I land on something that sticks.
Enter: The Reading Lunch.
On Mondays and Fridays – the two longest/hardest days of the work week – I get myself out of the building on my lunch break. I bring headphones and two books. I buy a cup of coffee. I finagle a seat. I figure out how much time is left for my break, divide it by two, and set a timer on my phone. I read one book until the timer goes off. Then I read another. Then I go back to work (…and eat my actual lunch while I do email).
This has been a really pleasing ritual for me. When it’s book review season, or I’m doing something like the Cybils, having a dedicated time to plow through some pages takes the edge off. If not, it’s just nice to know I can sit down – guilt free – with whatever book I want. I like bringing two books because unless I am completely obsessed over a book, 30-40 minutes is a long time for uninterrupted reading. 15 to 20 minutes is more manageable, and the timer is part of the ritual: you can read without watching the clock, waiting for the ding. Two books can bring a little variety into my reading life. I can make a little headway on a Required Read and follow it up with a Non-Required Read. I can cheat on my Currently Reading books with something juicy from my Drawer of Shame.
Additional bonuses: Vitamin D, caffeine buzz for your afternoon work, the day goes by more quickly if you leave the building at some point.
If you too are looking for excuses to squeeze more books into your day-to-day, add this routine to your stash of reading tricks.