Making time to read & Recording what I've read

This is the third post in For the Love of Books blog series.

Not having enough time to study all the things I want to learn and read all the good stories ever written is one of the quotidian grievances of being a human who loves to engage with the world through words.

I love everything about reading: the quest for good books, the joy in a good read, the challenge of intellectually rigorous books (admittedly, I read few of these), the escape from everyday life, the physicality of hardcopy books, and the ease and accessibility of digital books.

I love books. I love reading. Compared to many people who love reading I am not a fast reader. I don't set goals to read x number of books per month, except to always have a few books on the go. I don't speed read, I don't want to. And I can't imagine speeding up the time on an audio book to get through.

"Getting through" is never the point for me. That whole idea makes me cringe. The point is the experience, the point is to interact with the words themselves, to evaluate the ideas those words are trying represent. To ask myself, are these ideas true? Are they true for me? What can I learn here? How do I see my own experiences and the world differently because of this book?

When do I read?

I read throughout the day and I tend to assign certain kinds of books to specific time slots in my day.


In the morning I read devotional, scriptural and spiritual reading. In this life season I read Richard Rohr's Daily Meditations delivered via email. (This is definitely not book reading but it's the perfect size for a 10 minute reading and reflection before I meditate or while eating breakfast.)


Books I'm reading as study material I read during lunch or after lunch. But I easily slip into story reading during this time. #sorrynotsorry

Sometimes this is a natural response if the situation doesn't warrant study, sitting in a busy lunchroom at homeschool co-op for example.

I don't have this reading period every day. It's kind of hit or miss. And I vary this with other lunch-time study, including webinar trainings and audio teachings I'm interested in. (Currently working through teachings on the flu, essential oils and communication strategies.)

Depending on the day, this is 30-45 minutes of study, but it doesn't happen every day.


My other main reading time is in the evening, before bed. Again, this time is dependent on other factors, like how much TV I watch with my family, another activity I really enjoy. The "before bed" slot is my main story reading time. I haven't timed it but I'm guessing another 30-45 minutes. If I'm captivated by my current "subject book" I will read it during this time also.

Weekends & In-Between Spaces

Then there are weekends and waiting, and other interstitial spaces in my life. This is mostly story reading time for me. I add a couple hours of reading into my week this way.

I take semi-regular hot baths, prime reading time, and occasionally experience the golden Saturday or Sunday afternoons (once a month, or so) where I check out and read/nap for hours. Oh my gracious. Heaven.

Writing this all out reminds me of my early days of blogging, where I spent many more hours a week than I do now working on my blog. I liked to fiddle around with graphics and new headers and adding this feature or that. I did a lot more photography then also. I loved it. All of it. It was creative and interesting to me. And I remember reading less and even writing about reading less because of blogging.

Social Media vs. Books

Even now, in a "reading season" of life I can see how social media can take me away from the reading I really want to do. I'm not making any judgements on social media in this post (I have personal judgements for sure, but I'm not writing them here, not today) I'm simply observing and commenting.

In those interstitial spaces of life, the in-between, the waiting, the brief down moments, I can grab my phone and scroll through IG, and I do, regularly. I adore Instagram. All the beautiful photos and stories from people's lives, it's like my blogging world ten years ago.

But if I have a good story on the go I can just as easily grab a book in those spaces of my life.

That's a relatively simple daily choice that enables me to read more.

Keeping track of the titles I've read

It's important to me to keep track of the books I've read because I'm a life recorder and rememberer (memoirist). I feel good when things are written down.

I use a bullet journal for monthly, weekly and daily to-do lists as well for general journaling and spiritual reflection. I've written a bit about how I build my bullet journal here and here.

The bullet journal method has been one of the most effective planning/journaling tools I've used in my adult life. I'm a huge fan.

One of the features of my journal is a two-page monthly spread with dates and calendar entries on one side, and big to-do's and monthly summary on the other. On these pages, as part of my overview for the month I record the books I'm reading, and books I've finished that month.

As I've already mentioned in this series, I read a lot of books in digital format, using the Overdrive app on my iPad. This works well for me because most of my reading is fiction, biographies, memoirs and other "stories". These kind of books are often readily available as digital downloads through my library networks, and easy to read digitally.

When I'm done reading a book in Overdrive I keep it on my bookshelf until I've either written it down in my bullet journal or recorded it in Goodreads.

My intention is to regularly update my "read" shelf on Goodreads every couple months, ideally adding a short review of each book I've read. Reading 3-4 books per month, I could easily write a short review of every book I read if I stayed on top of it. I don't. Stay on top of it, or write reviews for everything I read.

Next post in this series: What I read in 2017 and mini-reviews and recommendations of my favorite titles.

I welcome all book-talk in comments or email.

« Using the public library (mostly for digital books) and finding good titles to read
2017 in Books: Reviews and Reflection »
  • Jill Emmelhainz

    Jill Emmelhainz on Feb. 28, 2018, 2:25 p.m.

    I call myself a voracious reader. If I have a spare minute, I have book in hand. I haven't considered taking time to analyze what types of reading I do when. That will be interesting to ponder!


  • Chessa

    Chessa on Feb. 28, 2018, 5:09 p.m.

    I salute folks that can do their life/book tracking with a bullet journal but if you are not a pen and paper person (I am not; the inability to share across devices and lack of editing ability makes me itchy) then I higggghhhly recommend checking out the following book tracking spreadsheets.

    Link to Reading Spreadsheet of Doom 2018: Link to the live show/how to use the spreadsheet YouTube video (fast forward about 2 mins to get to the start):

    That’s the tracker I use, and I LOVE IT because I love data and it auto generates so many charts, graphs, etc. I also like tracking my acquisitions with it, both to see how much money I’m spending on books BUT ALSO to see how much money I’m SAVING by checking things out at the library!

    Admittedly, it’s a BIG spreadsheet, so if it’s too much but you still want to track your reading online, might I suggest this handy dandy one that Book Riot created:

    Bonus of that one is that it has a Read Harder Challenge tracker, so if you’re participating in that challenge (I highly recommend it! It’s my 3rd year doing it!) it’s convenient. :D


    • Renee

      Renee on March 11, 2018, 12:48 p.m.

      Chessa, thanks so much for sharing these resources! I've checked them out and though I'm still a fan of Goodreads and Bullet Journaling, I think it's really neat how people connect with different tools and ways of keeping track of reading (and life in general). I really appreciate you taking the time to share this. I may end this book series by pulling together all the recommended resources from comments here and in FB, we'll see. Happy Reading!


  • sonrie

    sonrie on Feb. 28, 2018, 7:09 p.m.

    In high school, I used to make handwritten or typed lists of books I wanted to read, then go to the library and check a bunch out. Every few months I would re-do the lists. These days, I rely on Goodreads and my local library systems mostly for books. I often listen to an audiobook but am not interested in reading on my phone or other device. I prefer a hard copy.

    Definitely, I try to read in the early morning, at lunch, and right before bed, as long as I can with whatever the week holds for me. It's how I learn, relax, and enjoy free time.


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