Friday, 6 February 2015

No time for reading? There's no such thing

Mark Zuckerberg's 'Year in books' is easier to achieve than you might think 

Hey girl, even I make time for this shit

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg loves a new year's resolution. In 2009, he ditched the trademark grey t-shirt and vowed to wear a tie to work every day. The following year, he undertook the somewhat more challenging task of learning to speak Mandarin. And in 2011, things got downright bizarre as he decided to become a vegetarian for the year - unless, that is, he himself had butchered the animal being served up. 

At the start of 2015, the social media king announced his latest maverick challenge. This year, he had decided to set up a worldwide book club (as you do), with the aim to read a new book every other week. 
“I’ve found reading books very intellectually fulfilling,” Zuckerberg wrote. “Books allow you to fully explore a topic and immerse yourself in a deeper way than most media today. I’m looking forward to shifting more of my media diet towards reading books.”

The man makes a good point. An ironic one, certainly, given that his very own social network means millions of people spend hours per day immersing themselves no further than in the holiday snaps of that person they once met at a house party, that time three years ago. 

Coincidentally, as Zuckerberg made his announcement, I'd just completed a very similar reading task myself. Mine actually went one step further, though - at the start of 2014, I'd decided to try and read at least one book a week. Yes, admittedly, before I get too smug about it I didn't also have a multi-million dollar global company to simultaneously keep track of. But even still, it seemed like quite a big ask. Reading a whole novel a week, while also working full time - who's got the time for that? I'd sometimes struggled to read that much even when I was at uni, studying English literature - when at just six hours contact time a week, I now realise this is faintly laughable (particularly as I did in fact find the time to watch about eight seasons of Grey's Anatomy in a matter of weeks.)

But here I am, one year on, with over 60 books under my belt (a week of doing little else other than ogling Greek waiters and sizzling my albino skin on a sun lounger meant I actually exceeded the book a week target), with the knowledge that as much as we might all think it - and I definitely did - there is time for reading alongside our oh so busy, constantly in touch and tuned in millennial social lives.

Here are some of the easiest ways I found to find that time...

On the commute

I truly admire all of those people who can make the same journey, day in day out, with nothing but their own thoughts for company. What are they thinking? How have they not been driven mad with nothing to distract from that woman obnoxiously filing her nails, or that man over there, picking his nose? For those of us with a sub-standard internal monologue or a dislike for the Metro, the commute is a brilliant time to get some reading done. It's predominantly down to the half hour I spent reading to and from work last year that I completed (for the first time ever) my new year's resolution. Seriously - what do all your starer-out-of-the windows think about?

At lunch time

Stylist magazine recently launched the brilliant 'reclaim your lunch hour' campaign, in hopes of ending the lunch-at-your-desk culture that exists for most office workers in Britain. I've always taken an issue with this practice - like Lena Dunham's absurd character in Girls, I need to eat at regular intervals to stave off collapsing, and after spending hours staring at a computer screen my contact lenses become stuck to my parched eyeballs like the brush in a dried out nail varnish. Obviously, if you do manage to salvage that hour-long break, many of these will be spent in the company of your colleagues, discussing the office politics. But occasionally, try and sneak off with your book and you might find you come back in a better frame of mind than you would have after an hour of lunchtime banter. 

In the bath

Oh come now, don't give me that 'stewing in your own filth' rubbish. Admittedly, if you're in a rush or need to wash your hair, a shower is the speedier and more convenient option. But don't write baths off altogether. Whether you make time for one on Sunday morning, or after a hard day's work, this is prime-reading time. Load up with Radox, maybe light a few candles if you feel an Instagram coming on (try not to), and just twenty minutes a day will see you get through a darn sight more of that paperback that's been stashed by your bed for the past six months. 

Before you sleep 

Studies consistently show that sleep is interrupted and comes a lot slower if it's preceded by the glow of an iPhone screen, as we flick through Twitter or watch yet another episode of Game of Thrones. So it's a good idea to occasionally step away from the tablet and open up a book before bedtime. Even if your 9 to 5-fried brain struggles to get through more than a few pages, it's still something. 

As you exercise

I thought it was a myth, or something reserved for the characters in American sitcoms, but recently, I've seen a fair few real-life people reading in the gym. Book propped up on their exercise bikes, they peddle away, in all their multi-tasking glory (or madness, possibly). To be honest, I'm not sure how successfully you can cycle or take in a book if they're happening at the same time, so I'd actually advise the cheat's option - download an audio book to listen to, and that 5K might go a little faster.