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Summer reading extends to Fall

09/03/03 12:00AM By Peter Gilbert
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(Host) If you still haven't gotten to all your summer reading, commentator Peter Gilbert has some tips for finding more time to read that you may find helpful.


(Gilbert) Well, Labor Day has come and gone, and like many people, I feel as if I've only made a dent in my summer reading. The stack of books I've been wanting to get to is still a big one.

The truth is that any season is perfect for reading. But there's the familiar dilemma, "Where will I ever find the time to read?" The answer is the same answer that Robert Frost gave when asked when he found time to write: "Like a sneak I stole some of it, like a man I seized some of it, and I had a little in my tin cup."

So here are some ways to fit more books into your busy life:

Read more than one book at once. Sometimes you feel like a sweet snack, other times something salty. The same with books. And if you're reading several at once, it's more likely one will be near at hand.

Don't finish books you don't like. There won't be a test.

Leave your book face down with the pages open to where you stopped reading, if the book is yours and inexpensive. You'll be more likely to pick it up again. At least use a book mark so it's easy to pick up where you left off.

If the arrival of a magazine provokes in you an exasperated, burdened sense of "more to read," let the subscription expire, and turn to the stack of books you've been wanting to get to.

Carry a book with you. Read while you're waiting - for the doctor, for your child, for an oil change.

Go to the library. People who are dieting should stay out of chocolate shops. People who want to provoke themselves to read should go to a library. They are chocolate shops for would-be readers.

Make conscious choices about watching TV. Instead of channel surfing, read a TV schedule: if nothing interesting is listed, don't turn on the TV to check. When your favorite TV show is over, turn the tube off before the next lame show begins. (I know, easier said than done, but how many times do you or I have to regret spending an hour watching junk?) Hide your TV, or move it to a less prominent place: Out of sight, out of mind.

Finally, don't wait until you feel you have the time to read a whole book (which is never). Just begin.

There will always be more demands on our time than we can meet. By being deliberate about how we use our time, we make time for those things that matter most. As author Annie Dillard has observed, "The way we spend our days is the way we spend our lives."

This is Peter Gilbert in Montpelier.

Peter Gilbert is executive director of the Vermont Humanities Council. He spoke from our studio in Montpelier.
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