Long gone are my childhood days of free time to play, explore and read. Since I was a child, I have always been fond of books for the knowledge and escape they provided me. I was never that nerdy type that preferred reading over a nice game of kickball. I spent a lot of time outdoors, riding bikes, playing with neighborhood friends and my pets. I also had my fair share of television sitcoms and cartoons. My parents were not readers, either, so I did not get my appetite for books from them or anyone really that I can recall. What I can say is that when there were no friends to play with or parents to annoy, I could always turn to my books. Stories always filled a void that I never knew was there. Being that I was never really popular, you would think that I’d be a various reader with top reading speeds and a long list of books read. Yet, I cannot say that I am a great reader, nor a speed reader by far. Quite the opposite, I am a very slow reader where it may take me 2-3 minutes to read a page sometimes. I choose to not let this stop me along with all my other excuses to not read. Excuses like: work takes up all of my time, I can’t read with the kids, my husband is too needy, and there are just too many chores. Trust me I know excuses, with three jobs, a full family of athletes and a grandbaby it is really challenging to make time for my pleasures, which are reading and cooking beyond the family meal.
How do I make time for reading? Well, I start by assessing how much time I have. In a 24 hour day, I take what hours I have left after my essential tasks are done (sleep, eat, family and work). If I sleep 8 hours, work 10 hours, run errands or do chores 2 hours that leaves me with 4 hours a day, Monday through Friday. Weekends there is even more time! Since I like to read multiple books at one time, I will often have a night time book, a daytime book and an audiobook. The book that I read at night, is usually more of an elective that sits on my night stand. My daytime reading is usually lugged around with me and is one that I prioritize due to being a book from book club or one that I am doing a review on. And my audiobook is easily accessed on my librofm app on my phone. The audiobook is one that I can listen to when walking, exercising, or doing other mindless tasks such as dishes. Every time I get in the car, I play my audiobook, even if its only a five minute drive.
Along with assessing how much time I have in a day, I also give myself a goal or deadline. This helps push me when I get distracted with a show or other activities. A couple ideas for accountability is to join a book club or follow a reading challenge. Most book clubs meet online or in person once a month to discuss their book of the month. There truly is a book club for every kind of reader! If you don’t find one you like, you can always start your own. I started mine in February of 2022 and our members have been growing. You can check it out if you are interested at Culinarian Book Club. A reading challenge usually has a timeframe, but also gives you a focus on what to read at the same time. There are many out there on the great WEB, but here is one that I have on the back of my bookmarkers. Enjoy!
“Always keep a book in your bag or pocket. And read whenever there is a space of time.”
Most of all, if you are having fun and engaging with your reading, you will find yourself automatically just picking up your book over a remote control or your phone. One way that I enhance my reading experience, is by making food that is inspired from that book. By doing this, I connect with the story, whether a memoir or a cozy mystery, I bring the story to life through my senses. For example, I made this traditional cheesecake (recipe provided in the book), but add my touch of candied kumquats on top, which are a especially tart. This fruit can be ignored and passed by in a grocery store for those who are unfamiliar with it, just like a person of color might be overlooked and misunderstood. The balance of flavors in this dessert helped me to connect on another level to my reading of Kwame Onwuachi’s memoir, Notes from a Young Black Chef. An excellent read!
Finally, just start reading and if a book does not capture your attention in the first few pages, put it down and grab another one. You do not have to finish a book that is not meant for you. You will know when the right book is in your hands, because it will be difficult to put down. Check out some reading lists on my shop page for ideas or if you are leaning with starting with an audiobook, you can see some of my recommendations on my affiliate, Librofm page, as well. Wishing you a life filled with books, friends, and good eats! Happy Reading, Cooking, and Eating!