Friday Fun – How much time do you spend a day reading?

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, writing-related question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: It’s the biggest complaint I hear from writers. I don’t have time to read any books, they’ll say as they gaze at the novel in my hands. Okay, so fess up. Do you read on a daily basis? Do you find it important enough to schedule it into your day? (should you?)

Wendy Thomas: I’m a reader. Fortunately I’m the kind of reader that I can keep several books in the air at the same time (there’s my downstairs book, my car book, my bedside book, etc.) I try to get in at least 30 minutes of pleasure reading a day. If I get to do more then it’s a Red Letter Day.

Reading to me, is an imperative as breathing. Not only does it relax me (and it’s a great pain killer for those of us with winter-weather aggravated arthritis) but it keeps me aware of other writers’ different styles. I’m writing a parenting/chicken memoir, so I tend to read a lot in that genre but I also like to read general fiction. I’m currently reading Hope:A Tragedy which is one of the most insane books I’ve ever read. The voice is so strong that I can help but be impressed as I turn the pages.

Bottom line? Reading is an important part of my job as a writer and so I make time to do it. Every. Day.

Julie Hennrikus: I read a lot of business/arts admin/social media books, articles, blogs. But I don’t read enough for pleasure, and I miss it. My TBR pile (to be read) is a big one. And my Kindle is queued with a lot of reading for both pleasure and work.

Though my reading routine is off right now, reading is one of my greatest joys. Is there anything better than not being able to wait to get back to your book?

Deborah Lee Luskin: Is it pleasure or is it work? Is there a difference? I read all the time and it still doesn’t seem like enough. In addition to novels, I read non-fiction, web-content, the newspaper and The New Yorker, plus about a half-dozen alumni magazines that arrive quarterly, and any number of newsletters. I read these last at lunch (unless I get stuck on the crossword). I don’t have a TV and I go for months without watching films; the last thing I want to do after a day of writing is hang out with my computer.

Time is an issue, though, and some days I’m forced to choose: reading or exercise? Even if I choose a long walk, I inevitably open a book when I climb into bed. Often, the book stays open longer than my eyes.


Diane MacKinnon: Anything I can do one-handed, I’m likely to do with a book (or my Kindle, or my smart phone with the Kindle app) in the other hand. That used to by my little secret, until I read an interview with JK Rowling a few years ago and she said she did it, too.  I used to burn a lot of stuff in the kitchen, so I learned to set timers. (Did you think I was going to say I learned to put the book down?) Anyway, I love reading and I read every day, even if only for a few minutes at a time. Those few minutes still add up to a book or two a week. Traveling alone on a plane is about the only time these days that I read for long stretches, but I look forward to it as much as the rest of the trip.


Lisa Jackson writerLisa Jackson: I try to read every day, but sometimes the night arrives and my eyes can’t take any more. I have several books scattered about in various stages of being read. Magazines are great for short story reading and I seem to devour those a lot more lately than novels. Every other month or so I’ll take a Saturday and just read the entire day. I love getting into other worlds, even for a short time, it’s great for my fictional muse – she likes to get out and play with others. 🙂

Jamie Lee Wallace: As much time as I can. Though I cannot remember the last time I was able to curl up with a book for a good, long read, I do manage to get a decent amount of reading in most days. Because I’ve decided that audio books are not cheating, I count the time I spend listening to books (usually about 30 – 45 minutes each day while I walk or do house chores or drive) as reading time. Each night I read my daughter bedtime stories (15 – 20 minutes) and then read a bunch of blogs on my iPhone while I wait for her to fall asleep (another 15 – 20 minutes). Earlier in the evening, I am usually able to sneak in a few minutes (10 – 15) reading on my Kindle while I wait for my daughter to get out of the shower. (I manage to concentrate despite her gusty singing.) And, on a really good day, I forgo my love of TV as a way to unwind and opt instead to take a book to bed (usually about 30 – 60 minutes). SO … let me see … that means that I spend anywhere from one-and-a-half to three hours each day reading. Wow. Sounds like a lot! I guess I’m not doing so bad in the reading department!
Susan Nye: I love, love, love to read. There are books all over my house but I only read one at a time. I keep it close at all times and read when drying my hair, standing in the checkout line and eating lunch. Even if I only have a few minutes, I will almost always grab a book over a magazine or newspaper. I love fiction, memoir and when an author pulls me in, holds tight and doesn’t let go until the very last page.

25 thoughts on “Friday Fun – How much time do you spend a day reading?

  1. Reading is like breathing to me. I read in snatches throughout the day. If I know I am going to be waiting somewhere, I bring a book. If I am alone, I read while I eat. I read while I brush my teeth. I always read for half an hour or so before I go to sleep. I read mostly fiction, but skim magazines, the Sunday New York Times, and a few blogs. My mother was always telling me to get my nose out a book when I was a kid. I never listened.

    • I am a nose-in-the-booker as well. Unfortunately, my kids haven’t seemed to pick up the habit (not for lack of trying, I think they have every children’s book that has ever been published.)


    • I am the same way, if I have free time I am reading. Even during my favorite TV shows, my nose is in a book during the commercials. I read a lot of fiction and a few blogs, and spend time reading the Bible before I go to sleep. Good to know I’m not the only book worm out there!

  2. I read in spurts while multitasking – all all hours, even during commercials if I watch tv (I press the mute button and away I go!). I set aside a block of time on Wednesday mornings – about 2 hours where I devote myself to “professional development” which involves doing a good bit of reading – literature to “study” a particular technique by other authors who have mastered a certain style (for example, right now I am trying to hone my short story skills, so it’s Flannery O’Connor, Andre Dubus as well as short story anthologies from sources like Glimmer Train, etc.). Simultaneously, I’m reading at least one trade book or journal. Typically have several books going all at the same time. Annual average is about 2 books per week – last year I think I read 158 books. A little obsessive maybe…
    I carry a big purse, though not because I’m a girly-girl who likes to have makeup, nail polish and other cosmetic accessories at hand. It’s so I can I have books close by at all times. I read ANYPLACE and have the God-given ability to tune out the world no matter how busy or loud it is. Once my nose is in a book, I’m gone. Off! Flying into someone else’s world!
    Got a list going at all times of things I should or want to read. As of today, there are fifteen literary novels, ten technical books on the list. That list is ongoing with recent additions: The Cloud Coach, The Princess Bride and Crush It – all recommendations from LTW-WTL writers, since I’m more likely to read a book recommended by another writer, especially if they feel passionately about it.

  3. I love to get lost in a book. When I’m traveling I get more reading done that when I’m home, and I find that even now, in Thailand, I look forward to getting on an old, crowded bus because it means I get to read for the entire length of the journey. I can somehow tune out the overwhelming heat in a second-class bus, and the dripping air conditioner in a first-class one. Even the people standing in the isle with no choice but to lean on those lucky enough to get a seat don’t bother me when I’m tuned into the world in my hands.

  4. As a college student who has classes, extra curricular activities, volunteering, and general craziness going on in life, it’s sometimes hard to find time to read for pleasure! Recently, I’ve found that forcing myself to pick up the book I’m reading at some point during each day, even if only for 5-10 minutes, is completely worth it. It encourages me to schedule my time in a more efficient manner so that reading fits into my agenda all the time!

    • GOOD FOR YOU!!!

      I just talked to one of my sons away at college about a book I had recently read. I was going to send it to him to read but then knew it would just sit on a shelf while he’s away.

      “I’ll just save it for when you get home this summer” I told him.

      So impressed that you are working time in during college to read.


  5. I can’t go to sleep without reading at least an hour first. Especially after a long day and especially after a day that I got some great writing in (yesterday I hit 4400 words on three different projects, plus read 25 submissions for an anthology)… when I get in a great day I need to distance myself before bed or my brain won’t turn off.

    Grabbing the Kindle and reading something not in the genre I wrote that day (for instance, yesterday I wrote 2 zombie stories and a traditional horror one), so I read steampunk shorts until I felt tired.

    Armand Rosamilia

  6. I read every night before going to bed. I read most of the time when I go on vacation while sitting outdoors and relaxing. Now that I can only tae 50 pounds per suitcase, this has cut into the number of books I can travel with, so then I turn to the Internet – like I am doing today.


    • Hazelm,

      That 50 pound limit is *exactly* why I went to a Kindle for travel. Before the days of limited poundage, I remember one trip to Ireland where I brought back so many books, I could barely lift the suitcase! There were just so many stories I wanted to share with my kids!


  7. Another great topic. Like so many writers, I was a voracious reader as a child. But somewhere along the line (probably college) I got the idea that certain kind of reading was “have to” reading, as opposed to “want to” reading. Which puts it smack dab into the middle of the procrastination pile (wasn’t that last weeks topic). I feel like I’ve missed out on so many great books for precisely this reason. Nevertheless, I still turn to reading for pleasure all the time. In the first most painful year of divorce, I discovered mysteries – a genre I had always avoided, and P.D. James and Elizabeth George helped me survive. Thanks! (and Wendy – is there really a genre of Parenting/Chicken memoirs? :)”

  8. I love to read… I think it’s especially important as a writer. We all have different strengths and few are magically perfect at it. I find it helpful to observe, while I’m reading for my own happiness, how other authors do the things that I’m not very good at. Not to copy necessarily, but just to learn from and to see how I can transfer what I’ve learned into my own voice.

  9. I try to read while doing most things. This means that I often burn supper. Although my kindle has helped with this, because I can set it down and not lose the page I’m on. I read a lot of Theology, History, and a lot of Fiction. The higher my stress level the more fiction I read. Right now I’m reading a Star Wars series. Since I write mostly poetry I get my inspiration for that from music. I listen to eveything, love a genres of music! I listen to music more than I read!

  10. I am with Diane– I read no matter what. Even things I should not be doing, I do one-handed. Of course, those book props and gadgets that hold books on your chest are very helpful. Such an addiction!

  11. I completely agree about needing to read at least thirty minutes each day if you are a writer. If you want to be a writer, it’s absolutely essential that you’re a reader!

  12. I do read more often than I even realize. Of course, I can get lost reading the blogs I follow, but I am also a Penn State University student studying psychology, so I spend at least 4 to 6 hours a day reading for my classes. I have hundreds of books on shelves, in bags, and stacked around my room just begging to be read. Unfortunately, I was not required in high school to read most the classics that are usuallly assigned reading. So, though I am now 40 years old, I figured it was about time to start. But I have so many, I do not know where to start. Willa Cartha, Charlotte Bronte, Henery James, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jonathan Swift, William Faulkner, Tenessee Williams, Thomas Hardy, John Steinbeck, H.G. Wells, John Keats, Carson McCullers, Rita Mae Brown…and those are just the ones right here on my desk. I like the idea of allowing myself 30 minutes a day to read for the pure pleasure of reading, and so, starting today, I will pick one of these amazing authors and begin. Thanks for the question and the suggestion! Happy Reading!


  13. I love reading. The material I read influences me heavily as a writer ( though as far as writing is concerned, I only blog). If I didn’t read I would know how or what to write.

    Although I don’t comment very often I’ve been following your blog for sometime now and I always look forward to new posts. I hope it’s alright that I’ve nominated Live to Write – Write to Live for The Versatile Blogger award.

  14. Reading? I usually set a daily time allocation if I have a massive book to read. I only read such on recommendation though. I always stumble into handy books and just hold unto them and keep reading whenever I’m not too busy until I’m done. With my mobile phone in hand, I read blogs at every chance and don’t even bother about books. Can’t remember picking up a book to read in the past three weeks. It’s been blogs all the way! I think I read two tiny novels in the last month and a big book about eight months ago.

  15. I’m with Wendy. Reading is as important to me as writing. I juggle several books at a time, too, from novels to biographies. I feel like a college student again, drifting in and out of each one as time allows or as circumstances dictate. Being a Homeschooling mom and artist, i cherish the time I can get lost in The Smithsonian or The New Yorker. It’s often after reading, and looking further into what I’ve read, that I write most reflectively and most Spirited. Most of my writing is expressed ala HipHop lyrical tome.

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