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Joe McWilliams

Squeezing in reading time

Not being the possessor of a study, nor even being the master of my own house, I find I have little choice but to try to tune out the television while reading in the evenings. We have a small home, my wife and I, and she prefers the tube to reading in that period of, say 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. As a rule, I prefer the opposite, yet don't feel it quite right to deprive her of my company for those two-odd hours per night.
It takes a compelling TV show to get me to put down my book - depending somewhat also on the book, of course. There's a constant tension, and the TV usually loses. Unless of course my wife is out and I can watch hockey or football. Shocked

I need my reading time though and as good as I am getting at it, reading with the TV on takes something away from the experience. I used to have three lunch hours alone at home. That was very fine; just me, my sandwich and my book. Now we dine together every day, so I've lost precious reading time. Can't exactly say, 'Pardon me, dear, but I really must get back to my Dickens.' Wouldn't go over well at all.

What's a fellow to do? I know some of you read while commuting. Not possible in my case. I've already a reputation as an eccentric for walking to work (believe it or not); reading while I walk would ruin what respectability I have left, I fear.

However, I muddle through.

You've made me feel guilty, Joe.  I have time to read but don't actually fit it in anyway much.  Magazines at mealtimes, a few pages of my book in bed at night.  I can shut off the television, but I am very fond of my computer really, and spend far too much time on it, mostly checking messageboards!

The time I get reading is when we are on holiday and travelling - I can read easily in the car, so that's useful.  (Even then I vary it with mindless puzzles, like Sudoku.)  And when we're away I don't bother much with internet access, unless we are away for quite a while.  Might check emails but don't generally bother and don't have a laptop (though my husband does) or a phone that does fancy things.  In fact my cell-phone doesn't do anything at the moment - doesn't have the right company for coverage where I am, and seems to have run out of money.  (The Sim card is still the one I had in Britain, so possibly the money doesn't last all that long. But since I don't really use it, it doesn't matter.)

Have got away from reading time.  Every now and again I resolve to read for an hour in the afternoon, or do a bit of reading study, but this doesn't seem to eventuate.  I think I should turn off the computer in the afternoons.

Cheers, Caro.

I have the same trouble with mobile phones, I take a trip to Indianapolis each year and last year I took my normal phone so that I could contact my host when I arrived at the airport.
Of course it did not work on AT&T so I purchased a simple phone for $35.00 which I used for about 15 mins of calls.
This year I took this phone thinking all would be OK but was told it would cost $80.00 to fix it but as I was reluctent to to purchase another $35.00 machine I hunted around and eventualy got it fixed for $35.00 ! (of which I only paid $31.00 as the shopkeeper in America of all places did not want to take a credit card).

My other half likes television in the evenings too so I either go to bed and read up there or I use ear plugs. I agree there is no right answer and I do sometimes watch programmes I am not very interested in to keep him company. Luckily he his very relaxed about me taking myself away and sometimes watches the sort of programmes that he knows I don't like so we are both getting freedom of a sort.

Since the death of my partner, Eric, in 2006 I live alone, which means I can more-or-less read when I feel like it. Usually after breakfast for an hour. Sometimes in the afternoon for a while - maybe in the park, weather permitting. About 4.00pm for a while, and always at bed-time.  I also manage to see a lot of films on DVD, use the computer, cook, do chores, pay bills etc. shop, go to the theatre and cinema, watch TV.  I get through a lot of books.  This house is happily large enough for me to change my reading locations.  In my library (actually the dining-room), living-room, upstairs bedroom with a distracting view of the street and passers-by, this room where I'm writing this which has a comfy - too comfy sofa, a CD player and a radio.  
Usually when I settle down to read the phone rings - if it's A. or D. that means a 45min putting down of my book.  If my sister rings - she lets the phone ring a special number of times then rings off so I know it's her and ring back.
When Eric was around we'd be reading in different rooms. I wish he were here....................well, he is in a way.........

It must be hard working these things out as a couple...I too live alone, so it is not a problem I have had to deal with!  But I feel for you, Joe - I can't read when the TV is on, and I do admire your willingness to share your company and allow your wife her pleasure at the expense of your own.  Losing those precious lunchtimes is hard too - I remember when I had a full time job, I used to love the lunchbreaks - as you say, you, a sandwich, a cup of coffee and a book - bliss.

It's hard to know how to help, though - you could encourage her to find a weekly club or outing of some kind, so that at least you'd get one evening a week to yourself!  Would she really not understand if you went and read in the bedroom for a while?
Joe McWilliams

I could swear off sporting events such as the the UEFA Euro 2012 which starts today and the Olympics later this summer and devote all that time to reading...................................hmmmmm.

I'll get back to you on that.

I should swear off playing games on the pc also sudoku on my tablet and the Times book reviews and magazines and some of my forums (not this one) and actually read more.
I think those are why my attention span is getting shorter. Crying or Very sad

Gardens of Time on Facebook is my downfall...
Green Jay

I'm not very good at reading "properly" if the TV is on, though I can read papers and magazines which take less attention. I and my other half do not have a lot of programmes which we both like. We will watch wildlife, selected history and some music programmes together, (enjoyable to have that to share) but he doesn't like drama and I don't like sport. I find the background noise at televised football matches very irritating, and hate it when the commentators shout hoarsely over the top - same with horse race commentators. I feel guilty about watching rubbish if he is there - though he watches some rubbish too, just a different type! But we've always been very good at doing things apart without minding, as we both like different things and need time to ourselves. I will often go to be early and read for ages. I'm not usually the sort who can only read for 5 minutes before my eyelids drop. When that has happened for a few nights I'm aware  what an unsatisfactory reading experience it is. We're also lucky enough to have space in our house, with only one TV,  and a separate dining room where lots of books are kept. I did manage to get a comfy chair squeezed in there. When our children moved out - more or less, anyway - we just spread into the space and I'm not sure how we would downsize. (My mother-in-law expected us to do this and can't imagine what we use the rooms for. But then she has no hobbies, nor are they the sort who ever had to do work-related paperwork at home.)

I can't read in cars or buses, but I can't imagine reading on a long car journey. That seems a bit impolite to me - not keeping the driver company or stopping them from getting bored or getting lost! Trains are OK.

I don't know the solution, either, but I do know that it can be uncomfortable when solitary time gets eroded, even if you didn't realise how much you counted on it before. My other guilty thing to do is stay in bed at weekends reading and not getting up for hours. My other half is an early riser. How productive I could have been if I did not spend so much time absorbed in a  book! But what I would have missed, too.

I personally have no trouble "tuning out" the TV if the book I reading is compelling enough and interests me enough to do so. I literally switch myself off from everything that is going on around me. (I learnt this by tuning out my kids when they are arguing with each other  Wink ) I like to read in the evening but I do do other things like watch TV, go on Facebook sometimes but I don't play the games I used to but it got ridiculous with the bloody farms and other crap or play on photoshop - I like photography but I also like playing with photos and merging them together and adding stuff and changing things to make pieces of art (I'm totally self taught though so its not brilliant but it give me pleasure!)

I don't read in the car (as a passenger obviously) as it makes me feel sick and I don't use public transport at all so never tried it but am assuming I would get the same result.

The other time I read is at work in my lunchbreak.

Commuting is still when I do most of my reading. The train takes half an hour each way, and, once you add in the time spent on the platform waiting for late trains, that amounts to well over an hour a day. I like to read another half-hour or so in bed as well, but the brain is so tired by that stage that I can’t take in anything much heavier than some Sherlock Holmes, or a ghost story.

(We live a mile from the local station, and at the other end, the office is half a mile from Bracknell Station, so merely travelling in and out of work means walking three miles  three miles every day: I try to walk another mile or so at lunchtime.)

We don’t really watch television too much (and I watch even less than the rest of the family), but even without the distraction of the television, reading time in the evenings is limited: I like to converse with the children (well – they’re not really children any more, but I still refer to them as such!) and make use of what little time I have with them. The girl is sitting her GCSEs this year, and the boy is sitting his A-levels, so my evenings lately have consisted of going through the various past papers they have been doing for revision. (The mathematics A-level papers that the boy has been doing are quite an intellectual challenge for me these days, especially after a hard day in the office! But it all comes back after a few minutes…) And in the weekend, there are various household chores to be done: that doesn’t really leave much time for reading.

When I retire, I shall spend all my time sitting in my garden reading Tolstoy and Wordsworth. But until then…

Himadri wrote:
The girl is sitting her GCSEs this year, and the boy is sitting his A-levels, so my evenings lately have consisted of going through the various past papers they have been doing for revision. (The mathematics A-level papers that the boy has been doing are quite an intellectual challenge for me these days, especially after a hard day in the office! But it all comes back after a few minutes…)
So the million dollar question here is then have exams got easier??

A-level mathematics is of a reasonabl e standards. GCSEs are a joke. And why they're wasting everyone's time pretending to teach English, I don't know.

I'll take that as a yes then! When it was the old CSE and GCE O Level back in the day, I was told CSE's weren't worth the paper they were written on, and you had to be at at least a grade C O'Level standard to do anything - and as I recall a Grade 1 CSE was equivalent to a C grade O level, so I am guessing it is as I always thought that when the two exams were amalgamated to produce the GCSE instead of raising standards to the O level they dropped them to the CSE.

Which on a positive note, if I were to take GCSE's now then I'd probably be an A* student  Wink

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