Don't look at me like that! I know, you saw the title and you're thinking, "What do you mean, feeling guilty about reading?" but let's be honest...a lot of us do sometimes. Sometimes it's guilt that we're reading while our kids are running around playing or when the house needs cleaned. Sometimes we feel guilty because there doesn't seem to be enough rooms, but there's never a lack of books that need a home and sometimes it's that number we see at check out that makes us heart stop and the guilt rise. Whatever the reason is, (and I get it. I've been there! I've felt guilty for every single one of the reasons I listed!) you shouldn't have to feel it.
Now, I could wax poetic about how you can't take care of others if you don't care of yourself, or how we all deserve to be spoiled every now and again. And, really, what's a little less space to walk when the books piled in the walk way make you so darn happy, right? But, guess what? No matter what reasons I give you to not feel guilty, it doesn't change anything. You're still going to feel that twinge sometimes. So, what can we do to help you change that guilt before it pushes you to stop reading? ("That could never happen!" you cry. Well, I said that once, too, and yet I still found myself avoiding the book out of guilt for all that wasn't getting done, and then avoiding even thinking about the book because of the guilt I felt for not reading them. It was a cycle I recommend avoiding if possible...
Of course, I could go the other way and talk about never leaving the house without a book so that you can spend your commute or time in the waiting room with your nose in a book, or I could talk about listening to audio books as you drive, but that doesn't exactly solve the issue, does it? It just adds more time to immerse yourself into your literary world of choice that day which, admittedly, is very valuable but it doesn't help with any guilt...
So, let's talk about ways that we can change our thinking and actions so that we can enjoy reading without the guilt, shall we? Let me just share first that I, myself, have used these methods over the years to allow books to become a bigger and more enjoyable part of my life. While they helped for me, they may not work with everyone.
Okay! Let's get to the good stuff!
1. Schedule your reading time. I know! It sounds crazy! but when you make it a part of your schedule, you're not taking time away from something else. You're just honoring an appointment you have! That's an honorable action!
2. Use time to read as a reward to yourself. I actually have my reading time scheduled for the end of the day. That way I get all of my cleaning, cooking and work done for the day and I get to celebrate with a good, relaxing book. It also means that, if I complete my to-do list early, I have the option to reward myself with even more reading time!
3.Make reading time a family affair! This doesn't have to mean that you have to read the same book as your significant other or kids (though that can be a very fun experience, too) but set aside some time on a regular basis for the house to go quiet while everyone lounges in the living room or takes up a strip of the bed next to one another and read. This way you're not abandoning your duties as a parent or companion (in case you felt like you were) and you're even sharing a love of reading with a whole new generation (assuming you have kids). Plus, it's quiet and relaxing and we all know that can be very welcome side effect!
4. Set goals for yourself. I am actually working on reaching two reading goals. One is to read 40 or more books in 2020 and the other is to get a blackout on my Reading Bingo Card (I'm off to a great start...with two squares filled so far...and one of them is the free space!). By setting goals, I'm working toward something. I have a tangible reason to read regularly. (You can play bingo, too with the same card I'm using! Click here! )
5. Allow yourself to let go of books you don't want to read again, or books you've never read but have learned you really aren't a fan of the author or series. This will turn your struggle with finding space into a proud and rewarding experience and help you ease the guilt of adopting more books. There are a number of ways to do this including passing them on to a friend or donating them to your favorite used book store (we love getting donations!). Many used bookstores offer some form of reimbursement or credit for you as well! (The Emporium doesn't yet, but stay tuned! We're working on it!)
6.Share you books! You can do this by passing along you books you no longer want, or by just talking about the books your reading! There are a number of groups on social media as well as those in your physical life! By sharing your excitement, thoughts, lessons and experience it can feel a little less selfish and allows you to connect with others which is very important for our mental health.
7. Remember, we all need some "me" time in our lives. It's hard to come by and, it can feel a little selfish, but when we make ourselves a priority to relax, enjoy, have fun and have our own thing, we're happier, more enjoyable to be around and a better relationship partner, so, really, it's kind of like we're really doing it for everyone in our lives, right?
Those are just some of my ideas. Do you have other suggestions to help take the guilt out of the time you spend reading? If so, let us know in the comments!