Finding a Way to Read with Zero Time or Energy

I have been an avid reader my entire life. At times, when I was much younger, devouring 3 books a week! That all stopped when I decided to go to law school. I constantly had my nose in case law book. Because of the constant reading for school, I couldn’t stand to even look at another book when I had a moment of free time. However, craving the escape and adventure that reading promises, I doubled down on comic books and graphic novels. They were a treat for my eyes and my brain and exclusively what I read throughout law school. I did not recreationally read a book without pictures for nearly four years. Even when I did eventually start reading all types of literature again, I mostly stuck with comic books and graphic novels. I was finishing them. I felt a sense of accomplishment and true enjoyment. Otherwise, I was too consumed with “the real world” … blah… and still felt like I didn’t have time to truly devote myself to anything more substantive, page-wise.

Enter motherhood. I still have a pretty young child. A baby (my baby, but very early toddler), only 19 months old. I’m often not allowed the time needed to shower solo, let alone the time, or mental acuity, it takes to read a book! When she goes to bed, I usually go to my bed… and sit there and zombie out on television or social media. It feels like actual work to pick up a book. The times that I have tried because I do try, I fall asleep! But the passion and yearning for reading still linger and I actually get sad that I do not have the energy to immerse myself into my once favorite pastime. I had to fix this problem. As mothers, we give so much bandwidth to everyone else, and leave so little for ourselves, if any at all. This one thing was a place just for me. But when? How? With what stamina?

It was as if Amazon read my mind. I received a marketing email for Audible. At first, I brushed it off. I love to turn the page so much; the smell of books is literally the second greatest scent in the world (behind old wood keg cooler walk-ins… I love it, you don’t need to understand). No way was I going to be able to get into someone reading the book to me. I signed up anyway because they were offering free introductory credits. I bought a book with my credits, Where the Crawdads Sing, and it was literally the best thing that I have done for myself in months. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to take a book seriously if I didn’t like the narrator, but that has not been an issue. While there have been some narrators that I found horrible, I was still able to immerse myself into the story after a few pages of reading. Just like when I read a physical book, my brain assigns how I think the characters should sound and they end up sounding that way. The time issue? Solved. I listen to the audiobooks on my way to and from work every day. Or at any time that I am in my car alone. There is a ton of dead time while driving. I never realized how much time. I never had the occasion for this wasted time to be put into any sort of perspective. Here is a perspective for you. Since October, when I started my first audiobook, I have read seven books! Here is a list of the books I’ve read/listened to and how many hours for each:

Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens (12 hrs 12 min)

The Ex Hex, by Erin Sterling (7hrs 24 min)

The Nickel Boys, by Colson Whitehead (6 hrs 46 min)

The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig (8 hrs 51 min)

Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates (3 hrs 35 min)

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, by Grady Hendrix (13 hrs 49 min)

A Witch in Time, by Constance Sayers (currently reading, I am halfway through the 15 hrs and 3 min)

That is approximately 67.66 hours worth of time spent in my car between early October and late January. I only live 17 minutes away from my workplace. Also, factoring in the time that I listen to books after I leave daycare carpool and while driving back to pick my daughter up from daycare—that’s a lot of time that I now get to truly utilize. I no longer get irritated thinking about having to deal with traffic. I get excited to get into my car and enter a new world. I do sometimes worry about whether or not I get too engrossed in the story to pay full attention to my surroundings, but I don’t think so. When there is something going on outside of routine traffic flow, I end up hitting pause because I realize I’ve not heard a word of the story being told, so I know my attention is where it needs to be. I have come to covet my new “alone time” routine and my drive is no longer strictly utilitarian—it’s fun! If you are looking for a way to entertain yourself, get back into old passions, or even find a new one, I highly suggest trying an audiobook.

Brandon Adler
Brandon Adler is an Assistant Professor and Librarian specializing in legal information and information literacy who is passionate about equal access to information and great cocktails. She lives in New Orleans with her husband, daughter, two cats, and a dog.


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