Once upon a time I used to have an average New Yorker’s commute of just under an hour on the train. I lived way in the back of beyond at the end of the L train in Brooklyn, in a cosy basement apartment. God I loved that place. I was a few blocks from the water and would have ocean breezes come in my small windows in warm weather, in the winter I was just one thin wall away from the furnace and hot water heater so I could keep the thermostat low and still be toasty warm. I had a closet that was probably ten feet deep and five feet wide and lots of shelves. The ceilings were low, maybe just over six feet high, which made a lovely irony when you know that the apartment came with a step ladder.
And there was the great commute. I read more novels when I lived there, thick Russian novels that spanned several volumes. Anna Karenina, War and Peace, Dr. Zhivago, Dostoyesvsky, Sholokov and Sienkiewicz. I’d haunt The Strand for odd editions from the Soviet Union that were translated into English: Silent Flow the Don in four short volumes of more than 400 pages each, Netochka Nezvanova with the pages still uncut.
For the past seven years I’ve been at home in the high-interrupt world of young kids, with no commute, no long train or bus ride. When I go somewhere it’s because I’m driving. My book club was started because a friend knew she had a group of friends who needed to read something without pictures; something that dealt with bigger issues than the Cat in the Hat trashing the house, or the conundrum of giving a mouse a cookie. Being in the book club means I have a goal to read one novel a month, and I mostly reach that goal.
Nonetheless, it is still shocking to me how often I choose not to read. I have far more distractions today than I did then–not just the kids but email, twitter, pinterest, and my blog–but I do enjoy reading a good book. I can’t tell you how many days I find I have some free time and I spend a good chunk of the time mentally dashing back and forth like a squirrel in the road: should I do A or B? what about C and I’ve always wanted to …
I’m going to take a lesson from Margaret’s first grade teacher: each day in homework they are assigned to read 10-15 minutes. As Flylady says “you can do anything for 15 minutes.” So my new goal is to make time to read for 10-15 minutes each day.