How I’ve Been Replacing Television Time with Reading Time

I have a Book Riot confession: I’ve watched a lot of television lately. There are some amazing shows out these days, and there is something so easy about settling back on the sofa or cuing up an episode at the gym and just zoning out. It’s my proxy for meditation or more sleep, and I’ve noticed it creeping into more and more parts of my life.

I’ll be the first to say that watching television can be a great thing; for instance, I’ll never have a problem with putting a show on while I’m cooking a great meal in my kitchen. A few months ago, I stopped picking up books almost entirely. I realized that, with the busyness of adult life, I only had time to read a little or watch a little television, and I knew that I saw benefits to reading over television.

This was difficult for a few reasons, namely that publishers market books less heavily to me, books require more from my brain usually, and it’s harder to put a book down and immediately be able to pick up another great one. Services like Hulu and Netflix have given me an almost effortless way to move from show to show, movie to movie. While I could say that audiobook applications do the same thing, for physical books there is no real equivalent, other than maybe a book vending machine.

So I made two simple rules for myself. If my hands are free, I want to choose books over movies and television.  Second, I always have a book handy when the first rule applies, so I move books I’m interested in reading from their homes all over my house to a particular shelf, which also holds library books.

By creating the hands-free rule, I gave myself the option to continue doing some of the television watching I enjoy during important activities like cooking and running at the gym; it’s inconvenient to hold a book while doing those things, so I might as well catch up on the next Gilmore Girls episode. One big place where I’m cutting down on television time is with my husband; we often settle in for an episode or two in the evening, and I’m trying to change that to reading time, since we both enjoy a good book and, as a perk, it prepares us to sleep better than a loud and stimulating show. When we were watching Stranger Things, I had serious trouble falling asleep!

In order to make sure I always have a book on hand, I’ve created the “to read” shelf on my mantelpiece, which means that there are always books I’ve started, books I’ve wanted to read, and library books sitting there, beckoning me. I thought that a specific book would  “call” to me if it was “time” to read, and that habit led to my current television-filled life. The key, it seems, was to be open to a few book possibilities rather than needing them to each be exactly what I wanted to read at the time.

I’ve found that an interesting part of increasing reading time is that my mind wanders when I read. I have way more creative thoughts during a book than I do during a television show. I am still interested in zoning out sometimes. However, I’m starting to see that books are actually the original way to get out of my own head and into another world. As I have been replacing television and reading more, I’m training myself once again to love reading as a daily habit. In the past, it was a thing that, for a long time, made it onto my to-do list but not into my actual activities.

Book Riot has helped me as well. The recent article about How Television Influenced My Reading Life reminds us that we come to reading from all kinds of places. We’ve also covered crossover topics between television and reading, like Bookish Blerds (Black Nerds) On Television.  We’ve also noted things like the 8 Scifi and Fantasy Series that Need to be Adapted for TV. All the proof is there that anyone can go from loving television to loving both television and books, because they offer different things and having both enriches your life.

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