So I Have All of This Free Time….Why Am I Not Reading More?

Posted April 24, 2020 by Carole in Random Thoughts / 28 Comments

For the past 5 weeks or so, the county that I live in has been under Stay at Home orders.  And I have followed those orders.  I leave the house to get supplies when absolutely necessary but I am trying to limit those trips and use the food that I already have in my freezer and pantry.  I also take the dogs on daily walks and even went on an extended walk with my daughter the other day.  I am going to work but for just a few hours every day instead of a full workday.

In other words, I am home more than I have been in years and I don’t have anywhere that I have to be.  If you had asked me what I would do with all of this free time just a couple of months ago, I would have told you that I would read a lot of books.  I even told my daughter that I would be able to get through a big chunk of my review pile and thought I would be reading a book every day.

This is not what is happening.  I am still reading but I think that I am actually getting through fewer books than I would have if I were still following my pre-pandemic schedule.  So I have been trying to figure out what exactly is going on.

Why Am I Not Reading More?
  • This is not a vacation – I have taken time off work before just to hang out around the house and I did read a lot of books during those times.  I initially thought that this situation would be the same but it turns out that this is not a vacation.  These are uncertain times.  Unlike a vacation, we don’t know when things will go back to normal or what normal will even look like in the future.  It is hard to put myself in the mindset of having fun.
  • My house is busier than it has been in a long time – When the pandemic hit, my daughter was sent home from college.  The room that I call my library that holds most of my books and my desktop computer is now her classroom.  She is a music student so I am regularly treated to trombone concerts (she’s really just practicing).  She’s good and it is nice to hear her play.  I am trying to enjoy this bonus time that I am getting to spend with my daughter so I sometimes set my books aside and just watch TV with her.  My husband is working 3 mornings per week and is home for the rest of the week.  This means the TV is always going and there are just more things going on in the house to distract me from my books.
  • I am spending all of my time in the kitchen – This isn’t exactly true but it sure feels like it.  When my daughter came home from college, that gave me another person to feed.  There are 3 adults in the house and we all want to eat at least three times every day.  My husband and daughter both have Celiac Disease and have to eat gluten-free so I have been cooking a lot for years but this feels different.  I don’t even know if it’s the actual cooking or trying to figure out what I can make out of the things I have left in the house but it’s exhausting and time-consuming.
  • I am not spending as much time in the office – I listen to audiobooks at work.  I average about 4 hours of listening time in an 8-hour workday so I can usually get through an audiobook or two per week.  Since I am only spending a couple of hours per day at the office, my listening time is way down.  I need to start thinking about when I can work some listening time in around the house – maybe during all that time I am spending in the kitchen?
  • The books I should be reading just don’t appeal to me right now – Like a lot of reviewers, I have a stack of review books that I try to get to as close to the publication date as I can.  Every time I try to pick up a book that I know I should be reading, I am just not feeling it.  I have become the biggest mood reader ever and I am just trying to go with it.  The books I have been picking up seem to be longer ones which means that they take more time to actually finish.  
  • Focus – I think that all of these things really come down to one bigger issue – focus.  I actually had to go back to the beginning of an audiobook that I was halfway through because I realized that I had no idea what was going on.  It is harder to focus on a book when you aren’t sure if the company you work for will survive the pandemic and you are worried about the future.  It is hard to focus when things around the house have changed and your normal routine no longer exists.  It is hard to focus when you are worried about the health and safety of those you love and worry that the decisions that those in power are making will put them in danger.  It is just really hard to focus on much of anything right now.

So how are things for you during this pandemic?  Do you find that you are reading more or less than you normally would?

28 responses to “So I Have All of This Free Time….Why Am I Not Reading More?

  1. Its true that the house is busier now with more cooking etc. I am actually getting used to this but crave going back to normal. Great post and have a nice weekend!

  2. I'm struggling to read. It's taking me days even to get through each of the first three Harry Potter books due to being tired and having no concentration! It's frustrating as I want to be reading more but I'm just finding it hard. I'll keep ploughing on though! The rest of my routine is the same-blogging in the morning, housework when it needs doing, cooking meals, fitting in favourite films and TV catch up…just need the reading to get up a bit!

  3. Great post, Carole. And I found myself nodding my head a lot. 🙂 Like you said, this is not a vacation. I'm not at home, kicking back, doing nothing. LOL I'm working from home so a big chunk of my day is in the home office at the computer… not lounging on the couch with my feet up and a book in hand. Haha. And I feel you on feeling like we're living in the kitchen! It's only the two of us but oh my goodness… three meals a days, seven days a week. Gah! I am so not used to this. I feel like a pioneer woman. Ha!

  4. I feel you, Carole. Although you definitely have it tougher than me.
    When the pandemic started and everyone's stuck at home, I started reading A LOT but then, it feels that the no-leaving home kind of sunk down on me already that I just ended up in a slump this past week.

    This introvert me really can't wait for things to get back to normal.

  5. Great post. It helped me sort through my own thoughts about it all. The anxiety definitely keeps us from the level of enjoyment we have when reading on vacation. Uncertainty about what life will be like going forward is a constant question that distracts us from the joy of reading.

    I am on total lockdown where I live, in a senior residence. I had a lot of freedom to come and go before, which balanced nicely with having services available like cleaning, meals, and laundry. I had settled nicely into all that. But now our meals are brought to our apartments and we can't leave the community at all!

    No visitors either, of course.

    Since I'm kind of a hermit anyway, I can almost find the pleasure in that level of solitude…until I think about what it means!

    Hopefully we can all make something that works for the future.

  6. This situation is strange for me. I am lucky with my job situation (I know it!), and it's been tricky trying to balance being aware of the situation, while maintaining my sanity. Blogging is my norm, and helps me keep some of my stress and anxiety at bay. I am glad you are able to find a silver lining (you daughter) in all of this.

  7. Anonymous

    It’s been a rough couple of weeks for everyone. Ive been a stay at home mom/homeschooler for the last 3 years so being home a lot doesn’t bother me but my daughter and I enjoy going to the library and the parks we have, so we are missing that. My husband has been home on paid leave at least for the last 2 weeks and wants to catch up on TV shows in Netflix so I’m reading less because I’m watching so much TV and the news. And when I do have the time to read I can’t seem to concentrate on it. I just keep further behind. Hopefully soon everything will get better and people’s lives will go back to some kind of normalcy.

  8. Excellent post! I feel very similar. I am having a harder time with audiobooks and yes more cooking, which is when I do more listening or with laundry or yardwork. Reading is an escape but I am so moody. I haven't watched any tv oddly enough, no what I do is look at Twitter and FB and covid news. UGH. I wanted to get on to my sewing, quilting and knitting projects. And unpack those last boxes of china and hang pictures in the music room. But no… I have no focus.

    Anne – Books of My Heart

  9. What she said!

    Yeah, I should be doubling down on my reading numbers easily, but I'm not even at my usual capacity. Mostly the same reasons. 🙂

  10. I've definitely had to make an adjustment because of no more commute. I never realizes how much time going to work contributed to listening to audiobooks. I've made up that time by listening while I cook!

  11. Bea

    So much truth in this post. I'm doing more reading, though not quite as much as I initially expected. But I'm a stress reader and I've been stressed with the stay at home order in my state and the forced unemployment. I live alone so no one else is distracting me though the cat is not thrilled I'm home 24/7. So I have been reading a lot. I thought I could fly through my review pile but that hasn't happened. Instead I've been reading a ton of library books (yay for ebooks!), and some from KU. There are plenty of things around the house I could do but I'm not motivated. At least eight more weeks of this. My sanity may be history by then.

  12. i am retired, so staying at home (and i am a home body, i love my piece of paradise) hasn't changed. mr wonderful being around all the time has, but we are getting along great and i am loving that because retirement for him may come sooner than he planned. i find myself reading a lot, but i'm not sure how much i am retaining. writing reviews has become a chore and i hate that, so i am reading a lot of books i don't have to review if i don't want to. stay safe everyone. 🙂
    sherry @ fundinmental

  13. I am sorry to hear you're not getting more read, but when you think about it more it makes sense. Like you said it's not a vacation. I think we all deal differently with the stress and worries of this time and some will read more and others less. I can definitely see with the change to your routine as well as the stress that you are reading less. Maybe it helps to pick up a book that you really want to read? I read some lighter reads early in the crisis when all the change of schedule and stress was getting to me and that helped me get back into the reading mood.

  14. I like being at home so..well one less grocery trip per week is like it for me. I still go to work, so business as usualy here.

  15. I think I’m reading the same or more than I usually do. The only reading change I’ve noticed is that I’ve been reaching for “easier” books, like horror or YA. Stuff that doesn’t take a lot of brain power. I don’t have the attention span for literary fiction. I’m probably reading more because I’m not reading anything challenging.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  16. Me neither. I wish I was reading more but it's not happening.
    I can't keep focus. I'm an easily anxious person and what's been going on in the world has been really weighting heavily on me.
    We do cook a lot more also
    Plus I'm moody and not a lot of books seem to stick. Luckily the past week that has been improving.

  17. I really LOVE this post and relate so much to it. And its really true. Its hard to focus when the world is changing and we don't know if we will ever go back to normal. I hope we will, it will just take lots of time before it does. My focus has been the biggest factor in all of this. I don't have stay at home orders, but its close to it. And I stay home anyway because that is the responsible thing to do (other than the weekly visit to the mountains with the deer and birds lol I need fresh air and nature or I would go crazy) but my reading has really suffered. But I am slowly getting my reading jive back. But I am keeping busy with lots of blog projects I have.

    Good luck and hope you and your family are staying safe through all of this. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on a topic we all relate to so much. Just don't lose hope….we will be stronger for this and hopefully a more unified people.

  18. I've heard a lot of voracious readers say that they've had trouble focusing on books during the pandemic. The worry, anxiety, and just the unprecedented unknown of it all really wears on some people. I haven't had that problem, but I haven't been super motivated to do anything productive either. It seems like all I do is read, eat, cross-stitch, sleep, and – like you – spend time in the kitchen cooking and cleaning and trying to figure out what we're all going to eat. I agree that that is exhausting. Some days, I'm like, "What's for dinner? Whatever you make yourselves!"

    Hang in there! This quarantine can't last forever, right?

  19. Yes, yes, yes. All of this yes. You said it all so perfectly, Carole. I could have written this, but it wouldn't have been so eloquent. Thank you.

  20. I have less time for reading as I'm working so much but I don't think that's why I'm reading less. I'm having trouble staying focused and move on from book to book.

  21. I agree with especially with how this isn't a vacation and it's hard to put oneself into the mindset of having fun and the focus – it's been somewhat difficult for me because anxiety and stress has been high. Like your daughter, I'm now doing classes from home (although I can safely say I hate Zoom now). Fortunately, the time does give me extra time to finish my senior portfolio that I normally wouldn't have, but it's still strange all the same; I've always expected to do more of a presentation in person rather than well… cold emailing people and hoping for a response (which really just adds to the anxiety). I notice I've been reading more sometimes, but then there are days and weeks that I don't read at all.

    I hope you and your family stay safe and healthy! (It's also strange saying this regularly now.)

  22. Yes this! While we are home far more then we ever were I haven't found that my reading time has increased all that much. Not only am I still having to do school for my 10 year old but I'm also now his only "playmate" and am trying to spend even more time with him then I usually do doing non-school stuff. Add the regular house stuff – cleaning, laundry, cooking and all that goes with that – and there just isn't that much excess time. I will say that we are saving quite a bit of money from not going anywhere. I don't really feel like we've made any sacrifices with shopping and our food bill is probably higher but we are still spending so much less then we normally do. It makes me wonder just what we were doing with our money out in the world as I don't feel like I'm missing anything!

  23. Great post! I didn't read a lot in March, but April has been a slightly better month. I know that I'd probably be reading more if things were "normal" though for sure. I don't always feel like reading, and focusing is tough some days. There is so much going on in the world and so much fear and uncertainty, that it makes it difficult to want to do something like reading…even if reading is fun for me and usually how I cope with things. We're in unprecedented times for sure. I'm hoping that my reading will go up a bit as time goes on, but we'll see. I'm also just trying to find other ways to relax and enjoy myself.


  24. I definitely have been reading less. I think I've told you I am a teacher, and not only am I now homeschooling Eleanor (which I love), I am also providing support and feedback for my sixth grade resource students, finishing IEPs, sitting in on virtual meetings, and getting paperwork done for the end of the year – which is now coming a week early for students. Teachers will still work those contracted days, but we will be doing professional development from ours homes, to prepare in the event that school must remain online in August. This is definitely not a vacation, that's for sure! I am not at my computer seven hours a day, I spend as much of it as possible with Eleanor without ignoring my work obligations. Reading only happens in those usual times it did before the pandemic came – and sometimes not even then if I still have paperwork to finish.

  25. I agree. Some people seem to be getting so much done as if it is a holiday but I am still studying as hard as ever for university, if not more so because of everything being online. So not a holiday for me either. And my focus has been a lot lower too. While my reading was good in April it is on the decline again as it was in the beginning of quarantine.

  26. I haven't worked since my daughter was born, which was 24 years ago, so I'm use to staying home. My husband has been working from home and has put a kink in my normal routine. I'm normally doing things around the house listening to audio-books, now that's he home I have to mindful of his teleconferences and such. Since I'm not out and about, I'm finding more time to catch up on blogs and blogging. Hopefully things will return to normal once again.