‘I’d love to read, if I had the time.’

19/07/2018 Discussions, Reading 29

‘I’d love to read, if I had the time’

I’ve often found when talking to non-bookworms about my love of reading, they’ll come out with the statement ‘I’d love to read too, but I just don’t have time’, or something similar. And perhaps I’m being too sensitive, but I actually find this statement kind of insulting, and I’d love to know what other readers feel.

We all have busy lives, but very few people have no free time at all, and what you choose to do with it is up to you. For example, on my lunch breaks at work, I choose to read my book, rather than chat to people in the staff room or go on my phone. Us bookworms don’t just somehow conjure up extra hours from somewhere, and that’s how we fit in reading: we give up other things in order to do it, because we enjoy it so much.

I’ve found that many of the people who say this, actually watch a lot of TV, and whilst I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that (I watch TV myself sometimes!), it means that actually they do have the time to read. They just choose to spend it doing something different, which is entirely up to them. Just don’t then imply that us readers somehow have all the time in the world just to lounge about reading books. We don’t: it takes work to fit it in, but we love it enough to do it!

I’ve found it’s the same when you tell anyone that you blog, or are writing a book. People will say that they’d love to do that too, but they don’t know ‘where you find the time.’ In my opinion most people can find the time, even if it’s just ten minutes a day, if they care deeply enough about doing something. It’s usually the case that the person often doesn’t care enough to actually do the thing, but are rationalising it to you and themselves as lacking the time, even though they’ll spend hours at a time scrolling Twitter.

Again, there’s nothing wrong with this, I just don’t like people belittling people who do actually want to do these things, and are actively working towards their goal. The whole ‘I don’t know where you find the time’ thing somehow implies to me that you’re lazy if you have the time available to do such things, when I actually think the opposite is true. Devoting your free time to work on something you love is a good thing as far as I’m concerned!

Now don’t get me wrong: all bookworms and writers go through spells where they read/write less (perhaps because of a slump, or feeling unmotivated, or a big life event) but what I’m talking about here is a general lifestyle choice. If you genuinely want to read so badly, then you’ll just do it in my opinion. Most people can fit in a few minutes every day to read a book (or write one!) if that’s genuinely what they want to do. And if not, that’s fine. But please, please don’t put it down to a lack of time, as if us bookworms somehow have more hours in the day than you! We don’t: we just love reading!

So, fellow bookworms, what do you think? Does this annoy you too, or am I being unfair? Do you think that most people could read if they really wanted to?

29 Responses to “‘I’d love to read, if I had the time.’”

  1. Elley @ Elley the Book Otter

    I read a LOT and the trade off is I dont really watch TV (except for binge watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on Netflix…) This really shows when everyone at work is talking about some show or other – or even about a commercial they saw recently! When I say I haven’t seen that commercial people are like “how is that possible, it’s everywhere?” That’s usually when I try to remember the last time I watched actual TV and not Netflix or Amazon Prime… and I literally cannot remember the last time I watched TV!! Too busy reading. 😉

    • Laura

      I’m exactly the same in that I never watch actual TV (just Netflix or Amazon Prime), so I’ve never seen recent commercials either, which people find weird. I pretty much just watch specific shows I want to see (usually at a ridiculously slow pace!), rather than channel hopping, and the rest of the time I’m reading! 🙂

  2. ShootingStarsMag

    I totally agree with you! You might not have a TON of time to read or blog or whatever else you want to do, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have ANY time. And you’re right – I think saying that you’d like to do something but don’t have the time kind of implies that the person who is making the time somehow has more time or isn’t as busy as them (and in this culture, not being busy is kind of an insult in some ways). So yes, if you want to do something, you can find the time…even if it’s not a lot. I know that I really don’t watch much TV because I’m spending way more time reading and/or blogging, but I’m okay with that!

    -Lauren

    • Laura

      I’m glad you agree! I definitely agree that in modern society not being seen as busy is considered an insult, and it seems to imply that you’re somehow lazy (which in itself is pretty ridiculous!). So people asking ‘I don’t know where you find the time’ etc., does come off as a little bit insulting to me.
      I don’t watch a huge amount of TV either (in fact, I only usually watch one show at a time on Netflix or Amazon Prime, and even then, it’s usually very slowly!), as I enjoy reading and blogging more.

  3. Aj @ Read All The Things!

    I find that insulting, too, especially because people who say it often watch a lot of TV or are constantly posting on social media. The reason I read so much is because I mostly gave up TV. If you want to do something, you can find the time. You just have to make some sacrifices in other areas of your life.

    • Laura

      Yeah, that’s what I’ve found as well. And I have absolutely no problem with people watching a lot of TV or posting on social media if that’s what they enjoy doing, it’s just when they say stuff like ‘I don’t know where you find the time’ or ‘I’d love to read if I had the time’ that it annoys me, because they do have time, if they actually wanted to do that. You’re totally right in saying you just have to make sacrifices in other areas if it’s something you really want to do.

  4. Malka @ Paper Procrastinators

    Hmmmm. I’ve recently gotten a lot busier than I ever have before and it’s taught me some things about what I prioritize. I make lots of time to relax and unwind by blogging, going on social media, and yes, reading. But all of those things can also sometimes overwhelm me, and so I just go to Netflix for a more mindless activity.

    But as you said, that’s an active choice I make. I feel that people who don’t read on a day to day basis just don’t realize what exchanges they have the ability to make to give themselves time to read or whatever other hobby they say they’d love to do. But they also don’t realize how they carve out the time for the things that *are* important to them. Probably because those activities are more mainstream and so no one thinks twice about balancing them.

    • Laura

      I totally agree that people who don’t read on a regular basis probably don’t realise that it is something that you have to fit in around your life. It isn’t just that readers have infinite time to sit about reading!
      And that’s such a great point you make about social media and Netflix being more mainstream activities. Maybe because people don’t really think of them as hobbies, it’s just something everyone does, they never actually think about how much of their free time they devote to it.

  5. Nina Rapsodia

    Yes! I have discover that I spend too much time on social media on facebook, youtube, and that’s why I don’t read that much. So as people say above it’s about to choose your priorities.

    • Laura

      Yeah, it’s totally up to people what they want to do with their free time, whether it’s reading, or watching TV or going on social media etc. It just depends what they want to prioritise, so I’m not sure why reading seems to be the one that people assume you can only do it you have a lot of free time!

  6. Holly

    I totally agree with you – it is insulting! It suggests that we are lounging around spending all our time reading or writing when they have absolutely ‘no time’ to do that because they are so busy, forgetting that they also have down time that they spend doing something else! No one is working or super busy from the minute they wake up in the morning right through to the second they go to sleep, so if they really wanted to ‘find the time’ somewhere to read, I bet it would be far easier than they think. If I am really into a tv show at one point, I’ll find I am reading way less because I’m replacing that time with something else. Doesn’t mean I’m not doing work the rest of the day!

    Great post, hadn’t thought about it much before but now I will! (And I’ll be pointing it out when I hear it next…)

    • Laura

      I’m glad you agree! 🙂
      It does imply to me that people think we’re all lounging about with infinite free time, when actually it’s just that we spend the time they use to do something they enjoy doing to read instead.

  7. Angela

    Great post! I feel like most people aren’t SO BUSY that they couldn’t read for 20 minutes a day. My sister has an active toddler, but she is reading almost as much as me these days! It’s about priorities and balance. I bet most people watch way more TV than they think they do, and so some of that time could be spent reading. I feel like sometimes when I (or my husband) tell people how much I read, they look at me like I must have no life. But I do! I have a house to take care of, a husband, charity work. But reading is important to me, so I make time for it.

    • Laura

      I think that’s what bothers me: people think you have no life or something if you read a lot, when it’s actually just a case of prioritising it over things like watching TV etc. And I have no problem with people prioritising TV if that’s what they prefer, as long as they don’t start asking ‘how I find the time to read so much.’
      I think you’re totally right that most people aren’t so busy they couldn’t get in 20 mins of reading a day of that’s actually what they wanted to do.

  8. Sam @ Sharing Inspired Kreations

    I completely agree. If you want to read, you will find a way! People who say that maybe just have reading as a lower-priority hobby, whereas we have it as a top priority! I also read on my lunch breaks, and on my coffee breaks lol. I hardly have any time to myself since becoming a mom, but I still sneak in time to read!!

    • Laura

      That’s a good point. People who say that probably do have it as a low priority hobby, and don’t realise that people who read a lot are probably just putting it as a top priority, and taking time they would spend doing other things to read.
      And I can imagine being a mom keeps you very busy, so it’s great that you can still get in a little bit of reading time! 🙂

  9. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    I do get a bit annoyed when people say they don’t have the time to read because I agree, folks just aren’t making the time. But it’s a mild annoyance and I can’t be bothered to argue the point they’d have the time if they felt strongly enough about making the time. I don’t think it’s said harshly, though. I think it’s an off hand comment folks don’t even think about when they say it.

    • Laura

      Yeah, I think you might be right and it’s just an offhand comment that people say and don’t think about what they’re actually implying. I think I do tend to take things a bit personally sometimes!

  10. Tessa

    If I had all of the time in the world, then I would have a million different hobbies. Unfortunately, I am restricted to mere 24-hour days and, like you said so well, I have to decide what is the most important thing to me. Reading and blogging are so special to me because I DECIDE to carve out precious time for them. Even if it is just reading 10 pages a day or a couple sentences of a review, I will make some time for both of the things that I love.

    Even though I try not to take it too seriously, this phrase does get on my nerves. There are a lot of uses for the phrase, but most often it is used in a condescending way of “yeah, book blogging isn’t that hard and I could easily do it if I wanted to” kind of way.

    In the end, life isn’t a competition and not everyone has to have the same hobbies. I can read or blog and you can have your own hobbies without it being a competition.

    • Laura

      I’m exactly the same! If I had unlimited time I would have loads of hobbies, but I don’t and so I have to prioritise and decide to use my time to do the ones that really matter to me (reading, blogging and writing).
      I do feel that it comes across as condescending, and as if blogging or reading is easy, and I think that’s why I find it so annoying. You’re so right in saying that life isn’t a competition, so people should just do what they want in their free time and leave others to do the same, without making condescending comments.

  11. Carrie @ Cat on the Bookshelf

    I agree, though I’m pretty sure I’ve said “if I had the time” about some other activity. It’s all about how we prioritize our lives, and I put reading high up on the list. The problem is prioritizing what I want to read.

    • Laura

      I’ve probably said it about something else too, to be honest, despite my ranting here about people saying it about reading! 🙂
      I have the exact same problem too though with prioritising what to read. I’m such a mood reader, so I can’t plan ahead what I want to read first, I have to just go with what I feel like at the time.

  12. Chloe @ Book Dragons

    Aha gotta love the comment of ‘where do you find the time?’ oh I don’t know, I just magic up a few extra hours in my day to fit everything in. Like I love reading, blogging and writing. But I prioritse writing over reading and recently blogging too. There’s nothing wrong with that, other people may prioritise reading or blogging, again totally fine. But like you said, it’s like they’re implying we have tons of free time.

    I lose sleep to read, I disregard TV to read, write and blog. Like, we can do everything, sadly and if they really wanted to read. Then they’d stop telling everyone how they don’t have the time, and make time for it. Just like you make time for the people you love, you make time for the things you love.

    • Laura

      Exactly, there’s nothing wrong with prioritising different things, it’s just when people make that comment of ‘where do you find the time?’ It’s as if people do believe that readers somehow magic up extra hours! 🙂
      And that’s so true: if they really wanted to read they’d stop saying they don’t have time and make time for it.
      Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  13. Jane

    I watch a lot of TV (I consider online streaming services television all the same), but I also read. I’m currently in a reading slump (and legit injured, which makes reading all the more difficult at the moment), but when I’m not…I mean, even without “finding time to read”, there is literally time everywhere—commercial breaks are super long if you watch cable TV (I still remember the 5-minute break I endured, and that was not on the movie channels); commercials on places like Hulu and network websites are 1-3 minutes, which is more than enough time to work in at least a page; bathroom breaks make for great reading; while cooking; five minutes before bed; while blow-drying my hair.

    I feel like if you put in the effort in the nooks and crannies and stop waiting for time to just come around, the time starts finding you.

    • Laura

      You’re so right! There’s little bits of time everywhere that would otherwise be wasted where you can fit in reading if you really want to. I try and read whenever I have a few minutes to spare, and it all adds up in the end! 🙂

  14. Wendy @ Falconer's Library

    Well, I can never figure out how people find time to exercise, so…priorities! 🙂 I think it’s also a matter of what is just fun for you on some level. My sisters “garden,” but I “do yard work”–obviously we have different attitudes, and that is reflected in how much time we spend on it (and how much nicer their yards are).

    • Laura

      Haha, yeah me neither with the exercise thing! 🙂
      That’s definitely true about how much fun you get out of it determining your attitude. I guess some people just read books about topics they’re interested in for the information, and the reading itself is kind of a chore. So I suppose for them it seems like something you would have to force yourself to find time to do, as opposed to something fun that you’re excited to do.

  15. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    I rarely watch TV but just lately I have felt the time crunch and have been tempted to feel like I “don’t have time” to read. I think it’s honestly more of a state of mind, though. When I’m overworked and overstressed, I tend to feel too fried to even read (which is unusual for me!). Hopefully I won’t be feeling like this for long!

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