When my friend Anne reached out to me about doing a series on reading this summer – my answer was immediate: of course! I’ve been an avid reader since elementary school. But I never realized what a blessing it was to be able to find the time to read as much as I did. Now, as a busy homemaker and mom to (almost) 4 little boys, I long for those days when I could sit and read for hours without interruption.
But I know that right now, God has called me to a unique season of my life with not a lot of “free” time and I’m so thankful for this season and what that brings with it. My life and time is largely consumed with managing my home and caring for my 5 boys. I wouldn’t have it any other way – but reading still holds a very special place in my heart.
Why spend time reading?
Why is reading to special to me? Why should I try and arrange my schedule to include reading time? Because reading fills up my soul, encourages me in my walk with the Lord, and helps me to learn practical, hands on skills that help to make me a better homemaker.
I’ve had times in the last few years that I’ve read very little to not at all and other times when I’ve been able to fit more reading into my schedule. I’ve found that those periods of time when I’m actively reading, I’ve been a happier and healthier mama.
Reading fiction allows me to escape to another world, another time, relax, and to even broaden my horizons of the world. Reading Christian classics, biogaphies, and modern Christian books deepens and strengthens my walk with the Lord. It daily convicts me of my own sin and motivates me to Glorify God in my everyday life with my thoughts, actions, and prayer life. Reading practical how-to books on organizing, healthy living, home remedies, cooking, and more helps me to better manage my home so that we can focus on Christ within our home and focus on the things that really matter.
[Tweet “In short, reading is vital to my well being as a homemaker and my life as a Christian. “]
And so, that’s why I make time for reading and make it a priority – without feeling guilty about it. It’s not simply an indulgence (unless I spent all of my time reading fiction and nothing else). It’s actually a critical element of my homemaking.
Making Time for Reading
Now this doesn’t mean I spend hours everyday reading. It’s really really tough to find reading time with babies and toddlers. Some days (okay many days), I find 5 minutes to read in between cooking, cleaning, taking care of babies and toddlers, and sending time with my husband. And that’s fine – it’s the season of life I’m in. But even 5 minutes, spread out from day to day, helps me to make progress through books and keeps it on my schedule.
In the Morning
I am often in a couple different books at once and read them at different times. In the morning, after I do my Bible reading, I shoot for reading one chapter of my current devotional book. Right now, I’m wrapping up Women Living Well and will soon move on to my next book. Some days I actually get to read more than a chapter and other days, it’s just a page or two before my babes are up and need me.
Over the past year, this reading time in the morning has become my #1 priority because it’s the time I read my Bible also and that needs to be a daily habit. No matter what season of life I’m in (even if, during this season, it’s shorter than during other seasons). I still have days that I miss, but I’m working hard to eliminate those missed days.
Throughout the Day
I also try to find little snippets of time during the day. One thing I have found helpful, when I’m trying to work through a book (such as my pregnancy and delivery books right now) is to leave the book in the bathroom. Then, every time I sneak away to use the bathroom (which is about every 30 minutes right now the way these babies jump on my bladder), I read a page or two. That may seem like nothing, but the time and pages add up.
I’ve also been making myself be couch bound for the most part during my toddlers naps right now. Ideally this is perfect time to catch up on some cleaning, take a shower, do some blog work, etc. But I have to really force myself to take it easy so I don’t go into early labor with the twins. So instead of turning on the TV, I’ll read a chapter or two of my book before I pass out and take a nap.
All my life, I have been a night owl. In college, I did my best work in the evening and late at night. I could be way more productive after noon than I could be before noon. But now with kids, I am mentally and physically exhausted by the time I get my kiddos down to bed. So I usually avoid non-fiction reading during this time and instead my husband and I like to curl up in bed and read fiction books together. If I’m in a good, captivating fiction book, my eye lids can be closing on their own and I still want to force them up to keep reading. We find it so relaxing to read in bed together!
How to Afford Books
If you are not use to reading very much, than adding books into your budget can really add up! Go to Barnes and Noble and pick out a couple of books to read, and before you know it, you are out $50 or MORE! Because my husband and I are both avid readers and go through dozens and dozens of books a year, here are the best places we’ve found to get books on a budget.
Your Local Library
This may seem like a no-brainer but it’s often a forgotten option in our world today. While I’ve found Christian books I’ve wanted to read at the library – often their selection is not the best and I tend to like to own Christian books so I can highlight them, lend them to friends, read them again, etc.
But we use the library primarily for fiction books and non-fiction informational books. My husband reads a TON of fiction books and finds 90% of his reading from the library (he goes about once a week) so he picks up my books for me as well. I also use the library when I’m doing research and reading non-fiction books such as when I was going research on baby food and baby food recipes, gardening, healthy cooking, etc.
Our library also has an online audiobooks program where you can “barrow” audiobooks and download them to your computer or smart phone to listen to. Ask your local library about this – many of them have similar programs now!
Barnes & Noble
One of our favorite date nights is to browse through Barnes and Noble, grab a coffee, and read in their coffee shop for a while. Maybe that sounds boring to you – but we love it! I’ve found that while you can find many great Christian books, they are a lot more expensive than ordering on Amazon if I’m looking for something specific.
My favorite things to buy at Barnes and Noble are their discount books they have up at the front of the store. They usually have dozens of cookbooks, books on healthy living, fiction, planners, gift sets, and other how-to books for awesome prices!! In fact, I got one of my very favorite freezer cooking books on sale in their bargain clearance section for I think $2.50!
Our favorite place to buy physical books is Amazon! Their prices are always awesome and we get free two day shipping with Amazon Prime! I love that I don’t have to have a minimum amount in my cart in order to qualify for free shipping (plus, 2 day shipping ROCKS)!
I do a ton of ordering online so Amazon Prime is totally worth the yearly fee for us. It saves us so much money in the long run. You can get a FREE 30 day trial of Amazon Prime if you want to give it a try to see if it’s worth it for your family.
I love Kindle books for my fiction reading. Because you can often find the Kindle version of the book for a lot cheaper than the physical book, it makes sense to buy our fiction books mostly on Kindle. I do buy non-fiction and Christian books on Kindle when I find them for an amazing price but I love having the physical copy of the book that I can mark-up, highlight, and lend out to my friends!
Example: Ted Tripp’s popular book Shepherding a Child’s Heart is currently $12.30 to buy the physical book but only $4.99 to buy the Kindle version! (I actually snagged it when it was only $2.99 – you just have to keep an eye out on the sales and prices as they change daily).
You don’t need a Kindle either to read Kindle books. You can download the FREE Kindle app to your smart phone or tablet and enjoy all the benefits of Kindle books! And each week here on my blog, I feature a weekly post on Friday’s called Homemaking on a Budget where I feature all the deals and sales from that week including awesome free and cheap eBooks.
Currently, our favorite way to “read” books is by listening to audiobooks. I’ve found that this preference is highly personal and that you either love listening to audiobooks or you hate it. My husband listens through several fiction books a month on his rather long commute.
For the last two months we started a new tradition of listening to one Christian book “together” throughout the month. Jason listens to a few chapters in the morning on his commute and I listen when I can throughout the day in the little nooks and crannies of life – when I’m making breakfast, folding laundry, cleaning while my boys nap, driving, etc. Last month we listened to Respectable Sins and this month we are in the middle of Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (which I HIGHLY recommend all believer’s listen to)!
Another source of audio books is Christian Audio. We had a subscription with them before Audible, but we found that their selection of books wasn’t as broad. However, it is worth it to sign up for their newsletter because each month, they offer a different audiobook for free! You don’t even have to sign up for a free subscription or anything.
This month’s free book is Being a Dad Who Leads by John MacArthur. We actually already own this book, but my husband hasn’t read it yet. So he’s excited to download it and listen to it on his commute – it’s next up on his list!
Start a Book Swap
If you are really serious about reading books on a budget, then you should consider starting a book swap with some friends. This works really well with non-fiction and Christian books. Get a group of ladies (maybe 4-10) together who want to read similar books and are committed to a specific timeline. You come up with a list of books that you all want to read and then each woman is assigned a book. She goes out and buys it, reads it, and then you all pass along your book to the next lady until you’ve all read all the books. This way you get to read 4-10 different books but only had to purchase one!
This works well for those who don’t like marking up or highlighting their books (ahem…this is not me)!