The Magic Of Reading Books

Some say there is a magic to reading books. Maybe you know what it’s like to have a real page-turner in your hands. Like eating a bag of chips, you can’t put the book down – just one more page, one more chapter! I enjoy such books, but that hasn’t always been the case.

When I was a kid, I didn’t like reading, fiction or otherwise. Growing up in school, I only read when and what I was assigned, which was usually just a textbook. Regardless of the subject, it was about as magical as reading a car repair manual. Books seemed laboriously long and monotonous. Page after page of black text on beige paper: words, words, words. Reading was like getting my teeth cleaned at the dentist: beneficial yet unpleasant.

Unlike those who did find pleasure in books, I had never identified as a ‘reader’. So I sometimes felt a degree of low self-esteem or shame, thinking I didn’t measure up, as if something was deficient with my intellect. Why didn’t my brain like to “book it”? When it came to reading, I had the skill but not the will.

But all that started to change a few years ago. Along the way in life, I began to get little tastes of reading.

The first thing I’d say started to turn me on to reading was the influence of a voracious consumer of books in my life who absolutely couldn’t get enough of them. He had a high view of reading that was remarkable and kind of infectious. To him, the Gutenberg press was a gift from heaven to mankind (and I’d agree). His impact on me to see the value in books was as if a neon Vegas sign constanly flashed in my face, “Read!” So the seed was planted, yet there were more tastes needed to whet my appetite for books.

About that same time period was the advent of eBooks, which had special appeal to me because I had always been sort of a tech-nerd. So I ended up getting a novel to read on my iPod touch (before it had a “retina” screen).

There was an attractive simplicity to a full-length book I could easily hold in the palm of my hand. It eliminated the bulk and daunting thickness of hundreds of pages. I only had to read one little page at a time. And one small swipe of my thumb “turned” the page.

woman reading a book
Photo by Pixabay on

So to some degree, digital reading helped me get into books just like digital photography helped many get into photos. Yet eReading on such a tiny device was still too much of a novelty to me. I was surprised that I read a whole work of fiction just for fun. But like sneezed out vapor, inspiration to read quickly wore off.

It took the influence, rather the silent witness, of another avid reader, my wife, to really push me towards the appeal of reading. When she got a book, I would see her constantly staring at it, quietly flipping one page after another. She must have been engrossed in a captivating story. And the next thing I knew, she had finished the book fast! I’d be impressed and wonder how good the book must really be. Curiosity peaked my interest in reading as a cat turns an intense wide-eyed gaze towards a nearby scratching sound.

Then something unusual happened. My wife, who is decidedly not a tech-nerd, got an electronic gadget that I did not own: the Amazon kindle. And that dedicated eReader using eInk was the catalyst to push me over the edge.

Thanks to that device, with its just-right-size eInk screen and battery that lasted forever on a single charge, I could easily hold any sized book in one hand and read it for long stretches without straining my eyes. Plus it had a built-in library/bookstore! So I borrowed my wife’s kindle and had a good trilogy to test it out: The Hunger Games. After that, I soon bought my own kindle, and over the next few years I grew as a reader.

That’s how I went from, “I’ll just watch the movie” to, “I’d rather read the book!” My disdain for books turned to delight. So it was well into adulthood when I finally started to experience the pleasure of reading!

These days, I like to walk into my local Books-a-Million and wonder what my next good read might be while I wander up and down the aisles in a sea of books. Surely I can find that proverbial one I’d take if stranded on a desert island. Even the scent of books is attractive. I enjoy the website called goodreads. And to top it off, I actually have my own public library card.

Reading engages my mind in a way that movies never did. I know firsthand there’s something compelling about a good story written well. Don’t get me wrong, I still love to watch movies and don’t claim to be a bookworm. But I went from not reading at all to actually having an annual reading goal! I’m just glad that I finally discovered the magic of reading!

As a kid, I learned to read. As an adult, I learned to enjoy reading.

I’ll leave you with this quote I like from Stephen King,

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”

So what’s your reading experience been like?

Take Time To Make Time

I was going about my normal day recently when a familiar phrase came into my mind, “So little time…” I took a break from my work at home and had been thinking about how much there was left to do. Then I quickly starting noting other projects that I needed to start—there’s so much! I was lamenting how little time there is to do ‘all the things.’

We’ve all been there. That’s why there is the saying, “So little time, so much to do.”

Back In Time

I began to wish for more time and wondered how I might be able to get it. As I thought, one of my favorite quotes from The Matrix Reloaded came to mind. It was during the Merovingian’s diatribe when he said, “…but then if we never take time how can we ever have time?” Such a simple concept!

Time was spoken of as a material resource you could put in your pocket or store up in the bank. How nice it would be if time were so tangible because maybe then we would use it more sparingly. But when you really think about it, we can budget our time more wisely just like we budget our money. We can be frugal with our time.

Just because time is not a tangible thing, it doesn’t mean we will have trouble budgeting it. We already know how to budget the immaterial. Case in point: money today has become digital currency and many of our transactions happen online in our ever-increasing cashless society. Money is increasingly intangible like time; they’re just numbers.

After my memory of The Matrix quote, my mind went further back in time to none other than a little monologue by hero Marty McFly! In Back To The Future he said, “If only I had more time…wait a minute, I have all the time I want, I’ve got a time machine..!

black and white photo of clocks
Photo by Andrey Grushnikov on

If only we had more time. If only we had a time machine! Well we can’t travel through time–other than straight forward from present to future at the speed of about one second per second. And we can’t create a machine that somehow creates more time for us like it’s a tangible object. So what can we do? Go back to The Matrix.

Take Time To Make Time

We have so many things that take up our time. We must take our time back from those things by taking those things out of our lives. Go minimalist!

If you want to have time to do ‘all the things’, you must redefine what ‘all the things’ refers to. Do we really need to do everything that we think we do? This is nothing other than classic time management. We’ve got to practice prioritizing our time for only the most important things; do only the best things.

The best to-do is to do the best.

To have more time, minimize or remove from your life all the things that are just a time-suck. But you must recognize what’s wasting your time. I categorize daily life into three broad areas that we need time for: sleep, work, and play.

It would be nice and simple if we could just give 8 hours evenly to each time category; life is not that easy. Often, we find ourselves wasting a lot of time playing instead of working. It’s easy to get distracted when looking up one thing on the web and then a half-hour later…look at the time! Entertainment and social media: big time-sucks.

De-Clutter Your Calendar

In your own life, take some time to budget your time! Come to think of it, a line-item at the top of your Time Budget Worksheet should be, “Budget Time.” It would be helpful to write it out in front of you to see your time more concretely.

You could do this simply by calendaring. Just don’t book your schedule too tightly. Make “appointments” in each day for “white space” or time cushions. We need both downtime as well as uptime. Again: sleep, work, and play. It’s okay to schedule a blank space or a block of time for nothing on your calendar!

We need to reverse the saying. If there’s so little time because there’s so much to do, then there will be so much time if there’s so little to do.

This touches on the idea of multi-tasking. Usually that means you’re doing many things at the same time, which is inaccurate. What I mean by multi-tasking is simply having too many to-do’s on a regular basis–literally multiple tasks.

We work in a linear fashion, going from one thing to the next in a chain, just like the cause and effect chain of time. The more tasks you have, the less time you have for each task; it’s simple math.

We are talking about quality over quantity. When you have less time to dedicate to a given task, either it cannot be completed or it will be a mediocre thing, one that is not really worth your time! If that’s true, then why bother with it in the first place? Drop it from your schedule. Clear time for more important things. The fewer to-do’s you have, the more time, and thus quality, you will get for each one.

Time To Unwind

These thoughts on time are just some simple ideas. It helps me to take a minute to step back and survey the big picture. Like you, it’s easy for me to get so caught up, buried in my tasks, that I lose track of time and feel I have so little of it. But we all have the same amount of time: 24 hours a day. We all just need to use it more wisely.

Thanks for taking the time to read this! What are some ways you have found to manage your time better? Leave a comment or message me on Twitter!