Updated: Jan 29, 2019
We all know the struggle. You're looking forward to getting in and reading that book everyone's been raving about, or chilling with your favourite author even though you've already read all her stuff (at least twice). But you get in from a day at work, walk the dogs, get a meal going, realise you need bits from the shop, tidy up, sort out the washing, and if you have kids to deal with on top of that? You'll be lucky if you have an hour to sit down to watch TV before getting ready for bed to do the whole day again. So who exactly has the time to settle in with a blanket, a cup of tea, and a 500 page novel?
So, rather than think of the novel on your bedside table as an insurmountable task, how about some small steps to get you moving towards reading every day?
Get a book of 365 pieces
You're sorted for the year: one short story for every day (if it happens to be a leap year, you can take a day off). James Robert's 365 Short Stories don't only correspond with each calendar day: they also are only 365 words long, so you know you're going to have time to get through each one before bed. It's available in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.
Poetry more your thing? A Poem for Every Night of the Year (edited by Allie Esiri) is worth buying for the hardback cover art alone. The usual classical suspects are included here - William Shakespeare, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Robert Louis Stevenson, W.B. Yeats - along with contemporary favourites like Carol Ann Duffy, Spike Milligan, Benjamin Zephaniah, and Seamus Heaney. Read them at the end of the day as suggested, or as a pick-me-up first thing in the morning. Available on Amazon.
Browse the Web
There are some great sites out there that let you read content for free. If you prefer the feel of a laptop, tablet or smartphone to a physical book, try out some of these:
The two best things about audio books are that you can listen to them when you're moving about (including driving) and when you have your eyes closed. Doing chores, picking up the kids, or simply lying in bed too tired to keep your eyes open all preclude staring at a book and this is where audio books really come into their own. Audible is the most popular app but there are unofficial copies on YouTube (best used when you're connected to the internet). When I had laser eye surgery and had to rest my eyes for three days, I listened to 25 hours of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials.
Find Cool Novelties That Hand Short Stories To You (And Possibly Learn A New Language)
You're in Paris, you're feeling cosmopolitan waiting for le Métro or drinking une tasse de café, and in a city famed for its literature you decide to spend your spare one, three, or five minutes reading a short story that pops out of a machine, completely free. Sound too good to be true? Vending machines in France are distributing short stories for free -- but if your French isn't up to scratch, there's one in a San Francisco café that prints them in English.
It's been a long week (or a long Monday) and you've got the wine in to sit back and relax. Nothing to read? Italian brand Librottiglia has you covered on both fronts: whether you're after red or white, Librottglia has commissioned three authors to match a short story to the wine you're drinking. Where's the story? Peel back the label on the bottle to reveal it! Drinking good wine and reading Italian literature? It's cosy and decadent.
Do you have any more tips for fitting reading into a hectic life? Any tricks of the busy reader that we've missed out on? Let us know on Twitter @StirlingRobyns