Essay/Book Life/Reading

Read in the Morning

Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash

I read this article about reading in the morning and it sparked a memory for me from middle school. For almost all of 8th grade, my dad drove me to school each morning. I wasn’t a particular fan of my classmates on the bus that year, and my mom liked that it got my dad out the door a little earlier for work. But I still usually waited a good 10 minutes from when I was ready to go to when my dad was ready to go. I sat in our living room that had two full bookcases while I waited. I was a voracious reader at that age, and since my backpack was zipped and ready, I chose a book of my mother’s from the shelves — Sunday Nights at Seven: The Jack Benny Story, by Jack Benny and his daughter Joan.

My family listened to A LOT of “old-time radio” growing up, and Jack Benny was a particular favorite. We also watched a lot of Mystery Science Theater 3000, so my sense of humor was somewhat advanced and old-fashioned for a tween. It wasn’t until college that more of my peers found me funny because of my references.

Anyway, I ended up reading this Jack Benny autobiography over the course of a few months, just from reading a few paragraphs every morning while waiting for my dad to take me to school. I got a simple joy from that. Normally I read books very fast at that age, whipping through heavy tomes of the esteemed classics in a week or less. It was novel to me that this book took so much longer and was read in a different manner.

Recently I did something similar with my reading habits. Last year I joined the Shakespeare Project 2020 on Facebook, with the goal to read all of the Bard’s works in 2020. Did I complete the challenge? I did not. I ended up participating for half the year before life got too crazy. However, I did develop a habit of waking up just a little earlier, getting my morning beverage, and reading an act of the current Shakespeare play every morning before beginning my day. I looked forward to my little ritual.

I downloaded the Shakespeare app with all the plays and a glossary integrated into it to explain the more antiquated terms. I didn’t have to jostle myself too much out of my reading to learn the context of a word or phrase, and I could keep going.

I’ve shifted my morning reading to articles from magazines that I save but don’t always get to. Or getting another few pages (or just paragraphs) done in whatever book I’m currently reading. Or keeping one book just for the mornings so I have something to get up and look forward to.

People have varying opinions about reading off your smartphone, but for me, I’m a HUGE fan. It did take me a while to appreciate the convenience of having your latest book (or books) at the ready for whenever you have a few spare minutes, but I read so many books this way now. I’ve moved the apps on my phone so that when I unlock it I don’t see social media first. I see my reading apps first. My social media apps are hidden in a folder so instead of mindlessly scrolling through Facebook and getting irritated with it (something that happens so much these days) I can instead open my Kindle app and get a few pages read of whatever book I’m reading and feel a little more productive.

Give yourself the pleasure of a few minutes in the morning for reading. Every little bit will help you tackle your reading goals, no matter how big they are.

Amanda Mae is a librarian who has lived in too many states and enjoys anything involving books and American history.

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