Lyndon is determined to find time to read, to tackle his reading pile and seek inspiration from you – his reading colleagues. How do you find time to read?
Some people don’t believe in goals, or resolutions, or To Do lists, or any number of organisational systems of day-to-day ambition. And that’s okay, of course, but it’s actually one of my favourite parts of each year to sit down on New Year’s Eve and discuss what I have planned for the months ahead. In the final hours of 2018, one answer was obvious: a return to reading. I had recently joined author John Green’s “Life’s Library” book club, and one member spoke in the online forums about committing to reading a book a week in the previous year, an aspiration he narrowly managed to achieve. I was inspired. As a newly minted teacher, I often tell my students—particularly those wanting to achieve in the realm of creative writing—that it is essential that they read, both for study and pleasure. Yet we, as their teachers, regularly bemoan the “lack of time” to read in our own lives, and build small piles like log stacks beside our beds, promising ourselves that Summer will see us conquer them, yet usually failing to do anything more than add height to this increasingly domineering health and safety hazard. It’s often a matter of do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do, and it has started to bother me.
The time, I realise, must be there—or at least it is for me. My paper lists of all that I read and watch on television are steadily growing, but the “watch” list (which includes full series and films) is progressing at a much faster rate than my reading one. Fiction and non-fiction are a delight when we can carve out a corner of the world and fall into them with full attention, but they are not typically the “bite-size” chunks that we find so easy and engrossing in newspapers, the internet, and on social media. I suspect that part of the challenge is sustaining focus. Marie Kondo, the author of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying, and the star of the new Netflix sensation Tidying Up caused a small riot on the internet when she suggested that the average person should have approximately thirty books on their bookshelf. Of course, the furor was misguided—Kondo’s fundamental principle is to keep only objects that “spark joy” when you hold them, and that could be any number of books. Perhaps more interestingly, I think we can apply this principle to our time as well—I found myself considering the fact that reading definitely sparks joy for me, while other pursuits (such as mindlessly browsing the internet) could provide the space in my schedule for the quiet imaginative reflection I crave.
Happy New Year, and happy reading.
Lyndon Riggall is a writer and new English teacher who has just begun his first year in the classroom at Launceston College. You can find him at and on Twitter @lyndonriggall.