May 17, 2023

What's Stopping Me?

Today's Top Ten Tuesday topic is Things Getting In the Way of Reading.

Y'all. I can tell you right now, I'm going to have trouble keeping the list to 10. It seems like squeezing in a few pages of reading is harder and harder.

The things I'm going to list here are all first world, privileged problems, that some people would be glad to have stopping them from having time to read. I am acknowledging my privilege and moving on.


40 hours a week. Plus commuting time, which adds about 4 hours a week. There are only 168 hours in a week and over 25% of that time is spent working. While I am glad I get to work indoors and also with books, sometimes that is a double-edged sword. Working with books means everyday I see more and more books I haven't read. Many people think librarians just sit around and read all day. If only!

Basic Human Needs

By this I mean Food, Shelter, and Clothing (see Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs). Every day I have to eat food. This generally requires some sort of preparation that takes time. More often than not, I am in charge of feeding other people, which means not just consulting my needs, but those of others. All of this coordination and action takes up valuable reading time. Shelter - I have a house to live in, so that part is handled, but I do have to do things to make it livable. Do the dishes that are dirtied by the food situation. Put away the stuff that gets left out when someone isn't sure where it should go. Clothing - I don't make my own clothing, which is best for everyone, but I do have to clean the clothing I wear. If I didn't have to go to work, that would vastly cut down on the amount of clothing I have to do, but we've covered that already.


Basic daily things like brushing teeth and flossing and putting on lotion, don't take up a ton of time. You know what does take up a ton of time? Showering. The 15 minutes I spend in the shower (more if I have to shave) could be spent reading. I don't like being in the shower in the first place, but I definitely hold a grudge when I think about what I could be reading instead.


Maybe this should be up there with basic human needs, but it feels separate to me. Do you know how much more I could read if I didn't need 7-9 hours of sleep a day? On a bad fibro day, it is more like 10-12.  So many books that I can't read because I am unconscious.


These things are just rude. Like, I can't do any of the other things that keep me from reading, but also I can't read. It just hurts too much. It's so unfair. I mean, if I had some other ailment, like diarrhea, I could still read. Titanium knee installed? I read my ass off. Migraines. No.

Social Media

Now we are moving away from uncontrollable forces of the universe and into arguably controllable activities. I do spend more time scrolling through Instagram than I should if I want to read more books. That being said, I did turn off notifications for all my social media apps so if I want to find out what's happening, I have to expressly go to the app. I won't be able to open my phone and see the little red dot by the app letting me know there has been activity. My phone doesn't buzz whenever something happens. I even turned off notifications on my email apps. I am blissfully unaware of anything until I choose to be. Unfortunately, I choose it more often when I am tired and just want to see pretty pictures go by.

Phone Conversations

I don't mean the ones that are scheduled in advance. Those I signed up for. I mean the ones where the phone rings and I look at the screen, see who's calling, and realize that if I answer the phone, that is at least 30 minutes of my life I'm never getting back. The one where the caller says something, then gets distracted by whatever other thing they are doing, and there is an aggravating silence while they regroup. Or the caller is calling to vent about the bizarre things that have happened to them, that are really not that bizarre, but then, you work in a public library, so maybe your viewpoint is skewed. THOSE phone calls are the ones that I detest.


Don't get me wrong. I love dogs. I love MY dogs. But there are times when they make it incredibly difficult to do anything but pay attention to them. My dogs each weigh 75 pounds. When I sit down on the couch, there is one in my lap and one bringing me a toy to throw. I am expected to pet the one on my lap and tell him how beautiful he is, while also throwing the toy for the other. When I try to get out my book and hold it next to the lap dog, he bumps it with his nose to move it away. Oy. The other thing they do to stymie my reading is the barking. It's hard to concentrate when there is a dog 7 feet away barking at a squirrel or a person they hear outside, or a box truck, or a dog down the street.

Health (Mental and Otherwise)

I am not very good at taking care of my body. I don't get it outside often enough. Mostly because it takes away from reading. And yeah, I know, audiobooks, blah blah blah. I am thoroughly uncomfortable plugging my ears when I am outside alone. If I'm walking with someone, it would just be rude, but when I'm alone, I want to hear someone coming up behind me. I want to hear the cars passing, or not. I want to hear the dogs barking at me. I feel safer if I am conscious of what's happening around me. Yes, I live in a safe neighborhood, but every neighborhood is safe until it's not. So sometimes I tear myself away from my precious books and go for a walk for my stupid mental health.


Ok, yes, this is obviously not something I HAVE to do. But being with my dancers has made my life better for almost 20 years. So I feel like it's a worthy reason to give up an evening of reading. Also, I love playing bells. I love being with a group of people, performing together to make music. It's different than being with an orchestra or playing a piano piece. In an orchestra, the melody is held by a certain section of the group. It may change from one section to the next, but really, the focus is on one group and the rest are backup instruments. Playing solo, you are responsible for the melody and the backup. It's all you. In a bell choir, the melody seamlessly (hopefully) from one person to the next and everyone is involved in it. It's a fascinating thing to be a part of.

Being Important

As the president of an international honor society, there are things I have to do. Luckily, most of them are of a delegatory nature, so it doesn't take too much effort. (I'm a librarian. If I say it's a word, it's a word.) But I do have to remember to follow up on all the emails that are flung my way on a daily basis and prepare for running the meetings I am in charge of every month. Thankfully this ends after next month and I am demoted to past-president. Whew!

Those are 10 things that keep me from reading. I'm only sort of complaining. Some of these things are actually enjoyable and good. Some of them are good for me, which rarely means they are good in my eyes, but still.

Do you see what's not on this list? TV, Movies, Sports, Kids (although, the kids do frequently attempt to keep me from reading, I can usually power through). It's not that I don't like those things, I just don't have time. I have a whole list of TV shows I'd like to see, movies I'd like to watch, and sports games I'd like to see. It's just that 1)those things require the use of my TV and I don't know how to work it and 2) I can't watch and read at the same time, therefore it cuts into valuable reading time!

What is keeping you from reading?