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LIBRARY NEWS: Finding the time to read

It's hard to admit that I don't read as many books as I used to read. Granted, comparing my current reading performance with my childhood reading habits isn't quite the fair experiment. As a fourth grader, I read so many books the teachers had to create new prize levels in the annual reading challenge. Most weekend trips to grandpa and grandma's found me packing 30 to 40 books for a two-day visit. Rarely was I without a book.

Work, life and digital distractions conspire to keep me away from books these days. Working in a library, I spend my time trying to connect patrons with books and information. I am unfortunately unable to read on the job. I do have the advantage of close proximity to books. If the desire to read a certain book overcomes me, I am just footsteps from our shelves and several clicks away from the Viking Library System and MNLink online catalogs.

When it comes to finding books to read, I have no excuse. When it comes to finding time to actually read those books, I need to do better.

Now, not being as voracious of a reader as I'd previously been is no great vice. However, for both personal and professional reasons, I do want and need to read more books. Luckily, technology has helped me on this front. CD audiobooks and downloadable audiobooks both let me read books while doing other tasks. CD audiobooks are perfect for long and short car rides. Downloadable audiobooks from the library's Overdrive app serve as the soundtrack to my longer treadmill runs this winter. Audiobooks let me devour more books, and a good reader can enhance the story for me.

While audiobooks help me read more books and stories, I am also working to reclaim the habit of reading words on a page. There is comfort and joy in holding a book or e-reading device and dedicating anywhere from several minutes to several hours to the written word.

Each of us approaches reading in our own way. I've learned that my previous reading plan of having books around and finding free moments to open one doesn't work for me now. I need to be more deliberate in my reading practice.

Distractions abound that can threaten my reading. It is so simple to mindlessly check my smartphone for updates on the various apps that beg for my attention. To control this menace, I am facing it head on. I set aside a specific book, one book at a time, to be the one that I read. I also set aside time to read that book. When reading, I keep my phone far away from me. I find enjoyment in the act of reading. Reading helps me keep my attention from fracturing. It makes me a better person.

The books that I am looking forward to reading next include a Michael Connelly mystery, a thriller by Chris Pavone and the non-fiction book "Atlas Obscura."

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