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The Sunday Salon: Summer Reading and Reading Rituals

by Kim on June 6, 2010 · 38 comments

The Sunday Salon.com Over the last few weeks I got to work on a freelance story for our local newspaper about summer reading trends and approaches. I interviewed local librarians and other readers to try and write about why people choose the books they choose in the summer, and about the idea of taking on summer reading projects versus “beach reads.”

I’d love it if you went over and read the article and let me know what you think. There’s also a sidebar of suggested summer reads in a variety of categories that I think turned out well too. And there’s a story on e-readers (by another editor), that I think is good too.

The best part was that it gave me an excuse to interview Citizen Reader, a Madison-area non-fiction blogger that I’ve read and admired for a long time. We had this great 45-minute phone conversation just chatting about books and why nonfiction is awesome, and then a few e-mails back and forth with book recommendations and other notes. It was so much fun.

The beautiful illustration that ran with my story, by 77 Square Multimedia Designer Brandon Raygo.

The beautiful illustration that ran with my story, by 77 Square Multimedia Designer Brandon Raygo.

One of the librarians I spoke with, Liz Amundson, told me that she gets up at 5:50 every morning so that she has 1/2 hour to read before her 4-year-old wakes up. That really struck me because I’ve been having such a hard time finding the time to read since I started my job, and that’s such dedication to making time. I just haven’t adjusted my routine yet, and it’s annoying me.

I read an article about a month ago about developing a morning ritual — getting up a little earlier with a specific routine for the morning that helps get the day started productively and gives you a reason to be excited about getting out of bed. It suggests five steps for creating a morning ritual:

  1. Draft a short list of the things you do each morning and what you’d like to add.
  2. Figure out how much time it’ll realistically take to do everything on your list.
  3. Adjust your wake time to accommodate your new ritual.
  4. Go through your list each morning for at least 2 mornings before making adjustments.
  5. Once your adjustments are made, enjoy!

I really like the idea of a morning ritual. Right now I get up and spend like 30 minutes putzing around online, which doesn’t help me relax and feel energized about my day, it mostly makes me tired. I want to adjust my routine, take that time in the morning to settle in with a book and a cup of tea, and just relax… or something. I think that sounds divine, I just need to make it happen.

What are you plans for summer reading? Are you a beach reads, project reads, or other types of reads kind of person? Do you have any specific morning rituals? Where do you find your time to read in a busy schedule?

{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Trisha June 6, 2010 at 11:00 am

I am so not a morning person. I get up with exactly enough time to get ready and leave for work. It’s bad I know, but I don’t even have time for breakfast. I go from bedroom to bathroom to out the door. I do admire those who can have morning rituals though. I’m sure it’s healthier.

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Kim June 6, 2010 at 8:38 pm

Trisha: I’m not sure if it’s healthier or not, but I think a morning ritual would work for people who, like me, are morning people. I function way better right away in the morning than I do at any other time. As a student, I often ended up going to bed early and then getting up really early to study since I’m just a lot better then.

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Wendy June 6, 2010 at 11:11 am

Great article on summer reading, Kim! I don’t think too much about particular books for particular seasons…although I find myself reading more chick lit and mysteries in the summer for some reason (maybe the heat makes it harder for me to concentrate on more serious books).

Re: morning rituals…I have to first take care of all the animals who badger me until I feed them and let them out for their morning business. Then I get on line and check email. Then I tend to write any reviews I have waiting. That usually eats up what free time I have before I have to go to work! I like the idea of making a short list of things you want to accomplish in the morning!

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Kim June 6, 2010 at 8:40 pm

Wendy: Thank you! I tend to do summer project reads (at least, I did that once and I’m trying to do it again!). I think summer is more conducive to light reads for a lot of people though.

I like your morning routine. I have to feed and take care of Hannah in the morning, which is part of the routine. I usually edit blog posts too — I don’t have time to write them before work. I like the idea of a list, too.

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Andi June 6, 2010 at 11:42 am

In the past I’ve read bigger books during the summer months because I had more time. Such is not the case anymore, but I have begun to tweak my schedule to accommodate my reading. Greyson tends to wake up early, but he also goes back to sleep quickly in those early hours. I usually try to take advantage of his morning cat napping to read. I also use any down time at work to read including lunch time, slow office, and tutoring hours. I get far more reading done at work than home these days, but it doesn’t matter as long as I get my fix.

Excellent article, and I’m looking forward to reading the one on e-readers, too!

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Kim June 6, 2010 at 8:41 pm

Andi: I have been curious how you’re adjusting with Greyson — I’m sure that is a huge, huge change! Kid naps are a good time to read, I’m sure. I should probably take more breaks at work to go read, but we don’t have a break room which makes it weird.

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Savvy Working Gal June 6, 2010 at 12:00 pm

I really enjoyed your article Kim. Like CR I am an avid non-fiction reader. I’m also a nerdy reader who likes to take notes while I read. I read non-fiction year round, but tend to read lighter books or fiction while on vacation. I am not comfortable sitting at an airport with a notebook and a pen, plus there are too many interruptions. I am joining my husband on a fly fishing vacation later this summer as a non-fishing spouse and am already stressing about what books to take. My list currently includes Kate Walber’s. “A Short History of Women” and Norman Maclean’s “A River Runs Through it, but I’ll need at least two more. I’m going to look into CR’s suggestions in your article.

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Kim June 6, 2010 at 8:42 pm

Savvy Working Girl: Thanks! Nonfiction can be hard to focus on with lots of distractions. I think narrative nonfiction works well for those times, since it’s usually based on story and there’s some sort of plot driving things forward. Your reading list sounds good so far!

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Susannah June 6, 2010 at 1:06 pm

I just joined BookMooch a few weeks ago, so I like having recs of (mostly) older books that I can trade. I’m catching up on those “always meant to reads,” whether on a road trip or in the extra hours of evening light.

About finding time to read: I’ve mentioned my guilty little secret before, and I still like to wake up in the morning by reading a few chapters in the bathroom. It’s so nice and quiet! Not too bright, not TOO comfortable (so I settle in and lose all track of time). So far it’s the only way I’ve been able to work through “Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.”

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Kim June 6, 2010 at 8:43 pm

Susannah: I’m avoiding BookMooch, mostly because I have way to many books to read already! I think you have mentioned bathroom reading before — I sort of like that idea!

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Esme June 6, 2010 at 1:23 pm

What a great article-for me my reading time is in the eve-especially before bed. Before I was self employed I would take off to the book store near my office and read at lunch. I will confess to taking a book with me to mass once-boy did that get me in trouble.

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Kim June 6, 2010 at 8:44 pm

Esme: Thank you! I used to read a lot before I went to bed, but that hasn’t been working as well for me lately. And lol to books in church — no doubt that didn’t go over well :)

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Nicole June 6, 2010 at 1:33 pm

I would like to get myself started on a morning ritual as well. Currently I do what you do, and while I am always itching to catch up, I don’t think it starts me off on the right foot. I have to discipline myself to start off another way.

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Kim June 6, 2010 at 8:45 pm

Nicole: That’s exactly it — I like catching up on things, but I think it doesn’t let me have time to just wake up and start my day of feeling refreshed. I’m going to try to start more serenely this week — a book and tea, perhaps, instead of online.

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Jenny June 6, 2010 at 3:30 pm

I love having a morning ritual. Every morning I get online and check my email and Facebook to make sure there have been no catastrophes in the night (yes, I am a high-anxiety person), while eating my cereal. Then I make coffee and read books or write while drinking the coffee. It’s a lovely, refreshing way to start the day.

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Kim June 6, 2010 at 8:46 pm

Jenny: I always check Facebook in the morning too. So addicting! I’m glad you get other things too — eating and coffee and reading sounds so nice!

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charley June 6, 2010 at 4:13 pm

Nice article! I don’t have any summer reading plans. I don’t make any conscious seasonal changes in my reading habits. I just read whatever I feel like reading. As for morning rituals, I feed the cats, clean the litterbox, open the curtains, and water the plants. I don’t make time for reading in the morning, but I do like to end each day in bed with a mug of chamomile tea and a book.

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Kim June 6, 2010 at 8:46 pm

charley: I think people who read a lot tend to be less likely to make big summer reading plans, since it’s already part of the routine. But for people who don’t read a lot, summer is this sort of mythical time when they read more or something.

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Maphead June 6, 2010 at 5:40 pm

As for my Monday through Friday morning ritual, I usually make a big ole commuter mug of french press coffee and hop on the bus. Since I usually arrive in front of my workplace at least an hour before work starts I simply head across the street to the state university. I proceed to one of the many study alcoves, grab a comfortable chair and start reading.
On the weekends most mornings I head down to the local coffee shop, start reading and/or blogging and just wait ’till my friends arrive.
When the warm weather arrives with summer, weekend afternoons I sit in the park and read.

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Kim June 6, 2010 at 8:47 pm

Maphead: That sounds like a great morning routine – I like it! An hour of reading before starting the day would be awesome :)

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Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy) June 6, 2010 at 6:54 pm

Great article, Kim! Nice job. I don’t have a morning ritual, per se. Before starting my new job a month ago, I needed to be out the door by 6:30 a.m. Now that I work primarily from home, I’m finding that it really is nice to be able to sit with the paper and coffee for a few minutes after everyone else has left the house. Lunchtime is when I do most of my reading; because my lunches are eaten alone, I’m finding that a book is the best company!

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Kim June 6, 2010 at 8:48 pm

Melissa: One of the things I miss about being a student is the time in the morning to just chill before I had to get to work on homework or get to campus. I suppose I can make that same time now, it just has to be a lot earlier!

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Citizen Reader June 6, 2010 at 8:37 pm

Hey, Kim, the article looks great! Thanks again for including me–I had a great time chatting with you too. We nonfiction readers have to stick together, after all. :)

God, 5:50 in the morning. Now THAT is dedication. I don’t make special time like that for reading, I tend to just read throughout the day as I neglect other tasks, like working, cleaning, running errands, or anything else that smacks of being a responsible adult.

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Kim June 6, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Citizen Reader: Thanks! I always worry about how articles are going to turn out, or if I made some mistake in them that I missed before it went to print :) Hopefully there were’t any.

And yes, that is dedication. Although I have to get up about 6:30 or 7 to get ready for work, so it’s not that much earlier. And reading instead of doing work, I totally understand that! I have a pile of dishes that need to get done, but I’ve been immersed in books all day.

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Sheila (Bookjourney) June 6, 2010 at 10:57 pm

I dont have a summer reading plan. I tried that last summer and didnt stick to the plan. As fas as reading trends, in the monring I have books downloaded on my IPOd and I have it playing in the bathroomm while I get ready in the mornings. I can get is a good 45 minutes of a book in that way each morning.

I also have audio playing in my car so on my way to work or wherever I can be listening to a book. Of course there is always a book in the car and/or in my purse for waiting at appointments, trains, etc…

I manage to squeeze in reading almost everywhere.

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Kim June 8, 2010 at 5:56 pm

Sheila: Listening in the morning is a good idea — I never thought of that. I tend to get easily distracted though, so I’m not sure if it would work for me or not. I’ve got audiobooks in my car though, I love that.

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Iris June 7, 2010 at 2:50 am

I’m no morning person, but I really like the idea of having a morning ritual. I must look into that!

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Kim June 8, 2010 at 5:57 pm

Iris: I’ve been doing it for a couple days now, and so far so good. reading in the morning is a lot more relaxing that wasting time in front of my computer.

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Valerie June 7, 2010 at 8:07 am

Now that my kids have been on summer vacation for the last few weeks (yes, they get out early here), I’m still trying to re-adjust my routine. Funny thing is that I got up early this morning (6:15am) and thinking how nice it is to have quiet time until they start waking up (probably any minute now). Not sure if I can pull it off (the 6AM wake-up time) all summer long, though!

As for whether my reading habits change. We go to the pool a lot during the summer, so that affects what I read there. I just finished reading “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”; most of it pool-side. It may sound odd to say that it was a perfect read for the pool, but it was. I’m going to need to look through my TBR pile for the next pool read!

Books I read at home seem to be about the same type during the summer as it is for the rest of the year, I think.

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Kim June 8, 2010 at 5:58 pm

Valerie: I love quiet time in the morning, although I live alone so I guess it’s quiet time all the time.

I read The Immortal Life of HeLa, and I think it’d be a great pool-side read because there’s so much going on and such a great plot driving it forward.

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Alita June 7, 2010 at 5:40 pm

I envy people who are able to stick to develop and stick to that kind of morning ritual. No matter what I try, my ritual consists of staying in bed as long as possible and then running around like a crazy person until I at last leave for work. My breakfast/email/news time starts after I get to work.

I don’t usually change the type of books I read during the summer, I just continue reading whatever is in my TBR pile. However, as I’ll be traveling most of this summer with limited luggage space, I’m going to try to specifically pick books to bring that will quickly hold my attention. Now, how I pick those books is another matter!

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Kim June 8, 2010 at 5:59 pm

Alita: It’d be harder if I wasn’t a morning person, but I do really function best right away. By dinner time or after I’m tired and just want to watch tv or be lazy.

Guessing which books will be grabbing is tough — good luck!

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softdrink June 7, 2010 at 8:09 pm

Great article!

During the work week I walk a mile on the treadmill first thing. It gets me going, and gives me a little reading time. Since I start work at 7, a mile is all I can squeeze in, unless I jump out of bed right at 5 when the alarm goes off. And that rarely happens!

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Kim June 8, 2010 at 6:00 pm

softdrink: That’s such a good idea! I love reading and exercising at the same time. I don’t have a treadmill though, I have to go to the gym for the elliptical or something, so going in the morning is hard for me.

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Michelle June 12, 2010 at 6:57 pm

I love the idea of a morning ritual. I think I could do it if I went to bed earlier. My alarm goes off at 5:45 AM, and I typically do not turn on the light until after 11 PM. It is not conducive to getting up even earlier, but I often lament the fact that not only am I exhausted, my mornings are harried and just awful. It sets the tone for the rest of the day. Maybe this week is the time to finally set this in motion…

Thanks for sharing!

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Kim June 12, 2010 at 8:38 pm

Michelle: I’ve been trying really hard to be in bed by 10, so hopefully the lights are off by 11 and I can get up. After a week the morning ritual has been going pretty well — I got to do it 3 days of the week and did feel good every morning I could make it happen.

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Michelle June 12, 2010 at 8:49 pm

I need to get better at that. I’ve been so desperate trying to catch up on blogging and paperwork and everything else. I think it is time for me to man-up and just do this. My current ritual is not working.

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Kim June 15, 2010 at 9:08 pm

Michelle: I used to spend the morning catching up on blogs, comments, whatever, and I just felt rushed and behind. Most of the stuff I was doing wasn’t anything that I can’t find time to do later or that can wait. But at least with reading in the morning even if the rest of my day gets crazy, I feel like I got that extra time and am more relaxed. I hope you get the chance to try it out and see if it works for you!

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