Musings + Essays

Weekend Vibes, Edition No. 171: Making Time to Read.

By: Jen Shoop

My Latest Snag: New Nightgowns for Mini.

Mini prefers to sleep in nightgowns and I love them, too — not only because they are absolutely precious on a toddler but also because you can extend the life of a nightgown a lot longer than traditional top and bottom styles. Mini is tall and — at just over three years old — typically wears a size 4T, but we still have a couple of 2T nightgowns that fit in the rotation! At any rate, I bought her two new Petite Plumes, a sleepwear brand whose pieces hold up beautifully despite infinite launderings: this floral print and this whale print.

A few other nighties I love right now:




P.S. More children’s sleepwear I love and my favorite bedtime books for children.

P.P.S. Ordering this for myself ($20!!). Wish it also came in a midi length!

You’re Sooooo Popular: THE Mason Pearson Brush.

The most popular items on the blog this past week:

+My beloved Mason Pearson brush (currently 25% off — these never go on sale!)

+Tory Burch rose print shirt dress (on sale).

+Another TB maxi stunner (also on sale, with an extra 25% off with code EXTRA!)

+Our pasta keepers.

+Most stunning Bernadette statement dress, marked way, way down.

+The best bubbles for little ones.

+Toddler snack plates/trays.

+The wonder serum that is sold every 15 seconds (<<currently on very rare sale!). Very intrigued. Who has tried?

+Best foot cream ever.

+Wonder wipes!!!

+Hanky Panky, on serious sale. (These are a pretty good and inexpensive dupe — but I’d say they run on the small side. Size up!)

Weekend Musings: When Do You Read?

I have so many well-read, book-loving Magpies and I’m curious to know — when do you read? How do you make time for it?

The Kindle has totally transformed my approach to reading in the sense that I find it much easier, physically and mentally, to pop in and out of reading. When I have hard copies on hand, I find I will not read unless the circumstances are just so: a comfortable perch where I can rest the book on a pillow or on the bed, a quiet stretch of uninterrupted time. The Kindle has left me far more prone to read in small snippets on the Subway (back when I took the Subway — possibly one of the only aspects of New York I have not missed at all since the start of quarantine), while supervising mini in the bath, or during the odd couple of minutes where both children are happily preoccupied at my feet. Still, if I intend to make serious headway in my tsundoku pile (i.e., more than one book a month, which seems to be my chelonian pace these days), I find I have to put myself to bed around 8:30 p.m. so that I have a full and quiet hour to read before I find myself drifting towards sleep.

What about you? When are you most likely to read? How do you fit it into your life?

P.S. There are many ways to read.

P.P.S. Who is in your personal canon?


+Thank you to the reader who pointed me in the direction of this adorable ($20!) strawberry blockprint tunic!

+Speaking of tunics — how GREAT is this?!

+In a similar vein: this gorgeous airy midi wrap dress (50% off!)

+Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer on sale!

+These sandals are beyond cute, and these (also cute and wear-with-anything!) are 70% off!

+This robe/dress! This suit! How chic are the colors and prints?!

+Also loving this seersucker stripe suit — fantastic color palette.

+Chic rattan folding tray table.

+A $93 Self-Portrait score — perfect for a casual FOJ with white jeans!

+This ric rac trim dress makes me happy.

+Speaking of ric rac, in love with these pillow shams for a little boy’s room.

+Stylish French tufted bench pillows here!

+Super cute non-maternity dress that would work well with a bump.

+Gap has some seriously sweet diaper sets on offer right now — this looks like Liberty London!

+Vegan and gluten-free cookies safe enough for any school celebration — I love that this brand is run by a family!

+With code EXTRA, this stunning tiered dress is under $200!

+Absolutely obsessed with this scalloped sports bra.

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18 thoughts on “Weekend Vibes, Edition No. 171: Making Time to Read.

  1. I absolutely LOVE my kindle too. I was resistant at first as I loved the feel and experience of a physical book, but at one point in my life pre-baby I took several Midwest-West Coast flights and those 5 hour stretches of time in-flight became a wonderful escape, and the kindle made reading much easier for travel. I love the feature in which you can hold your finger down on a word and it will bring up the dictionary definition! (I unfortunately neglected to tell my mom this when I gave her a kindle a couple of years back and she has been using a physical dictionary beside her this entire time… oops.) It has the space-saving advantage too; most of my physical books now are cookbooks (I definitely prefer hard copy for those) and I donated many of my other books to make more room in our petite apartment. I try to sneak in reading in bits and pieces now, usually before bed, but if it’s a really good book I find that I sometimes lack the discipline to put it down to sleep at a reasonable time!

    One thing I thought about was that I really wanted to model a love of reading to my toddler daughter (who thankfully LOVES reading already), and since I usually read on a kindle she thinks it’s entertainment rather than reading because of the tablet format… so when she’s “reading” independently I just leaf through my hard copy cookbooks.

    Amen to what Claire said about sometimes neglecting the house to read instead!

    1. I LOVE that built-in dictionary feature in the Kindle. Use it constantly to make sure I know what a word actually means. I’m with you on the struggle about modeling reading for Emory — I’m sure she assumes I’m looking at the equivalent of my phone! She’s getting to the age where I think she can understand/conceptualize that I am reading a book in digital format (having told her this many times), but it still does bug me.


  2. I wanted to comment on several of the above comments, but it was not giving me the opportunity to do that, so here is my own soliloquy.
    First – audiobooks are a form of reading. As far as it “counting” – try to reframe this thought. For some, this is the ONLY format for someone to be able to read, and it feels ableist to say that an audiobook is not reading.
    Second – like anything in life, if it’s important to you, you will find the way. Be it reading, watching TV, exercise, a new job, dating, etc. etc. etc. I’m on book 37 of 2020 and typically average 70-80 per year. How?!?!? I have 3 children 5 and under. Do I have a nanny and loll about in bed all day? No! I make time to read because it is important to me. I don’t watch much TV. I bring a book wherever I go – instead of mindlessly scrolling my phone, I sneak a few pages in wherever I can. I listen to audiobooks while driving my kids, while meal prepping, cleaning, etc.
    When my kids are playing, I bring a book while I’m supervising them. I love to read – it calms me, it’s an escape, an adventure, a lesson, an education!

    1. Hi Anna – Yes, the format for commenting makes it a little challenging to respond to threads. Irritating! Thanks for sharing your thoughts here, in soliloquy format instead 🙂

      You are so right about reframing my thoughts on audiobooks as reading. Changed my mind there — thank you!

      I’m crazy impressed with the speed at which you read — wow wow wow! Goals. There’s that expression — “time is a tool to express your values” and it’s so true.


  3. I too have to put myself to bed between 8:30-9pm to get some reading in before sleep. Otherwise, my only other tip is audiobooks. I listen while I wash dishes, clean, put on makeup, and even walking with the girls (but I’m that annoying person who plays it on my phone without headphones).

    Like Sofia, I almost always read library books so thank goodness for the Libby and Hoopla apps during quarantine! I just read my first ever ebook last month. Can’t wait to get my hands on a print book, though.

    I looooove toddlers in pjs but may have to give one of those darling little nightgowns a try next!

    1. 100% on audiobooks…do you think listening to an audiobook counts as reading? For some reason I tend to sort the two experiences into separate buckets and now I’m not quite sure why. It’s the same stuff…but I suppose reading is less passive? I don’t know — thoughts?


  4. I don’t have children, but between the other demands of life, I still have to make the time to read which is 1000% worth it because I am a happier person when I read consistently. During normal times (ie, not quarantine!) I read on the train to and from the office each day. I’m not a big TV person but my boyfriend is, so while he watches his shows in the evening, I’ll read, bringing me to about 90 minutes reading time each day. During quarantine, my morning commute disappeared, but have found myself with more evening time which I’ve tried to fill with reading, with mixed results.

    I read from a mix of Kindle and hard copy (both purchased and borrowed from the library). I attend a book club run by my favourite book store and I always purchase the hard copy because the point of a book store run book club is to encourage people to purchase and I feel guilty if I don’t. Otherwise, my rule of thumb is if I think the book will be re-read or I want it on my bookshelves, I buy the hard copy (meaning it’s prize winners, classics and anything my boyfriend will also want to read that passes muster for a hard copy buy). I have also just realised that I equate serious literature with a hard copy book… my Kindle is for lighter reads and travelling. Sometimes I even read on the Kindle while slogging it out on the treadmill or Stairmaster, which I couldn’t do with a paper book. I also have the Kindle app on my phone so I can always squeeze in a few pages in otherwise dead time like while in a cab or uber, standing in line, generally any time spent waiting. I’m fortunate that having grown up in a big family, I can block out distractions fairly easily too.

    But I think the biggest trick to reading more and making time for it is to only read what you enjoy. Give lots of different kinds of books a go, but if after 100 pages you’re not enjoying it, or not sensing it’s worth the time investment, just put it down. It might not be the right time for you to read that particular book and a couple of months or years down the track you might pick it up again and fly through it, but sometimes, it’s just not your book and that’s ok!

    1. Wow – so many interesting points here, especially on your internal metric for deciding whether or not to purchase something in hard copy! Hadn’t thought about reading while exercising or even on my phone while in line! And I definitely agree with you on “only reading what you enjoy.” Life is too short for bad books, though it really pains me to stop reading. If I’m not into something, I stop at 20% through or else I feel like I’m pot-committed and it becomes very difficult for me to let it go.


  5. I’m partial to reading hardcover/paperback books and love nothing more than the smell of a new book or an old favorite worn in by time. That said, I do 100% of my reading via the library, and during COVID I’ve had to read new books entirely by digital means and I’ve come to enjoy it. Though I’ll definitely be going back to the in person version once the libraries reopen.

    Prior to this I only used a kindle/tablet on trips, which allowed me to bring multiple books without extra weight. I think this is the best use case I’ve personally found for digital books.

    As far as finding time to read, I try to bring a book with me wherever I go. Those 20 minutes waiting at the doctor, or 30 minutes on the bus, really add up!

    1. Hi Sofia! Interesting that COVID has enforced more digital reading…hadn’t thought of that! Is there any realm of life this virus has not touched? Crazy!

      I completely agree with you on the appeal of a hard copy book. I also think that reading the physical copy changes the experience of reading in subtle but powerful ways — for example, knowing that I only have a sliver of pages left in my right hand is often enough to compel me to stay up that extra hour to finish and it also shapes my expectations for the plot (i.e., “oh, I only have a little bit left; this must be wrapping up!”)…whereas if I’m reading on the Kindle, the number of pages left feels sort of vague and immaterial. All things being equal, I think I’d rather read in hard copy, but the Kindle has enabled me to read MUCH more during this time where I have smaller windows for reading and lots of little faces vying for my attention.


  6. I really think there’s something to be said for *making* time for it, like exercising! Reading has always been my greatest passion and what makes me happiest, so I’m very protective over the time I set aside time for it. I dedicate the first hour I’m awake to reading in bed (a work-from-home quarantine luxury. In normal times, I get this hour in during my daily commute by city bus). I also take a bath every night I’m home and read for an hour then. Those are my non-negotiables and I’ll squeeze more in when I can. I get through 70ish books a year this way…with the huge caveat that I don’t have children 🙂 I’m enjoying it while I can!

    1. 70ish books — wow! I did the mental math and that breaks down to over a book per week! I’m impressed. One day…

      Like the idea of “making time” for it intentionally, like exercise :). Only it takes a lot less motivation for me to pick up a book than it does go for a jog…!


  7. I love to read, and I find myself reading both from printed books and my iPad (probably 80% print, 20% ebooks). I always try to make time at night for reading, but also love to have my book with me while I eat lunch, and make time on non-work days to read during the day. This is much easier since I don’t have tiny kids! I honestly don’t have any real secrets or “hacks” as to how to gain more reading time, so I’m eager to hear what your other readers have to say!


  8. I take a bath every night before bed (have now convinced myself I can’t sleep without it) and read for at least half an hour. Then I get a little more reading done in bed. Love my Kindle too. Also sometimes I just neglect the house and read during baby’s nap.

    1. Um – a half-hour long bath and reading session sounds DELIGHTFUL. Go you. Love that ritual!


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