The Gift of Reading Time

When I flew across country last week, I joined the others on the plane and strapped into my seat, settling back for a long flight.  It’s always interesting to see how other people spend those five hours.  Cut off from email and the Internet or their telephone, the time to travel amounts to the same gift of time.  Some people sleep while others strike up a conversation with someone nearby. Others pull out a laptop and work on some project while others use their laptop to play a game or watch a DVD.  Another group of people purchase earphones and catch the airline film. There are a variety of choices how to spend the time.

Some of the people on the plane take out a book and read a few pages, then stop.  Usually I begin reading a book before I take the trip. From my years in publishing, I understand that all books are not equal. I want to make sure I’ve got a page-turner when I’ve got an extended period for reading.

Within a few pages, I was lost in the story and characters of my book. It’s an almost magical experience for me to have a lengthy time for reading.  I quickly turned the pages and the hours of travel seemed to happen in the blink of an eye.  There is a lot of things which demand our attention and a recent report shows with the increased use of the Internet, people are spending less time reading magazines, newspapers and listening to the radio.  As the article, Time-wise, Internet is now TV’s Equal by Heidi Dawley, says, “Researchers also asked those surveyed which media they were using less as a result of the increased time on the interned. Books were the big loser, with some 37 percent saying that they spend less time reading books.”

What does such a survey mean for those who love books, dream of writing books and continue to work in book publishing? It means books have to continue to be better in quality.  The reader is less patient with the opening of a novel or the beginning of a nonfiction book.  As the editor watches out for the reader, it means your query has to instantly draw my attention. The drawing sentence can’t be the third one or in the second paragraph. Your book proposal has to instantly capture my attention and move my interest. As writers, we need to continue to grow in our ability to write excellent prose.

And when you find that gift of extended reading time? I’d encourage you to curl up with a book and plunge into the pages.

4 Responses to “The Gift of Reading Time”

  1. Sam Pakan Says:

    It’s amazing, as an avid reader, how little time I have for it, and I know I’m not alone. I have shelves of books I’ve saved for a second read, but an even longer list that I haven’t enjoyed even the first time. Sometimes I long for my grad school days when it was my “job” to spend hours absorbed in great fiction.

    Last week I finally started reading Peace Like a River. Phenomenal work. Less than a third of my way into it, I’m finding excuses to get away with the book and make notes to myself in the margins–research to do on my second read. Whether I get around to that second read is yet to be determined, but I will say the book certainly deserves it.

    Do you need someone to carry a briefcase on your next five hour flight?

  2. Macromoments Says:

    Terry, it’s easy to forget how precious reading time is until you step away from it for awhile. We’re such a connected society now (sometimes to a fault). One of the reasons I love camping is because it pulls me away from the computer, television, doorbell, and the land line for a few days.

    Just curious, which page-turner were you reading on your trip?

  3. Terry Whalin Says:


    As you know from reading book reviews and books, what constitutes a page-turner for me may or may not become one for you. I read a couple of different books on the trip last week but one in particular was from a first-time author at NavPress, Austin Boyd. His novel called The Evidence will release soon. It kept my attention for hours–always a good sign to me.

    The Writing Life

  4. Austin Boyd Says:


    I’m honored by your comments about my first novel. It’s been a fun and rewarding experience to enter the publishing world through NavPress. I drew upon some of your proposal recommendations in my development of a publisher submission package and can attest to the wisdom of you words. Thanks again for reading The Evidence. The Proof is hot on its heels (Sep ’06).

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