In his 2000 craft book On Writing, Stephen King says,
Books are a uniquely portable magic. I usually listen to one in the car, and carry another wherever I go. You just never know when you’ll want an escape hatch.
How many of you bring a book with you wherever you go?
I always have a book on me. I keep two or three in the back of my car just in case. I can’t imagine having to wait somewhere without a book to keep me company.
I know the phone has kind of taken that necessary place of the book because there is so much to read on your phone. If you suddenly find yourself having to wait 10 minutes at the car wash, or 30 minutes at the doctor’s office, in a pinch, you can just take out your phone, scroll through your Facebook and Twitter feeds. Hell, you can even download the Kindle app to your phone and read a book on there. I won’t lie — I certainly have been in a few places where I forgot a book, and I ended up reading a short story or a chapter of something on my Kindle app.
But for the most part, I think taking a real physical book with you is still the way to go, in 2018. I love bringing my physical Stephen King books to the gym when I work out (I wrote about that here), and I love surprising myself when I pull up to the dentist or doctor or car wash or whatever, recognizing I have a long wait in store, and then remembering I have a couple of books stashed in the back of my car for such an occasion.
I’ve been working at home all summer. I’ve been writing up a storm, but I also have some downtime. And I STILL struggle to find time to read for pleasure. For those of you with day jobs, where you’re at work for 8+ hours, it’s likely to be even harder to find 20 minutes of the day to just sit and read. I try to read at night before bed, but as I get older, often I can only make it 5–10 minutes before I start to drifting off to sleep and I’m forced to put the book down.
That’s why bringing a book with you to your daily errands is so important. At least once or twice a week you will find yourself at a place away from home with some downtime, with nothing to do but stare at your stupid phone, and I implore you to put the phone away during these times and pull out a physical book. That book will make you escape in so many better ways than the phone ever will, and it will allow you to strengthen your brain as you wait, not weaken it.
So pick two books from your shelf. Put them somewhere in your car.
And when you find yourself with a 20+ minute waiting period, wherever you may be, grab one of those books.
And enjoy the magic!