Someone asked me this recently, because I get through a lot of books, and I thought I’d take a moment to offer a multifaceted answer:
The most obvious one, that is definitely Not for Everyone, is simple: we just leave books everywhere. To the detriment of a tidy house. Some places my book show up: the coffee table, for starters. In stacks in my tiny home office, including the desk and the floor. Also, I was known to keep a gardening book on the floor outside the bathroom while I waited for the toddler to poop. (She is a methodical person who would not be rushed.)
If we are going on a multi-part trip or any kind of outdoor outing, I bring a read-aloud book to do with the kids. If I expect they’re going to play something extended and kind of boring I don’t have to participate in (wading, or building a stick fort), I bring a book for myself. Maybe you are an encouraging and active participant in these adventures (to which I say way to go!!). But I tell myself I’m fostering independence, keep half an eye on the destructive play, and dive back into snatches of my book.
I listen to a lot of audiobooks through Scribd (paid), Librivox (free) and the library’s app (free). As a result, stories are strewn around the yard, kitchen and basement so that I think of Marilla Cuthbert over by my irises and Wendell Berry by the terrible vine on the back fence.
When I have a nursling or am morning sick (a lot of the last ten years), I read many e-books through the library and Scribd on my phone — not my favorite way to read, but one can spend only so many hours lovingly gazing at the baby’s nursing head and a phone is easier to read in the half-light or while lying limp and queasy in the fetal position.
I take to heart Charlotte Mason’s idea that a well-rounded, truly educated person will have many books of different types and subjects going at once, and work through them gradually, although I think she’d encourage more discipline than I generally exhibit. Because of small children, I can’t binge whole novels the way I did as a teen, but I still find ways to tackle meaty fare gradually and can occasionally squeeze in a book that totally engulfs me. And I don’t worry about abandoning a book, which I do without shame, unless it was loaned or assigned. Life is short, and there’s always something else stacking up on our shelves.
Long time readers of my blog will remember my list of Things I Do Not Do. Remember this list when you look at the number of books I read and consider your own trade-offs — for instance, because I mostly listen to audiobooks during chores, I don’t listen to many podcasts or much music (except in the car on errands). This may or may not be a valuable change for you. What’s more, my floors could be cleaner, but then I couldn’t sprawl on the couch to mark up a book. I could do exercises classes, but then I couldn’t listen to an audiobook while running. And so on, and so forth.
TL;DR? Don’t try this at home. Or do, but be ready for a little untidiness.