Reading is what it’s all about, isn’t it? That’s why we writers turn up to the computer, day after day, to grind out the words.
In fact, reading invariably came first. As children we devoured books; at least I did. Now I look back at those days with yearning, because I seemed to have so much time to read. Not a night would go by when I didn’t spend an hour or two in bed before the lights went out, lost in a novel.
Back then, I could sometimes get on a roll and read until 4 or 5 in the morning. There were always the tricky times during the evening to negotiate — the times when I was supposed to have turned out the lamp beside my bed, the times when I would hear my mother making her way towards my door and I would frantically reach over and turn it out so she wouldn’t see. Of course, I was sprung too many times to count, and even more often than I realised, I daresay.
But then would come the time of evening when I heard my parents retiring for the night, and I would finally relax. Because if the book was really good, there was no way I was switching out the light for another few hours yet… I’d look at the time and shrug. I’d tell myself I could easily survive on 6 hours sleep, and then 5, and then finally 4 seemed eminently possible.
Oh wow, those were the days. Sometimes I’d have to push through leaden eyes, but more often than not I was so far from sleep, it seemed impossible anyway.
(She sighs.) These days I have to carve out reading time to get any at all. There seems to be so much to do! Probably reading in bed at night is still my preferred location and time, but the more I try to jam into my evenings (as in writing and blogging and…) the later I collapse into it and the less likely I am to read.
Gone are the days when I can stay awake until 4am reading. I can barely keep my eyes open past midnight half the time.
A couple of years ago I worked in the city for a year and caught the train to and fro each day. That was a total rediscovery of reading for me. Two daily doses of blessed reading on the train. I rediscovered the habit for a year, and found the more regularly I read, the easier it was to make use of the 20 minute spaces. A bit like writing really.
Perversely, I also rather appreciate hangovers. This is because they give me an excuse to spend an entire day languishing on the couch with a good book (so long as it’s a weekend!). Such luxury. But, alas, it doesn’t happen very often.
This reflection was inspired by the third of my eleven questions: Do you read in noisy or quiet spaces? An odd question, really, because I can only assume most people would prefer quiet, when it’s easiest to concentrate.
But I can read when and where it’s noisy. Last year, when I wasn’t working, I would sometimes take myself off to a cafe with a book or my kindle. It was an excuse to get out of the house, really, and I whiled away many an hour or two with a coffee, snack and novel.
So how about you? Where and when do you prefer to read? What are you reading right now? (I’m reading For whom the bell tolls, by Ernest Hemingway.)