Posted by: Natalie | October 19, 2010

Reading Habits

Given the type of blog I write, it is of no shock that I love a good read. A good book will steal me away into another world in a way which films and DVDs simply cannot. There is a land so vivid and rich lying in wait in my imagination, itching to be awoken by the words poured from some unsuspecting page. I have always enjoyed reading and the satisfaction that comes from completing the final page, but it is not something I have always done religiously.

I am sure many of you will relate to the fact that sometimes, when fully employed, you simply do not have the time or the energy to fit in your preferred amount of reading. Sometimes people question my need for ‘energy’ for indulging in this happy past time, but it does require more than some may imagine. When a book is particularly good, it absorbs me entirely – nothing can distract me and nothing else exists. The whole world is repainted before me and the senses are over loaded as the narrative becomes real. I am not a speedy reader, I think because my brain is mulling over every word and phrase to such an extent, that and the suspicions that I may be a little dyslexic!

So when I chose my year off, I devoured books like there was no tomorrow. Each morning I would read for the very minimum of an hour while my Steve still dosed or got himself ready for work. I would pick up my book when going to the shops or into town and read while walking or on the train. A break from writing saw me reaching for my current tale and catching a chapter before starting again. Then of course there was bedtime; having the freedom of a none-specific bed time meant I could read for hours and drift off when I wanted.

This wonderful and happy routine has gone. No matter how hard I try I simply cannot get up early enough to get in my hours reading, as I had previously planned. There is no catch up time during the day as I originally thought there would be. I have quite a specific bed time now also (I know I am not eight, but if I don’t stick to it I am a risk to the world!) so don’t always get in a daily dose, those nights I do get to read I barely get through twenty pages before my heavy eyes insist on closing. It is a frustration yes, but not one that I realised was having a profound negative effect on me.

As such I have not even got through half of William Hussey’s Gallows at Twilight which is made ever more depressing by the fact that it is so far a superb sequel. I would relish the chance (hopefully soon to come) to spend a whole morning in bed indulging in his words, to rapidly turn the pages and discover what further dark demons lurk within. It almost breaks me as I climb into bed and feel so utterly shattered that I can not pick up and read.

Last night I made more of an effort, I was missing my daily injection of literary prose. As soon as I begun I felt intoxicated, high on my own personal drug; in short, I was relaxed. Despite the horrors of the narrative (plot not writing!!) I was grinning moronically because of this recently misplaced friend. It was such a joy and such a genuine happiness I felt for holding that paper in my head and disappearing from my own crowded world. I did feel like a new woman with a better attitude towards the forthcoming day. I put my head on the pillow content and for the first time in what seems like months slept a full and peaceful night.

The lesson I have learned is that there is very little in a day that is more important than this time to myself to read. Ok, I may not be spending the quality time (read: lengthy) I want, but when do we ever get all that we want? Regardless, there cannot be much that should prevent me from this quiet hour alone. I would even go so far as to suggest that in a particularly hectic day that it is this hour that should always stay, even before my own writing.

So I am setting my sights high again. I have recently let myself down (there’s the teacher voice) by not sticking to my routine reading to the best of my abilities. In the process I feel I have weakened this blog a little in the serious lack of book reviews over the last two months. I am not super woman, there is never going to be a day when I achieve all that I set out but this fundamental building block of my sanity, this basic ‘human right’ in my day HAS to be the one thing that stays. When the rest of the world collapses around me, I hope that love of reading and that ritualised solitary pursuit remains. Therapy at its finest!



  1. Amen. I fear, however, you are preaching to the choir, as I suspect most of your readers also wish for more hours in their days (and less busy-ness) to read for pleasure.

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