I love to read. I read every day, and I honestly can’t remember a time when I didn’t. It’s a really important part of my life and I couldn’t imagine being without it. But I have 4 kids and 2 dogs, a house to run, and writing to do; I don’t have time to read for hours every day. In fact, I never read during the daytime now, not even at the weekends. All my reading is done in bed before going to sleep.
I wouldn’t say I’m completely stuck in my reading habits, but I do tend to gravitate towards the same sort of books, especially when I’m tired. I usually read a mix of about 75% fiction and 25% non-fiction. My fiction reading is split between modern romantic comedies (Jenny Colgan, Sophie Kinsella and Paige Toon are favourites), bestsellers (I loved Elinor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, The Girl On The Train, and Gone Girl, and I never miss a Lisa Jewell), and re-reading favourite classics like Jane Austen and Little Women when I’m feeling nostalgic. My non-fiction reading is generally self-help books, especially to do with productivity or happiness, and some parenting stuff.
We have A LOT of books in our house, a problematic amount. More books than bookshelves and – dare I admit? – DOUBLE-STACKING! This matter was brought to a head recently when we finally got all our books out of storage, where about half our books had been for a few crazy years during which we moved house far too much for anyone’s liking and never really knew how long we were going to be in one place.
I set about organising our preciouses properly for the first time about a month ago: turns out what it boils down to is that my husband and I have a BIG book buying problem. Some books we had three or four copies of (presumably one each from before we met and then we bought more together?), others were so random, there was no way anyone was ever going to read them. However, there were a lot of lovely books, books I’d forgotten about, books I really wanted to read, but had never got around to, and books recommended to me by my children. What better time than when all the libraries and bookshops are closed to actually get around to reading them?
Hours of lugging dusty books around, selling on-line, and donations to a local charity, mean all our books now fit on our shelves: for the first time for easily more than a decade we can actually SEE all our books. And I discovered something expected: I don’t personally have to keep many books. There are certain favourites and classics I will read again, but most I won’t.
I discovered a lot of books I hadn’t read yet, so, I made myself an official to-be-read bookcase, which is what I am working my way through, and it’s been brilliant!
I’m currently really enjoying Ready Player One – recommended by my eldest. The book before that was by Caitlin Moran, and was the sort of book I would never normally read: can’t say I loved it, but it was interesting. Before that was War of the Worlds, which was a little dry, but fascinating to imagine aliens among horses and carriages! Before that was Howard’s End (love the film, had never read the book). Before that was Neil Gaiman’s Stardust (actually slightly prefer the film, but that’s the only Neil Gaiman book I’ve read apart from his brilliant Norse Myths work – I will definitely be reading more!). Before that was The African Queen which was so exciting, but with bizarrely behaving bosoms throughout! I won’t keep all these books, but at least they’re not sitting unread on my shelves anymore, and can be passed on to someone else.
The next stage of my plan is to take some time to read during the day, even if it’s only 20 minutes at the weekend with a cup of tea next to me and, ideally, in the garden. I’ll let you know how it goes!