Reading: my guilty pleasure!


It didn’t use to be like this. Back in the day, I could while away a whole morning or afternoon with a good book perfectly easily. I would think nothing of submerging myself in a novel with the same joy as I might a hot bath. Occasionally I might feel a trace of guilt after the fact, when the day had slipped by with little (on the face of it) to show for it, but it never spoilt the actual pleasure of reading.

Nowadays, things are different. I find it difficult to settle to reading. The odd article or post is easy enough, but a proper book? That’s a different matter. I suspect partly (and paradoxically) this may be because I’m a writer myself. I know we writers are supposed to read all the time, and I guess I do if we’re talking about writing-related tips and info, but being a writer means you can’t help but spend time analysing and deconstructing the written word as you read. Plus you tend to read stuff that you ought to read, rather than the stuff you really want to devour. And that tends to get in the way of real reading pleasure.

But that’s not the whole story. Partly it’s habit (or falling out of the habit). Reading used to be my default setting. After a bit, writing became my default setting. Now I suspect Facebook and eBay are becoming a much less satisfying alternative. Why do I allow myself to be distracted by such tosh?!

And the other thing is the dullness of being a grown up, with grown up responsibilities. You sit down for a moment to read, and the thought begins to gnaw at you that you put a wash on a little while ago and hadn’t you better get the washing out to dry? Or the washing up needs doing (OK, we’re probably the only people in the universe who don’t have a dishwasher, but that’s fine by me.) Or the dogs need a walk. Or the garden is looking neglected. Or the car needs vacuuming out. Or you really ought to write a blog post…

I have to face facts: there are 24 hours in day, everyone gets the same number – but how you spend them is up to you. If you want to do something you will make time for it, even if it means making a compromise somewhere else. And I want to be a reader again. A voracious reader. A reader who reads for the simple joy of it.

So, if you’ll excuse me, I have a book waiting…….. 🙂

6 responses »

  1. I read a lot. I always have and becoming a reader didn’t change that (although it has slightly changed they way in which I enjoy some books). Personally I think giving up reading in order to write makes as much sense as someone giving up eating in order to become a chef.

    • Agreed – but what I’m finding as I get older is that I don’t so often read with that same total absorption as I used to. I’d like to get that back. Or at least not fall asleep three pages in…..

  2. Reading has always been my pleasure, and never a guilty one. I read both to relax and learn. These days I give up on books I’m not enjoying much more easily than I did years ago. Too many enjoyable ones out there! Certainly my garden is a mess, and the tops of shelves that no-one can see are probably a disgrace, but reading is more productive than endless cleaning!

  3. I have a pile of paperbacks waiting to be read, but even on a rainy day in the motorhome I’m on the computer more often than I’m reading. I used to be submerged in another world for entire train journies, but now I’m no longer commuting I get restless after half an hour or so (- the weeding or mowing, the editing, the dogs need a walk… Housework? if I find myself worrying about housework I know it’s time to find a job)). I thought, when summer arrived I would sit out and catch up on my reading, but there wasn’t enough summer last year, and this one’s not looking good.
    No, I don’t deconstruct what I’m reading – I probably should to inform my own writing, which needs all the help it can get. In spite of such laziness, I no longer find I can’t put a book down till it’s finished (come back Terry Pratchett!)
    Is that just me? or am I reading the wrong stories?

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