My most common lament over the past two years is how little time I’ve managed to set aside for reading. It’s been such an important part of my life – I’ve written before about some of the books and authors that shaped me, and obviously in my ten years as an English teacher it was at the very core of what I did.
But since becoming a mum books have taken on a somewhat soporific quality. The pile of things I want to read has been growing bigger and bigger, but no sooner have I got a few pages in than my eyelids have begun to close. That hasn’t been universally true – I have managed to finish some books – but certainly nowhere near as many as I would have liked.
This state of affairs is particularly ridiculous given my current ambitions to be a published novelist. I may not have read many novels since Arthur’s been born, but I have written two! In some ways this is part of the problem. I don’t really like to read fiction when I’m in the midst of working on a work of my own. I think I’m worried that too much of what I’m reading might seep into my words. But I can’t be a writer without being a reader, there’s just too much I still have to learn.
So this week I decided, whilst mulling over the feedback I’ve been given and my own ideas for the next edit of my novel, that I would make time to read. And it’s been awesome!
It’s been surprising how many moments I’ve actually been able to find to lose myself in a book. And also how long I’ve managed to read for without falling asleep when my reading time wasn’t relegated to when I was already tucked up in bed…
I’ve read two novels already since last weekend, and I’m just getting stuck into a third. The first two were thrillers I hadn’t read before – You Should Have Known and The Book of You, both fantastic and more than a little bit creepy. The third is an old favourite of mine, The Time Traveller’s Wife. All three have certain things in common with the novel I’m currently working on, and being immersed in their worlds has helped me realise things about the one I’m trying to create – an added bonus to what has generally been an immensely enjoyable week.
My reading certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed by Arthur either: he’s been increasingly curious about what I’ve been up to (when he’s been awake) and has often crawled into my lap to take a closer look. I think he’s been a bit miffed by the lack of pictures, but it’s inspired him to pick up his own books too.
He loves books anyway, and adores being read to, but there’s been something very special about both sitting quietly reading. Arthur has actually discovered a new favourite book in The Little Engine That Could. We discovered the film a couple of weeks ago – it was kind of inevitable really given his general train obsession, and we’ve both really enjoyed it. He was thrilled to find the characters also existed in the pages of a book, albeit in a slightly different story.
It has been so brilliant to break through the barriers I’d put up for myself and sink into some really good books. I should do it more often I realise, though I think I’m pretty much ready now to get back into my own. In fact I’m really looking forward to it.