Today, 1st of November but with weather similar to late August, I spent some time with my parents in the fine city where I live.
Usually visits here are to coincide with football fixtures, and often we have time only for a quick catch up before, at half time and then after the match. But due to the ever changing kick off, the whimsy of satellite TV, the folks decided to have an overnighter & hang around. I also kept my diary clear so we could spend the unseasonably warm day doing things I rarely get time for in my home city.
So what has all this to do with books? Well we frequented a large book store on our wanderings, and I kept picking up titles that piqued my interest. But I didn’t let myself buy any. As I explained to my Dad, I have a pile of books bought and yet unread at home. Some I have owned for years. My excuse is that I never have time. His response was I should put a few hours aside each week to read.
And of course he’s right. I love books. I love the smell of the paper, the weight in my hand, the texture of the pages. A room lined with shelves of countless volumes of fact and fiction, a personal library to peruse, would be my perfect space.
As a child I was a voracious reader. I would stay up late in bed, consumed. I picked up Jane Eyre at 9, though I struggled with some of the language. In my early teens I made weekly visits to the local library, to search out interesting titles to borrow. I have memories of sitting in bed all night to finish a book I was so engrossed with, that I couldn’t put it down until I had finished. I began to buy books, classic novels as 99p paperbacks, through my teenage years I got through the works of Austen, Dickens and Hardy. I sat on my bedroom floor, and read on through streaming eyes, as I wept through the final pages of Tess of the D’urbervilles.
So why now do I no longer have time? Where does that time go? Or have I fallen out with my love of the written word?
I fear I have become lazy. My desire for knowledge and stories is now sated by TV, social media and podcasts. I oversubscribe, so I always have a backlog to catch up on, and I never turn my smart phone off. I will sit in bed for an hour, refreshing my feeds and timelines, to catch every post & comment I can. That hour could have been spent reading.
So it’s time to make a pledge. To turn my phone over & pick up a book. To turn off the TV and make way through that stack of the unread. To reignite that passion, and lose myself in the text once more.