I used to be a voracious reader in my younger days. But ever since breaking out of my teens my reading has slowed.
Once, I could manage a book per week. Now if I read over one book a year, it’s an achievement.
I have excuses (what adult doesn’t for failing their younger selves?). At university I started going out more, then came relationships, jobs, a marriage and — soon — a child.
I still read. I read the news; I read articles online daily. I still try to read books, too. I stack my bedside table with books I’m partway through. My house is full of books I’ve bought — or been bought — that I have not yet read. So much so there isn’t room for all the books and the ones I have read sit in crates in the garage.
I’ve tried a few different things to get me back into the habit. Reading short story collections rather than novels (something that should suit me, given I’ve published two of my own). Re-reading books I have enjoyed before (a dog-eared copy of A Place of Greater Safety is glaring at me from the bedside table) and dedicating specific periods of time to reading. So far none of it has successfully got me back into the reading habit.
There have been a few false dawns. Every time I finish a book I think I’m back in the habit. But I never am. And yet, reading is so much a part of who I am, of how I see myself. I really miss it. What’s more, I miss the escapism, the opportunity to spend time in other worlds. I love my life, but isn’t it more fun to spend time in Ankh-Morpork or The Shire?
With my daughter on the way, I want to pass on a love of reading to her. But how can I do that if I don’t read? Maybe that’ll be the catalyst for me getting back into the habit. If that doesn‘t do it, maybe nothing will. You can get a copy of Lord of the Rings for children, right?
I don’t quite remember the first books I enjoyed as a kid. Some kind of combination of the Peanuts comics, Asterix The Gaul and the adventure stories of Biggles, ace British fighter pilot.
I’ll pass all of those on to my daughter one day, and see if any spark the reading bug in her. If they do, I want to teach her an important lesson: don’t lose it. Make time for it no matter what. I don’t want her to be wondering why she takes so long to read a novel when she’s my age.
Who knows, maybe her love of reading will reignite that spark in me.
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