When was the last time you read a book..?
As in, a book, an actual book book, one that’s written and meant for grown-ups? And not a board book or fabric one or one with a cartoon character on it or in it or one that’s not 99% illustrations or the first in a series of a million Miffys or Gruffalos or something you’ve read out loud, again and again and then again and then ‘just one more time.’?
Distressingly enough, the last one I read start-to-finish was on holiday. We went on holiday in June. And in the swirly mists of time before that, I can’t even really remember. I really can’t (and not even sure I can blame this).
It’s distressing because I love – loved? – reading books. It’s a life long love affair that I now seem, sadly, to be breaking up with.
And I really loved it. As soon as I learnt to read, properly, I was off. I read anything I could get my hands on, from everything in the library to magazines (Just 17!) and absolutely anything from fiction to biographies and the lightest of chic lit to the weightiest of important things. I loved the detail, the intrigue, the escapism and the wonder of words to transport you anywhere they wanted to take you. I especially had a love of reading books about boarding school and used to badger my bewildered mother to send me to one. Just for the midnight feasts, obviously (I still remember finding out from an ex-boarder university friend that they didn’t actually happen. The horror).
I used to cart boxes of my favourite books around with me, from leaving home to uni to moving to London and then from house to house. Even when my life consisted of a heady partly-work-mainly-social-life mix, I’d cram in some book time on my commute and spend lots of lunchtimes wandering around Waterstones. I used to read the entire Booker Prize shortlist and *whispers* actually had my own opinion on them that wasn’t formed on something someone else had shared on Facebook from The Guardian.
I’d like to say that it was motherhood that disrupted this relationship. I mean, my attention span is now permanently fixed and fixated on something else, I’m usually too tired to do anything at most times, especially in the evening. And it’s hard to read in the dark at 3am when books don’t have backlights and there’s a baby attached to your boob.
But really…? Although it was perhaps *slightly* optimistic to have packed a book in my labour bag, it was a decline that started with my first iPhone when I fell down the ‘I’ll just have a quick look to see what’s happening on Facebook’ social media perma wormhole and never quite made it out with my attention span intact.
Although I don’t really read for myself at the moment, like most people I read all the time with my children, because it’s lovely, nostalgic, good, important and educational and because it’s reading. And we read all the board books and fabric ones and ones with all the cartoon characters on and in and that ones that are 99% illustrations and the entire series of the millions Miffys and Gruffalos, out loud, again and again and then again and then ‘just one more time.’
A few weeks in to school Eliza’s take-home learning books are the very first basic two-three-letter phonics ones, but her amazement as she picks out what the words are is magical, and it takes me way back to the very early joy of learning to read myself.
But I also realised; how can I stress how important it is and how much joy there is to be discovered in reading for pleasure if they never see me reading books? If they never see me with my nose in a book or a book in my hand?
So I’m going to rekindle the romance and relight the fire. I’m making a stand against my iPhone and bringing books back into the bedroom. And the rest of the house. Even if it does mean hunting out the Kindle charger. Anyone read anything good lately? (Seriously, I need some suggestions. Also; where would you have hidden the charger if you were me?)