In any list of achievements for 2020, reading a book hardly seems worth mentioning. Especially if you’re a voracious reader. As I was…right up until the day I started writing novels myself. Then, despairingly, I stopped reading (almost) completely.
Let me answer the question with a series of comments made by the illiterate devil sitting on my shoulder:
- “You should be doing the washing, shopping, etc.”
- “You should be working. Your business won’t run itself”
- “You should be writing”
- “What if you inadvertently copy concepts, ideas or characters, especially from books in the same genre?”
- “You’ll doubt your own skills if you read too much brilliant prose by others”
Whether or not any of those reasons make sense is neither here nor there. Fact is, I largely stopped reading novels, finishing just four in 2019 (one of which was my own).
But I missed reading.
In particular, I missed nighttime reading. When the written word carries you away from the world of work, family, and household responsibilities, allowing you to slip into peaceful slumber via someone else’s imagined world.
This year, I ran a red pen through those six
reasons excuses with three simple resolutions:
- Replace smartphone time with reading time
- Read outside my own field of writing, except for books by author friends or novels that come highly recommended
- Read for pleasure, not for comparison
And so I’ve become a reader again.
My TBR list will take me into genres unknown and fill a few holes in my literary education, such as women’s classical literature outside of Austen and the Brontes. NB: your recommendations are most welcome!
It feels wonderful.
The only problem is that great writing leads me astray, refusing to let go of my imagination even when the book is closed. After finishing Madeline Miller’s wonderful Circe, anchored in the world of Greek mythology, I wrote in a Goodreads review:
…a head full of Gods, Titans and witchcraft is not necessarily a good thing when browsing the supermarket herbs and spices aisle
All I’ll say is, you should probably say no if I ever offer you some mulled wine. (And keep well clear if you see me reading anything by Stephen King.)