There was a time, about twenty years ago, when my reading prowess reached its peak. I could whip through a novel in a day. There was one holiday where I devoured twenty-four books in a fortnight (okay, most of them were short children’s books, but my holiday companions were all fairly impressed), and I was engaged and enthralled by all of them. No skim-reader, me.
But how times have changed. Writing takes up almost all of my spare time now. When I’m not working at the day job at Orion, I’m writing: on the train to work, my lunch break, the train home, the evenings and weekends. And then there’s real life: bits of housework and paying bills and all that crap. Oh, and a family! So I’ve found myself with very little time for reading. I tend to leave it till the end of the day, which I find is okay for non-fiction, but lately I’ve been really struggling with fiction, and at my age I need my snoozy-time beauty sleep, so I find myself reading twenty pages and nodding off.
One night last week I started reading the final Terry Pratchett novel THE SHEPHERD’S CROWN. I got about twenty pages in and had to stop myself. This was the great man’s last book. I’ve been reading Terry since I was a teenager, and would regularly read his books three or four times, and here we were at the end of his journey. This couldn’t be enjoyed piecemeal. It deserved to be savoured properly and so, for the first time in ages, I set aside some proper, quality reading time at the weekend. In the day time. And boy, does it change how you appreciate a book.
I was able to enjoy the quality of the writing, and had a much clearer feeling for the characters and their story arcs. I know this might sound like the bleeding obvious, but this was a reminder to me just how much I enjoyed reading.
So now I need to make this a regular thing. But how to make more time? I guess it means watching fewer crappy TV shows and less goofing about on Facebook and Twitter. So, should you see me there blethering on about the movies or (God forbid) politics or religion, ask me what I’m reading and that should get me skipping back to my bookshelf.
PS. This was written after 9pm, so apologies for any speling mistrakes. I’m rather tired…
PPS. THE SHEPHERD’S CROWN is a fitting and moving end to Terry’s work. I’m so glad I took the time to read it properly.