When life gets tough and I can’t see the light at the end of a dark tunnel, I’ll look for a book to lose myself in. When I don’t know the answer to a question, I tend to seek the answers in books (and occasionally Google). Bored? Find something to read. Long train journeys – hellooooo book! Let’s just say that come rain or shine, I’ll always find time and/or an excuse to pick up a book and retreat into whatever world exists between those pages. It doesn’t matter if it is fiction or nonfiction, science, history, dystopia, classic, literary, young adult or sci-fi…there are always lessons to be learned and messages to be gleaned – and sometimes when you reread a book, those messages and lessons will change simply because you as the reader have also changed.
I’ve always loved reading, for as long as I can remember. Mum would often tease that she never knew what corner of the house I was in because I was so quiet and I had my nose buried in a book. Friends know not to disturb me with inane chatter or pleas of let’s go here when on holiday with me if I’m engrossed in my latest read…indeed my favourite travel companions understand my need for ‘Kindle time’ and will often even join me (yes I know we’re dorks).
I go through phases and will hop around genres. Sometimes I won’t pick up a nonfiction book for years, preferring a story well told to real life. I often find it to be the case that the last book you read will set the mood or expectation for what you will next pick up, so a great story will often prompt you on towards another story, and then another, until you either 1) come up against a book where you struggle with the plot, the writing or the characterisation and struggle to get through the story, or 2) burnout – too much of a good thing can become a bad thing.
When this happens, I find the best thing to do is completely change tack and explore something new. I think I’m that lazy hoarder type of person…when I come across a book that interests me, I could make a note of it…or I could just buy it. This compulsive book buying has its advantages and disadvantages. Like when I want to change tack and look for something new and interesting to read, I don’t have to go much further than my bookshelf or Kindle library. However, sometimes this means books get forgotten for years and years, or I buy one format (Kindle), forget that I’ve done that, and buy the same book in another format. Oops!
Books keep you company – you’re never alone as long as you have a book in your bag (indeed my handbag criteria is simple…minimum size – you need to be able to fit a book inside). They can be as near and dear to you as flesh and blood friends, and often more accessible. They aren’t just words on paper – they give you the deepest access to the thoughts and imaginations of people you may otherwise never know.
I’m often asked where I find the time to read so much. Simply put, I make the time. Yes, I know I can watch the movie…but more often than not, movies lack the depth and nuance you get from books, and you miss out on the wonders of your own imagination (it’s OK…I know I sound a little crazy).
My favourite authors are those who just know how to tell a good story, whether it be pure imagination, fiction inspired by fact, or nonfiction in all its varieties. I love the buzz that comes from reading a book that completely changes the way you think or how you see the world. The feeling that stays with you long after you’ve finished reading that book…and leaves you wanting more, always more.