One of the many things that fell by the wayside when the small folk joined the team was my enthusiasm, time, energy and interest in books. This was, for a short while, quite a loss. Because I have always, and forever, loved books.
Any question of preference for fiction or non-fiction really goes out the window when the mainstay of your reading material is The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Goodnight Moon and Steve Parish’s classic; Baby Animals (all of them gold, in their own special way).
I did miss adult reading – so much that the simple act of scanning the newspaper was, for a while, a personal daily goal. When you’re busy navigating a domestic world that is full of minutiae, it can be very satisfying to know a little about what’s happening in the outside world, and to regain a global view.
I missed novels too, but as novel reading used to happen at the end of the day and, post-children that time was then taken over by sheer exhaustion, I was often too sleepy to really mind.
When life started to become more routine, I ordered three crisp, beautiful books. Real, bound, word-filled books to please the eye and enrich the soul. I love them. When they arrived I held them tight and felt quietly excited about the prospect of launching into new adventures, with new characters to love or loathe, different worlds to experience and best of all, the knowledge of once again sharing in all the colour and life that literature can offer.
It’s about four months later.
To date, I have read 25 pages.
Not a great ROI.
Strangely, instead of lamenting what I can only see as a semi-permanent change, I’ve been seeing the positives. Here are five:
1. I have read innumerable life enriching, colorful, brilliantly written or simply addictive stories. Many of these have moulded how I think, feel or see the world – no mean feat for something the size of an A5 page. I can’t wait to introduce my children to some of the best ones as they grow and watch them enjoy all those stories has to offer.
2. I used to like children’s books. Mostly the ones I could remember from my own childhood. I now adore a number of children’s books*. I have read the same books countless times and some of them still give me great pleasure to retell – the illustrations, the tone, the glorious rhymes, the ridiculously funny stories and charming, or disarming, characters.
3. I now read blogs. I now love blogs – the immediacy, the personal stories, the clever imagery, the snippets you can delve into at any time. Or not. The fact that there are so many incredibly talented people out there who may not wish to do anything more than simply share their thoughts or talents. Great, quick reading, each and every day.
4. The news online is still the news. It has the stories, the images and the main action. It’s just easier to read in quick moments. It doesn’t have the charm of newsprint, but it’s still worth it.
5. Magazines, newsletters, online newsletters, letters from family – these are all literature worth reading and mindfully enjoying. That small note from your husband or child? Worth bottling. It’s the literature of the moment and worth enjoying it for what it is.
It won’t be long til the novel next to my bed is a more regular nightly sign off. But to be honest, not reading for hours on end no longer seems a loss. In changing my expectations I see that it’s a love of words and stories that really adds to life. And that can come in so many ways.
*Our current top five:
- Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox, Helen Oxenbury
- Babyberry Pie by Heather Vogel Frederick, Amy Schwartz
- Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, Clement Hurd
- Rudie Nudie by Emma Quay
- The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson, Axel Scheffler