So a good old few days have passed since I made this pledge and I am still only half way through book six.
I’ve been thinking about the enemies of reading. When I was first a bookseller I used to read at least a book a day. On my days off I’d rattle through two or even three. But I was unhappy and lonely then and books often felt like the only friends I had. These days I have lots of flesh and blood friends and a particularly boisterous bundle of distraction who turned two last weekend. I didn’t have much time to read as I was too busy blowing up ballons, hosting six little friends to a party (the pass the parcel was the funniest thing I have ever seen) and going to In The Night Garden Live.
Then the riots. They were nowhere near me but I kept staying up and watching the awfulness on telly. Then I’d go to bed but wake again and reach for my phone and check twitter and have to get up again. All very silly. I was all yawny and miserable at work. I’d been kept up not by the riots but by my need to consume the riots.
And twitter. Oh, twitter. Of course I love it but these days I find I am spending time I would have spent reading a book on reading twitter. The other day I was reading and sending tweets about tweeting instead of reading. When I went underground and lost signal I got out book five, The Testament of Jessie Lamb. A couple of engrossing chapters later I looked up to see I’d missed my stop. That’s always a good sign.
The Testament of Jesse Lamb is set in the bleak near future. Watching the riots felt like watching a dystopian novel. I still can’t almost believe that I didn’t dream it.
Yesterday afternoon I walked from Vauxhall Bridge Road through Westminter and up to Piccadilly. It was a sunny day and I felt my gloom lift a little. There was a sweet, smily man limbo dancing to a friendly crowd at Piccadilly Circus. I wandered around Waterstone’s and thought that if I wasn’t reading the longlist I would really fancy reading something pink. Maybe about boyfriends and cocktails. Maybe set in New York. Maybe something with lots of jokes.
Desperate times call for comfort reading. I walked down the road to Hatchards and hung around in the soul soothing basement for a bit looking at their cosy crime books.
Despite all the enemies of reading, some of which I am deeply grateful for, some of which I find unbearably distressing, and one of which I simply need to exercise some self control around, I am still glad I have made this pledge. And I’ve added the twist that I’m not going to drink alcohol until I’ve done it.
It has occurred to me that if I find any of the books impenetrable then I may never drink again – that would probably be no bad thing. It has also occurred to me that if I decide I really want a drink I could just start reading really, really fast. Only seven and a half to go. If I didn’t go to work, didn’t look at my phone and ignored my child I could knock that off in four crazy days.
Then I could curl up on the sofa and binge on Georgette Heyer and sherry…