Books have always played a huge part in my life. The smell, feel and presence of them have always settled and calmed my mind. In my opinion, there is nothing worse than not knowing what you are going to read next. That’s not to say that I don’t have a Kindle – I do, but if I fall in love with a Kindle book (which happens often), I end up buying a paperback version for my bookshelf, therefore spending double the money on one title. I doubt I am the only one that does this.
I currently have three piles of books next to my bed waiting to be read. Some will be rubbish – ones where I won’t get further than the first chapter (if it doesn’t grab me straight away, I cannot persevere with it, like the infamous “Fifty Shades” – didn’t even get to the sex bits). Others I need to be in the mood for – I have yet to read the Madeleine McCann biography as I would have to be in a particular mental space for that one. I may never read it.
And as with everything in my life – food, exercise, drink – I binge-read. If I find a new author that I love, I want to read everything they have ever written immediately. My obsession with particular authors began as a child with Enid Blyton. I remember reading a particular story about Pip the Pixie from the library when I was all of about 10 and I loved it so much that I told my mother she had to find a copy for me. However, we couldn’t find it anywhere (these were the pre-Amazon 1980s) until I found it in a second-hand bookshop recently and bought it for my daughter. But Pip has always stayed with me and led me to read every single Enid Blyton book when I was little.
As a teenager, I moved onto harder stuff and became obsessed with Stephen King. The first was “It” and I was so captured by it that I would sit up till all hours reading when my parents thought I was asleep. My ultimate favourite King novel was “The Stand” – I read that just after starting my first job out of school and couldn’t put it down, to the extent that I remember sitting reading in the toilet cubicle at my new job when I should’ve been answering phones. I have now read every single King story and still love them (although his recent ones have been less enthralling, I have to say).
Things haven’t changed since then. I recently started reading Jojo Moyes’ “Me Before You”. Now my normal choice of novel is usually something to do with blood and gore – crime, a thriller, a smattering of horror and a sprinkling of fantasy, just to change it up a bit. I am not really a chick-lit reader, although I have been drawn into the Jodi Piccoult/Diane Chamberlain world on a number of occasions because I love their realistic take on sensitive issues. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy Moyes’ book as I had heard that tissues would need to be at the ready, which immediately made me dubious. However, one morning on the way to the station I grabbed it off my “to read” pile as a last-minute choice and started reading it on the train into London. It grabbed me immediately, to the point where I didn’t want to get up out of my seat. Yes, I was the annoying person in the aisle seat that you have to climb over at Waterloo because they want to be last off the train. By the time I got home that evening, I was halfway through and it was all I could think about. I immediately decided that a nice soak in the bath with my book was in order – big mistake. In our house, as soon as you turn off the taps, there is a Pavlovian reaction and three things happen: Mick the dog enters the bathroom and puts his paws on the tub to lick the bubbles out of the water; one of the kids decides they need a very big poo in that particular toilet (we have two others – I’m not bragging, just saying…); and Him Indoors decides to come in for a chat, usually about the mortgage. Needless to say, my stress levels rose and little reading ensued.
The next day, I was wiser – I locked myself in the bathroom without alerting anyone with running water and ignored all knocking, name-calling and door-scratching (from the dog and the kids) in order to finish the book. An hour later, I emerged with a numb bum from sitting on the loo seat, but the satisfaction (and sadness) of having finished such a brilliant, thought-provoking, emotional yet humorous book. Him Indoors raised his eyebrow when I finally surfaced and asked if I was alright (fearing some weird illness had kept me trapped so long). I replied that I had wanted to finish my book and his response was, “There are more comfortable seats in the house.”
There are, but when needs must…