When I was visiting the hairdressers the other day (no, contrary to appearances I don’t cut it myself with blunt Felcos) a conversation ensued about reading. It went something like this:
Other customer to her stylist (she was having sun-kissed highlights so in for the long haul): “No I don’t need a magazine thank you, I have bought a book with me” then looking over in our direction “have you read this one? its a real page turner”.
My hairdresser: “I don’t read books”
Me: “What? You don’t read books, you heathen, desist from hacking at my hair this very moment, get straight to the library and mend your wicked ways!”.
Of course I am not really that judgemental, but I did suggest that she might give it a go, she might even enjoy it. Personally I have had gleaned so much pleasure from books that I am always ready to champion their value.
I have always enjoyed reading, since an early age I have been an addict. I would diligently read to my, less than keen, younger brother. Whether he liked it or not. Mostly not. I have rarely faltered. I have read and read and read. Classics, contemporaries, experimental, poetry, fact, fiction, fictional fact, concise, verbose, funny, tragic. On only two occasions has there been a gap. Once, whilst travelling in Europe, when all our possessions were carried on our backs, our books were soon read and left for others to find. When we reached our oasis, the magical hamlet Brugaroilles, we read the book shelves from left to right. Alistair McLean, Daphne du Maurier, Christopher Lloyd and John Irvine, a few of the authors we systematically swept through. There was also a short period when I found it impossible to read. It was when I had just began writing myself and found reading established, published authors, disconcerting, the urge to compare irresistible and daunting. I soon recovered from this small vanity.
This hunger hasn’t waned. Scattered around the house there are those in waiting. Piles of assorted books, their contents hidden for the moment. When I am chastised I try to explain that to me they are like a box of chocolates. When the current book is finished I relish the joyful decision as to which should be sampled next.
However, unless I am travelling, I rarely read except at the end of the day in bed. This has become an unswerving routine. I have to be very tired to miss it, even just two pages, even if I have to re-read them the next day, it is essential.
Today was different. With chore list abandoned, I sat silent, unhindered or disturbed, and read one hundred pages of Cider House Rules. It was bliss.