Friday, February 6, 2009

Notes on reading

What’s this blog about? Well, I’m a fussy reader. I’m opinionated. And I often tell people what I think they should be reading. So friends of mine told me to start a blog of book reviews. They would follow it, and maybe other people might find it interesting too. So here goes.

First thoughts, on finding time to read. Reading makes me introverted. I have three young children, so this is a problem. If I don’t read, I get grumpy. If I do read and then have to be attentive to their needs, I get grumpy. What’s the balance?

Books in the toilet: hmmm. Gross in theory, useful in practice if you really want to snatch in a few extra pages. I once knew a guy who had two kids and no time at all to himself. He put up a bookshelf in his toilet, put all his textbooks there, and did all his study sitting on the loo. It was the only place in the house his kids wouldn’t bother him. But my kids hammer on the wall and then laugh themselves sick, so that doesn’t really work at our house.

Books by the coffee machine? No! Although I can snatch a couple of pages while the machine heats up, the kids interrupt and I get testy. Who wants a testy mum? I mostly hide my books away when the kids are awake so I’m not tempted to pick them up. Thus I don’t get interrupted, and stay cheerful! (Attic of the dolls’ house, in case you’re wondering.)

Books on the train? Aha! Anytime someone else has the kids, I catch public transport to get where I’m headed. Then I can sit back in comfort (or stand in squashy discomfort) and read. Train cancelled? Terrific, I’ll get another chapter in. Missed my connection? Such a pity! I’ll just have to stand here and read.

Doctor’s waiting rooms? I found myself a doctor who always runs late. I get someone else to mind the kids (‘I’m seeing the doctor about, you know, women’s business - don’t really want the kids there…’), and arrive on time. Then I can read in the waiting room. When I finally see her, the doctor’s always terribly apologetic about the wait, and I can give her my most understanding smile.

Television substitute? Well, der. I made it hard to turn on the television. Television is mostly boring; even so, I can still switch it on and watch it regardless. But when it’s hard to turn on, then I find it easier to pick up a book – and end the evening feeling satisfied, enthralled, even slightly virtuous. So our television is switched off at the set and the wall, and kept in a cupboard.

Siesta time? I need sleep too! I have a baby after all. But if I do stay awake, I read a short story, so when my older kids get up I’m not half way through something. There are enough reasons to be a grumpy mum without adding book, interrupted to them.

So there you go. I read late at night, on public transport, and in waiting rooms. My reading time is limited, and my taste is narrow. Posts will be about books old and new, adult, junior and picture books. Just good books, and I’ll tell you why I think you should read them. Because who has time to finish a crap book? Not me, that’s for sure!

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