I’ve always loved to read. It has however, like many aspects of life, post children that passion shifted somewhat. The material I have mainly read in the last six years fall into one of each of the following categories…
Children’s books – ‘That’s not my [book]’, The very hungry Caterpillar and the entire Julia Donaldson back catalogue
How to parent books – Help I just had a baby and I have no idea what I’m doing type literature
Blogs – Small digital mouthfuls of ‘I have a child and I have no idea what I’m doing’ type nuggets of digital solace
Books by Bloggers – Larger paper versions of ‘I have a child / blog and I have no idea what I’m doing’
Holiday reads – Blissful abandonment of all domestic normal ties, allowing for a one week binge of fictitious stories of love, laughter and history. Think ‘The Island’, ‘Me after You’, ‘The captain’s daughter’ (so good) and so forth…
I guess somehow along the line I replaced a love of reading for pure joy with a need to engulf information, a need to feel amongst other Mums, and probably more than anything, a need for sleep. Because the only time I made time to read for pleasure, for me was when I broke free from all normal constraints, and literally escaped to a far flung destination (okay, sometimes it was just Broadstairs, but away is away right?).
I don’t know what changed this year, but I started to feel a pull towards that escapism a good novel provides. I read many ‘book review’ blog posts and started to remember how much I loved to read; to get lost in a story and not want to put a book down so I can just find out what happens next. I suppose through the power of social media there is another form of influence; perhaps begging the question can you really judge a book by it’s cover?
I am a relatively fast reader, and on a two week holiday pre-kids I once read a record 14 books. Granted, I didn’t move from a sun lounger for eight hours at a time, but it was bliss.
Since those days of trying to pack eight chunky books into a suitcase, I saw the benefit in a digital reader, and despite having resisted for years, I relented and added one to my Christmas list. It for sure added convenience of transporting books, but in the years that followed I think in a way it did contribute to that loss of love for reading. It was never charged when I wanted it, and I missed that sensation of flicking through pages. Plus, after hours of staring at screens, phones, blogs all evening, I guess the pull to stare at another screen just wasn’t there.
So recently, post world book day, ironically, I took the girls to exchange their vouchers for books, and for the first time in many years, I picked up one for myself. The heavily instagrammed Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. I guess I wanted to see what all the buzz was about, and also, I probably thought it would make a good instagram picture. But regardless of the silly reasons, fall in love with Eleanor is what I did, and, in parallel, fall in love with books all over again.
Once I’d raced through Eleanor Oliphant, I was hungry for more. With a mini break on the horizon with Dad Muddling Through, suddenly a decent book seemed a critical part of my packing list. Cue Dawn O’Porter’s ‘The Cows; Don’t follow the herd’.
Again, I couldn’t get to the end quick enough, and for the first time in years, when the tea was washed up, the girls were happily playing, I grabbed a brew and did something for myself, at home, in daylight hours. I read a chapter of my book.
What is so lovely is that I realised it created something for the family dynamics too – Mummy sitting down, lost in a book (not her phone) was a novel sight for the girls, and something I felt pretty pleased about. How better to encourage a love of reading in your children, than for them to see you loving a good book. Tig’s even asked lots of questions about the story, and tried to read a few lines too.
And so, after many years apart, my books and I are back together. The last thing on my mind before I close my eyes is no longer a quick scroll through my phone, and I’ve grabbed a few early nights just to lock down a few chapters (sorry Dad Muddling Through).
Currently I’m falling in love with a young boy named August, and I can’t wait to find out where his story of Wonder takes us.
Please keep sharing your reads with me, I’m on the look out for some new recommendations! I love to read your book review posts and pin them all onto #coolmumclub Book Club– so if you’re looking for inspiration it’s a good place to start.
Ultimately, indulging in a good book has been a part of me shelved for far too long, and I’m taking this passion back for myself, the person I still am, and always have been.