I was recently reading an article by Sarah Armstrong in The Victorian Writer. The article discussed Sarah’s reading habits and the immense impact having a baby had on changing the habits. The article made me consider my own reading habits and the significant changes having children had made on them.
I must admit I was never a fast reader and could not even begin to meet Sarah’s record of 117 books in a year. It can take me quite a while to read a book, particularly as I often read at night. After a long day I crawl into bed with a good book and start reading but frequently my thoughts wandered and I find that I need to re-read the same page as I haven’t absorbed any of it.
Prior to moving in with my partner, I would read most nights. I didn’t have a TV in my bedroom (or want one) and it was part of my daily routine to read before sleeping. I also loved to curl up on the couch on a rainy day with book in one hand, coffee in the other and my blanket over my legs.
Moving in with my partner certainly changed these habits. The amount of time to curl up on a couch was shortened and I was faced with a new distraction in the bedroom: The dreaded TV. Whilst I would still try to read on most occasions, I would often find myself being distracted by some reality show or documentary.
But I still read. I read books that grabbed my attention quickly and drew me in making it impossible to put them down. These were the kind that would keep you up to all hours of the morning, constantly telling yourself you’d read just one more page. I remember feeling this way about all of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books and Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha.
I relished in books that challenged me and made me pay attention to every detail. Books like Salmon Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children or The Moor’s Last Sigh. I would cling to every word.
I loved the sarcastic and cynical world views of George Orwell’s 1984 or Maxx Barry’s Syrup.
I enjoyed the classics and would re-read Jane Austen‘s Pride and Prejudice, loosing myself in the romantic world. I also loved the darker classics, such as Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights or Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Think what you will of my taste (some of you will be appalled) but the point is I loved to read. I loved to read anything! I would even trudge through a book that failed to grab my attention; trawling through the pages hoping I might find some good in it before the end. I read popular fiction and high-brow literature. I even loved to read non-fiction.
My post-baby life is very different to this. The last book I read (about five minutes ago as a bedtime story) was Dr Seuss‘s There’s a Wocket in my Pocket. This is just one of the many favourites that I have read many times at night. Other favourites include Eric Hill’s Spot on the Farm, Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Michael Rosen’s We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and Dr Seuss’s Hop on Pop.
I could probably count on two hands the number of books I’ve actually finished in the last four years, since the birth of my first son. I managed to read Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle trilogy (and am eagerly awaiting the release of book four), Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight Series, D’Arcy Niland‘s The Shiralee and Julie Klassen’s The Apothecary’s Daughter (which I picked up for sale for $2). There may have been one or two others but it is hard to say.
As far as non-fiction goes, I have flicked through a few parenting books but that is about it.
I have started many other books, only to have them sitting on my bedside table for a month and then returned to the shelf. I would manage to get through a page at night, only to fall asleep, book in hand. The books I have managed to finish have usually required less in-depth thinking and have included the ability to skip over one or two pages.
More often than not, I usually try to read magazine articles or short stories as I have more confidence in completing them.
In her article, Sarah Armstrong said that she was not suffering from her reduced reading. I wish I could say the same. I once prided myself on being well read. I loved walking into a book shop and being familiar with most of the covers. Now I feel like an outsider looking in. So many titles sound foreign and the names of authors are unknown.
Yet with such limited time, I am resigned to focussing on There’s a Wocket in my Pocket. For the time being at least.
Note: For information on The Victorian Writer in which Sarah Armstrong’s article appeared, see http://vwc.org.au/services/the-victorian-writer
- Dr.Seuss ‘If I ran the circus’ (circusgeeks.wordpress.com)
- Did You Know (Dr. Seuss)? (yellowinspiration.wordpress.com)