I want to read your book. I want to get inside your head and go for a wander. I’ve had enough of my own thoughts: take me somewhere else!
I don’t know where I’d be without books (and baths, and most especially books in the bath). I need time out of my day, the headspace that a long soak in a deep bath with a good book would allow me. It was (and is) the place where I am most voracious: I get in when the bath is scorching and read until the water has gone cold.
I know I’m not alone in being an over-thinker. And I know I’m not alone in being an over-thinker who takes solace in books. And baths. And, ideally, books in the bath!
I usually have five books on the go:
– An audiobook in the car
– A paperback for the bath (Yes, it ends up dog-eared! Don’t lend me something you want back pristine!)
– The book (or books) I’m teaching
– The book (or books) I’m proofreading/editing
– My Kindle for everything else
I read a range of fiction and non-fiction. Over the last year, for instance, among numerous others, I’ve read:
– Costa Novel Award winner Jon McGregor’s ‘Reservoir 13’: a crime/literary fiction crossover
– The I-cannot-believe-I’d-never-read-it-before classic, ‘Jane Eyre’, by Charlotte Brontë
– Mark Manson’s amazing self-help book, ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck’
– The continent-crossing romance by Janet MacLeod Trotter, ‘In the Far Pashmina Mountains’
– Book 1 of self-publishing maestro Paul Teague’s ‘The Grid’ trilogy, a dystopia set in the evocatively named Climbs, Soak and Silk Road.
Having a number of books on the go means I can always pick one up which suits my mood/how tired or alert I may be/how much time I have.
I don’t get mixed up between books. I think my academic background in English literature, the fact I’m used to teaching several different books to several different year groups on any given day, and the proofreading and editing I do, means I’m very practised in going between books. I do not find it a problem. It doesn’t take me long to reorient myself in whatever world I am currently occupying.
The speed of the switch, if you step back and think about it, is quite something. It’s almost like I’m a member of the studio audience in ‘The Hypnotic World of Paul McKenna’ – a click of the fingers and I’m in a medieval fantasy world witnessing a wyvern trying to control minds; I’m in Leicester in the 1980s watching the dance of courtship between a young couple from different classes; I’m in China learning about statecraft and societal structures. It’s amazing, really. I’m not hugely well-travelled – I’ve done alright for ticking off places in Europe, but I’ve never been further. But I feel worldly-wise, I feel I’ve had an insight, and I am hungry to learn more so I keep on reading.
2020 is not the year we had in mind. We need a break and we deserve a break. So, a plea to all of you who may have a book in you: write it! We want to read it. Take us somewhere else.