Friday, 16 January 2015

Books, glorious, glorious books.

There's a radio show in the UK called Desert Island Discs. Celebrities or Persons of Note are interviewed about their lives and along the way choose eight (I think) pieces of music and part of the fun is working out if they chose a very rare Beethoven symphony because they love it or if secretly they wanted Genesis but were too embarrassed to admit to it. They also choose one luxury item (never ending wine, tea or ice cream? It's the eternal conundrum) and one - ONE - book in addition to the Bible and Collected Works of Shakespeare.

Now I like music well enough but to me that's the wrong way around. I'd find it hard enough to whittle my choices down to eight even with some sneaky 'Collected works of...' but one? Austen or LM Montgomery? Heyer or Mantel? Christie or Murakami? How could I choose? Let me have a solar powered kindle instead.

It amazes me when anyone says they don't enjoy reading; to me it is as important if not more so than breathing. The bags under my eyes are testament that I consider it more far important than sleeping. In my house it's not considered rude to read at the table and, no matter how frugal we are being, money spent on books is never wasted.

But it amazes me far, far more when authors say they don't have time to read. How can you be a writer if you're not a reader? If you're not in love with story and words and character? How can you grow as a writer if you don't see how others plot, note they how hook you in, get lost in their worlds?

Lat year I monitored my reading for the first time with the Goodreads reader challenge. I'm a very fast reader and a little obsessive *cough* so I thought I would probably average a book every two and a half days and challenged myself to 150 books. My final total, excluding crit work, was 220 - in part thanks to a Christmas week Anne of Green Gables fest when I ignored everyone and everything for four days until I wiped the last tear away, closed Rilla of Ingleside and reluctantly returned to twenty first century UK.

That's a lot of books, true. But the number isn't important. it's the doing that counts. Or as Stephen King puts it far more succinctly than  I ever could “If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”