Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

My nose in a book

I’ve written quite regularly about losing my reading mojo over the last seven years or so. About once a year or so I bemoan the fact that I’ve lost my mojo, and that I have been way behind my Goodreads target. Every so often there’s a post claiming that I got it back, where I’ve read a couple of good books. The general trend though has been down! I reached a high of 45 books back in 2012. Last year I reached my all-time low of only 16 books (including audiobooks), barely scraping past 50% of my target of 30 books. It’s perhaps not surprising given other things that were going on in my life last year, and the fact that I was also participating in a daily blogging project for the entire year. Still, I could tell that I was struggling to read, and so this year set an achievable target of only 20.

But this year, as I mentioned here, I seem to have rediscovered my reading mojo. I enjoy listening to audiobooks when I walk (for exercise), though it takes quite a few kilometres/hours to get through a single book, and that means I get through several hours of a book per week. And I’ve been reading. A lot. (My target this year was 20 books. I’m already at 30.) Many years ago now, when I first stopped working full-time, I decided that I couldn’t read during the day or I would never get anything done. So reading was only permitted post 5 pm. I gradually got into the habit of not reading until after dinner, and then that slipped, and I almost forgot how to read.

But this winter I’ve been indulgent. I’ve looked forward to the weekends, as there have been a couple of Saturdays or Sundays (rainy days, of course) when I have curled up on the couch and read a book in a day. Saturday’s book was Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments, which I gobbled up. I’ve rediscovered the joy of a good book, of a story that captures me. I even read a paper book! I’ve stayed up late, reading. I’ve got out of bed late – I’ve been awake but reading. I’ve spent some days when I never even turned on my laptop. I need to sort and edit all my trip photos to make a new photobook (or two), but I’ve barely made a start. I wanted to review some parts of my photography course from 2018 and do the exercises that I missed in the second half of the year. As always, I need to spring clean my office, but it hasn’t been done or even started. My attention is elsewhere. My nose is in a book. Or more accurately, my iPad’s Overdrive (library) or Kindle app.

Reading, I am reminded, takes up a lot of time!

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I need to keep it short and sweet on today’s Microblog Monday, after my last post, which was not a microblog post, despite it being about Microblog Mondays.

I’ve broken away from my usual modern literature reading in the last month, to read some enjoyable and interesting non-fiction, including Hillary Clinton’s What Happened, Sheryl Sandberg’s Option B, and most recently, Sue Perkins’ Spectacles.

Some thoughts about aging, the first being the need to plan well in advance, and to make decisions before you think it is necessary, because by the time you need to have made some of these decisions, you’ll be much less capable of doing so.

Secondly, people often talk about maintaining dignity in old age, confusing it with pride, and implying that this is only possible when you are independent. However, I become more and more convinced that true dignity is being able to admit when you need help, and to accept that with grace.

The weather is warming nicely, and we’re all starting to be a bit hopeful that this year we might actually get a summer, after the disappointments of last year.

With spring well and truly here, with bright light earlier in the morning and later at night, the need for spring cleaning is becoming more and more obvious, and will need to be tackled soon.

I may not have cleaned, but I’m feeling quite smug that I only need to buy three more Christmas/birthday (thanks to my sister and a sister-in-law who both have birthdays on 20th December) presents before the end of the year.


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Learning to listen

I’ve always listened to the radio, and I download their podcasts when I miss interviews I wanted to hear, but I’ve never listened to audiobooks (as, to be honest, I feared they would send me to sleep), until a few months ago when I became frustrated when the third book in a four-book series I was reading wasn’t immediately available from my library. So I downloaded the audiobook from the library, thinking “I’ll give it a try,” as I plugged in my earphones and set off on a walk.

The person reading the book was completely wrong, sounding like a man in his 70s, old and wizened, when the main characters were all young people, and even the side characters wouldn’t have been older than their 50s; it felt so wrong that I could not continue, and I decided that maybe audiobooks were not for me.

Recently, though, I’ve been doing a lot of photo editing on my computer, which is time–consuming and visual, and so I thought that maybe I should try another audiobook. I opened my library app, and saw that they had recently acquired Lady in the Van by Alan Bennett, fully produced for radio by the BBC, and so I downloaded it and began listening straight away. I loved it, tried another – this time it was Option B by Sheryl Sandberg – that didn’t have the same high production values as the BBC book, but was simply the voice of a woman who sounded about the age of Sheryl Sandberg, and so made sense.

I’m now on my fourth audio book – 4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and narrated by the author – and I’m enjoying that too.

So now, when I have some simple tasks to do, I’m listening to audiobooks, because otherwise I feel that I don’t get around to actually reading enough books, and I have four hundred on my to-read list, and really, really don’t want to miss out on them.

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