Slowly Does It, Sometimes Less is More…

So something that I have been keeping a little bit of a secret recently is the fact that I have a new job, I actually started yesterday. This is all very exciting, partly as I genuinely didn’t think that I would get it. I am back at the company I worked with on the festival last summer and am part of the team setting the foundations for the next one; I will be working on the events and business tourism side which I am really excited about. So there has been lots of celebrating and even some fizzy pop opened and drunk in the Savidge Reads household over the last week or so. This all became a little more sober and sombre when I suddenly thought ‘oh ****, what about all my reading time?’

Once the initial palpitations stopped and I had calmed down I realised that actually I realised it wouldn’t be as bad as I thought because I have noticed that I naturally of late my reading, and indeed my reviewing have slowed down a lot and that I have been enjoying both more.

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I used to be in the very fortunate position of being a books pages editor for a magazine which meant that I worked from home and spent most of my days reading. Back then I could get through 130+ books a year without frazzling my brain. This is roughly two or three books a week. I was reviewing them and discussing them but do you know what I don’t think I was reading them and worse still I actually think I was abusing the power a book has and doing these books a disservice. I know this because someone asked me what I thought of X book I read a fair few years ago and I couldn’t remember a thing about it, my own blog post had to remind me. I was a mixture of shocked and saddened by this; I felt I had let the author and the book down. I understand that you will forget some reads naturally but when I went and looked at my ‘books read list’ for those years something became clear. I had become a reading and reviewing machine, not just a reader.

Since leaving London I have lessened the amount I read in part because freelance has been less and so I have had to work more even though it was part time. Then Gran was ill and my mind was too full while she was dying, so I read less again. I then got a full time job and naturally my reading and bookish freelancing stuff fit in with that, lessening over the summer when my work hours were bonkers and only really reading things for work, though I was lucky they were generally things I wanted to read anyway.

When I was back from America I thought ‘oooh I can read a book a day now for the next month or so’ and I started, within a few days I had stopped, it felt like work and not just for the fun of it and books were blending into one again the point Ali Smith makes in Artful popped back into my head “Books themselves take time, more time than most of us are used to giving them. Books demand time. Sometimes they take and demand more time than we’re ready or yet know how to grant them; they go at their own speed regardless of the cultural speed or slowness of their readers zeitgeists. Plus, they’re tangible pieces of time in our hands.”  I have also been reading marvellous books like The Narrow Road to the Deep South which if I had rushed an read in a day, as opposed to reading over the week I did, I think would have really lost something for me. Again, it would have been a disservice to the book, the writing and really me as a reader.

The same applies with blogging and reviewing, if I read and then reviewed a book every day, apart from lessening my reading time because of all the writing and thinking every review takes (currently three separate sessions) it would drive me mad. I am not sure what benefit this would have on the books? If I really want you to read a book wouldn’t it be better for me to review it and leave it there for a day or so, making sure that people have a gander rather than it getting swallowed up and lost in the mass?

I have made a very big decision since getting this job that for the length of the contract I am going to say a polite no thank you to freelance reviews anywhere else (unless I really want to read the book or Fiction Uncovered/the Man Booker/Baileys Prize or any other book prize phone me up), pop You Wrote The Book on hold for a while (I have recorded until Christmas, so will let it have some time off until spring) and just read as and when which titles take my fancy. I will also have a crazy target of only 52 books on GoodReads next year, I should bin that challenge off al together but I like to see what I have read each yet. Either way no rushing, just reading.

This has all really been a very long winded way of me saying that my reading, and naturally my blogging will be slowing down a bit, not masses but if I read and review two books a week that will keep me very happy. If I read more, thats a bonus, if I read less so be it – fortunately I have a backlog of about twelve book thought blog posts. I am hoping with the reviews that I do post and the chatty posts I interweave, as and when, you will find that less is actually more.

*Note I did not type this while at work but a few days before I started and scheduled it – just in case my new boss is reading this. Thank you.

19 Comments

Filed under Random Savidgeness

19 responses to “Slowly Does It, Sometimes Less is More…

  1. I think it comes in swings and roundabouts – sometimes you’ll read more, sometimes less, sometimes you’ll read better, sometimes you won’t absorb it as well. This year I am reading more than ever and being able to enjoy it – next year it may be a drag. I do like having my blog (and my master spreadsheet) to remind me though. What I’m trying to say is that when reading becomes a chore, it’s not fun any more – so do whatever it takes to keep it fun! 🙂

  2. kaggsysbookishramblings

    I think you have a good point or two here Simon – particularly about the pressure to read and then review at a rapid pace, and then get onto the next book on the pile. I have had a good week of reading from my shelves, not worrying about if there are any new books arriving and not feeling pressured and it’s made me enjoy what I’m reading so much. But like Annabel, I am starting rely on the blog to nudge my memory – but that’s because I’m older and have read a *lot* of books! :))

  3. kaggsysbookishramblings

    P.S. Good luck with the new job!

  4. Congratulations on your new job, Simon! Sounds like you’ve reached a healthy balance of reading and writing.

  5. Ann

    Congratulations on your new job! Reading is supposed to be fun – not work- so I totally understand your thinking.

  6. Awesome, thoughtful, insightful post!! Thanks for sharing, and good luck with the new job!

  7. Carol S

    Congratulations on your new job, sounds interesting and exciting and am sure will lead to much more of what you want to do. Agree re quality not quantity reading too. .

  8. Ha! I always worry my workplace will think I’ve done blogs at work, but I use the scheduling feature religiously.

    I’m with you, I’ve slowed down, but never was a book-a-day type person. When I finish a book I take some time to process and write about it then move on. It’s funny I was thinking 52 for my number next year and maybe trying to limit myself to 52 so I’d have a week to contemplate or re-read each book, but that might be too limiting. Decisions, decisions.

  9. Congrats on the new job! I say read and post when you can. Blogging and reading should be about enjoyment – a lesson I think us bloggers often forget with the promise of free books. Cheers!

  10. queenofthepark

    Brilliant news!
    You have prompted me as usual to reflect on my reading habits
    Always a good thing

  11. Kateg

    Congratulations on your new job! I do not blog, but write a little in a journal about every book I read which started when I started several books I had already read. Some books can be read quickly (Agatha Raisins, for example) and others slowly and savored ( The Sparrow, for example). A mix is good for my brain and soul. I would much rather read fewer thoughtful reviews from you rather than lose you and your blog. Reading gives me so much pleasure and I would be sad if constraints on your reading life took that pleasure from you.

  12. Lyn

    Congratulations on the new job, I hope you enjoy it. I agree with you about taking the time to read slowly, it’s something I struggle with. I work full time so don’t have the amount of reading time I would like to have & the pressure of the tbr shelves (totally self-inflicted) does overwhelm me sometimes. It’s good to have the time to just read slowly & savour a book. As you say, it shows respect to the writer & reading isn’t meant to be a race, is it?!

  13. Congrats on the new job! I’m glad you seem to have struck a nice work/life/reading balance🙂

  14. I’ve never been a professional reader/reviewer, but I’ve always been a bit envious of them. I know that it’s work, I know that it’s difficult, but I’ve always thought it would be a terrific way to make a living. The closest I’ve come to it is my little book blog.

    Which has also slowed down over the past year. I’m a much happier reader as a result.

    But I would still take a job as a reader/reviewer if someone out there wants to offer me one. 😉

  15. Good luck with the new job , my reading has been constant the last few years at about 130 books a year , my job is quite easy so have time at home

  16. Congrats on the job! And I know what you mean re reading more slowly. I did exactly that this year: made my Goodreads Challenge 52 books, whereas for the past 3 years I aimed for 100. I hit that mark a week or two ago but I’m still glad I did it, as it gave me the breathing space to take on some larger books and, as you say, properly take in the books I read rather than rushing through them.

    Hope the new job is going well!

  17. quinn

    Big Congrats Simon on new gig….and u just do whatever u want darlin’…!
    All your regular followers need would be a line from u on a bk saying ‘READ IT, LOVED IT’ and we would cause we know your good taste.
    Thanks to u and other grand bloggers i just hit 100 bks for first time, and it was easy cause i wasn’t trying but just had so many authors recommended by u all, that i was just in hog heaven…
    so wishing u happy reading…w/ a few snacks to break it up🙂
    Congrats again. quinn

  18. Pingback: Strange Horizons Book Club and a moment of reflection | Follow the Thread

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