It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness… Who ever thought I would be quoting Charles Dickens on this blog, yet here we are. In all seriousness though the last few weeks/months have felt a little bit like that. In going to America on my Readers adventure, heading to book festivals in Ilkley, Harwarden and Durham and then spending last weekend in London I have been having a gay old time left, right and centre, as it were. I am also really enjoying my new job and my new team. Yet all this has come at a slight cost in the terms of reading. When I say slight I mean epic, I have not read a whole book for over eight weeks the longest time since I gave up reading for 5 years in 1999.
Actually, that is a teeny weenie over exaggeration as I have read some books in full, just with big gaps in between meaning the reading of them felt somewhat disjointed. Yes folks, I was book juggling, that horrid state where several books seem to be all up in the air in your head at once as you read bits of one and then the other and another and go back and forth and around in circles. This was not helped by a secret project I was doing for a book prize, sifting their submissions before they went to judging panel back in late August and early September. I was book juggling with fire and I think I got somewhat burnt, even though it was ever so much fun reading for that prize and then reading for America and trying to read for festivals. But I think it got too much and the slump arrived.
Admittedly, this reading slump arrived without me noticing it – the sneaky thing. On arrival back from The Readers Roadtrip, I was unaware that I had not picked up a book for almost a week, probably because I had spent so much time talking about books. What I did notice was that being away from the buzz and shouting of Twitter, which I love but sometimes you hear the same books being shouted about or the same voices shouting, and that I felt the need to have a bit more calm. My desire for buying books hadn’t left me, I had bought twenty in the USA and then five more in Ilkley and more damage in Durham – yet the urge to sit and read wasn’t there, admittedly in the last two cases my trains were filled with stag and hen parties in both directions which wasn’t conducive to reading.
Yet whilst all this was going on I was still having many a wonderful chat about books (when not at work, though actually we are quite a booky lot at Culture so maybe that is slightly untrue) just not actually picking them up and reading them, then it seemed I couldn’t. I was talking all the book talk rather than actually fully participating. I had done so much dipping in and out and multi reading I just think I needed to stop and so for a week or so I avoided books, reading about them, talking about them, blogging (I know, I have been a quiet bookish bear) about them – the end. It was bliss… For a few days and then I got twitchy, then a bit grumpy, then full on edgy. Then I started to resent all the books in the world, let alone on my shelves, that I have yet to read and all the time that it might take to read them. Ouch, hard times (oh a second Dickens reference, I really am ill) and dire times indeed.
However in the last few days things have changed a little. Whilst in London at the end of last week and over the weekend three things happened that made a switch. Firstly I saw Nina Stibbe (who my boss who was with me is a huge fan of) talking about her book and other books at Stylist Live. Secondly, staying at my friend Catherine Hall’s she told me of a book that she had read and really loved and we chatted about some random books the other had never heard of. Thirdly, I went and had a massive wander around Foyles on Charing Cross Road and just mooched and looked at some books I had never heard of before… the bug was coming back slowly.
It then took and actual bug to break the book slump curse. As on Monday night I was felled by a stomach bug from hell and spent most of that night and 50% of yesterday being sick (the rest of the time I was trying to work from home at my kitchen table, dedication) and then today feeling rather delicate. At lunchtime I was feeling a bit woe is me and the like and so I settled down on the sofa with…
…A children’s book and I was hooked. All I needed was something simple, stunning and magical. Now it seems the sickness bug has gone and the book bug is back, which will hopefully mean the blogging bug is back to. Though I think I need a good cull this weekend to get me fully back on track, I have my sights on my unread books and the piles (and piles and piles) of books I have read and haven’t reviewed. Maybe a fresh start of sorts and a spring, well autumn, clean is called for? Anyway I am back, nice to be back in the bookish world with you all again.