Okay, I get it. You’re sat there thinking Laura, what the hell is the big deal about, so you read a book. WAHOO. BIG WHOOP. HAVE A CRACKER AND A PAT ON THE BACK [heavy sarcasm, dripping in sarcasm]. I didn’t just read one book though reader, I’m currently on my second.
I know it doesn’t seem like a big thing to be proud of but allow me to explain this small victory-
When I was a child I devoured books. From a very early age books were the most precious present you could give me. I read so much, even at the age of six or seven I was trying to stay up past bed time reading under the covers.
Reading brought me a joy like nothing else.
I did a library reading challenge that should have taken four weeks in one and a half, riding up there everyday to return books and take new ones out. My first year at high school I spent every ounce of spare time in either the library or reading in the corridors (and of course the animal shelter). I read on the bus too. I stayed up late to read, way past bedtime. As I got older I carried on reading, but something changed. Almost like my enjoyment of books changed.
I suddenly craved the busy world of a novel and to be a part of it. I would become obsessed with whichever I’d read and draw out the feeling with music I associated with the novel or by imagining continously various scenarios from in the books. I still read but reading was a different experience. It was intense, something I never found scary though, but it was intense. I think I felt at home, I think I felt a part of something in those books. Even just as a casual observer I used to surround myself with whatever world had been presented by the author. Harry Potter was of course a massive part of it. I read the books over and over again and spent days, weeks, months daydreaming about what would have happened if I were at Hogwarts, day dreaming about being part of the Order. About being part of a group composed of such solid and iron clad friendships.
Slowly though, I stopped reading so much. It wasn’t because I didn’t still love it. It wasn’t because I didn’t want to involve myself in any of those worlds. It’s because all of a sudden I couldn’t finish a novel. I would put a book down at the point I was most enjoying it and never pick it up again.
Maybe it was a fear of the feeling I got from reading ending after the book was over.
More so I think though, it was the thoughts that began to enter my head every time I started to try and read. Thoughts that I should be doing something else. That I should be doing something more worthwhile. I had messages to reply to, stories to write, things to clean. things to watch. I shouldn’t be spending that time on myself. I should be doing something else, anything else. So I wouldn’t read or pick up the book. I would listen to those thoughts and I would clean or I would sit and stare blankly at the computer screen, watch mindless telly that I wasn’t really interested in. All whilst thinking about how much I wanted to read.
It seems ludicrous. I imagine to anyone who doesn’t have these intrusive thoughts and the gut wrenching anxiety that comes with it. It probably sounds ridiculous that I couldn’t pick up a book and just read.
Reading was one thing but buying was a whole other thing. The voices were there always waiting with an excuse for me not to buy the book I’d had in my hand for fifteen minutes. You probably won’t like it anyway. What if you hate it? What if it’s terrible and it doesn’t suck you in? The covers all wrong. Do you really need it? Do you really need to spend that money on yourself? You shouldn’t be spending that money on yourself. And then would come the guilt.
So many books I picked up and put down. Because those little nagging voices in my head told me that I should be cautious. Where once I would dip my toes into the waters of a whole host of new fantasy worlds, suddenly my brain was acting like every book I picked up was a dark alley that I shouldn’t wander down.
I think the last two or three years have been the worst though, when I found it a struggle to even get through Harry Potter and considering what a Potterhead I am that was hard. I still somehow managed to find it in the darker times but it was still hard to get through. I started multiple books and just put them down, afraid that whatever they were making me feel would only last to the end of the book, or worse that it would spiral into another obsession that would end in some form of disappointment.
I got through maybe one or two novels in this time.
I started Graphic novels and they seemed to be fairing well for me. They were quick to read and beautiful, works of art I could hold in my hands, they were short though and I read them in half an hour. I read the Gotham novel, not for the pleasure of reading but to learn as much as I could about Harvey Bullock. I enjoyed the novel of course but it was safe and secure and it was a world I already knew like the back of my hand.
On Saturday 25th February 2017 I was in Tesco shopping and I decided to take a look around the books. They were on 2 for £7. I stood for a good few minutes picking things up and putting them back down. The voices started to creep back in but this time I seemed to make a compromise with them. I will flick to the middle of the book and read a page. If I’m intrigued I get to buy them. That voice in the back of my head obviously believed this was going to be an easy win. It was wrong though. I was taken by both of them immediately.
Of course then came the nagging feeling that I shouldn’t be buying them, that I shouldn’t be allowing myself to buy them. Every reason not to nagged at me but I didn’t listen. I bought them both.
Sunday, after agonising for an age over all the things I could be doing instead of reading, I finally reasoned with myself that agonising over that fact was wasting time and in that time I could have just been reading. I pulled on my big girl knickers, and with trepidation and anxiety I dived in. One chapter passed and then another and another and by Tuesday/Wednesday I’d finished the first one and the next morning on the tram I started the next one.
I’m about half way through it.
And Saturday I’m going to buy more books and I’m going to devour them too.