It may not seem like a great achievement, what with me being an English graduate and all, but I have just finished reading a book. A novel in fact. A whole one, from beginning to end. It took about two weeks, on my twice a week commute and in little snatches before bed. It was the first novel I have read since having my baby over a year ago and yes, I am pleased with myself.
What is it that stopped me, an avid reader, from reading? Time, yes - I have had a glut of it but it’s not the right kind of time. Concentration, also yes – I have had a deficit of it. But it’s been more than that I think. Novels deal with big questions. Of life and death and roots and families and aspirations and declines and parallel worlds and alternate universes, of friendships and relationships and enemies, and of mysteries and revelations and truths and lies. I just wasn’t ready.
Then two weeks ago I felt the urge. I took a book from our shelves determined to read it. It was Andrea Levy’s Fruit of the Lemon. I knew I had enjoyed Small Island by the same author several years ago, that she was the right kind of author for my return to reading, combining big issues with accessible writing, kind of intellectual holiday reading. I didn’t know that it referred in part to Crouch End, the small part of north London I hang out in with the baby – so much for being an escape – but that aside I enjoyed it. It wasn’t a masterpiece but that was a relief – I wasn’t ready for a masterpiece, but as novels go, it was pretty solid. But the best thing about it? It’s given me the hunger. I’m not sure what to read yet but I’m ready (or should that be read-y). I’m looking at the shelves as I type and all I can think is ‘bring it on’. It’s so exciting.
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