I remember reading ‘The Baader-Meinhof Complex’ by Stefan Aust and wishing I could somehow speed things up. Of course, I wanted to enjoy every word and not miss anything, but the book was so damn heavy and unwieldy, I sometimes felt like I was preparing for battle, instead of settling down for a good read. It was two years before I finally finished it. Phew.
Which is one of the many reasons I finally got around to acquiring a Kindle. Oh, the joy!
Weighty tomes wasn’t the whole story, though – it often used to annoy me that everyone I knew seemed to be able to read quicker than me. For years I assumed I was a slow reader, but now I know what the problem was – I simply wasn’t reading often enough. Whenever I picked up the current book, it’d take me a while to get back into it, and the longer the time between each ‘fix’ the harder it became.
Now, I read every day – two or three times a day if I can – and the difference is palpable – my attention span is greater, I take in information more easily and I get more satisfaction out of it. Or maybe it’s just that I’m getting old.
Though I love my Kindle, I can’t give up ‘proper’ books – I love the smell, the feel of them, the different fonts and typefaces and (since most of those I buy are second-hand) the sheer ‘history’ of the things. Put another way, as Rogers and Hammerstein didn’t say, ‘There is Nothing Like a Bo-o-o-ok…’
So these days I have a pile of the physical entities by my bedside and a Kindle in my work bag. It’s amazing to think I used to while away my lunch breaks sitting at my desk surfing the Web and skimming through all the bad stuff that’s happening in the world. Now I read.
In the doctor’s or dentist’s waiting room I used to feel a little exposed if I was the only person there with a book in my hand, but if I read on my iPhone it’s fine (after all, I can pretend I’m surfing the Web, skimming through all the bad stuff…)
And amazingly, I’m getting through a lot more books. I don’t really know why I’m surprised at this, but notching up another literary tome on my figurative bedpost feels pretty good. And since I joined Goodreads, I’m actually writing reviews too! Mind you, they’re not great reviews. I’m not really a review sort of guy, but I’m sure they’ll take on a more substantial role as time goes on. Maybe they’ll even turn into stories or novellas in their own right, epic novels, whole series… Okay, I’ll stop now.
And as Stevie King says, if you want to be a writer, you have to do two things: read a lot and write a lot.