Thoughts on Reading

When I was a child, reading served as a kind of escapism. I didn’t have many friends and wasn’t inspired by my surroundings ; the library was my favourite place to escape to. I’d check out the maximum ten books, sometimes twice a week, and often read 2-3 at the same time; attempting to devour their content as quickly as possible.

As a child, I would read anything. I loved all the series that other ‘90’s kids will remember: Point Horror, Sweet Valley, The Babysitters Club. Noel Streatfeild, Judy Blume and Enid Blyton lined my shelves. I loved mysteries, ghost stories and fairytales. I would also pick up cheesy romances and anything to do with World War Two and evacuees. There are probably hundreds of books that I’ve completely forgotten. 

As I grew older, I stopped reading. I’d occasionally pick up a book, and carted around a couple of novels as I continuously moved house, but I very rarely found myself with a book in my hands. It was only fairly recently that I actively started to make time to read, and only last year that I decided to dedicate more time to something that I have always enjoyed - but haven’t always found the time for.

I don’t think that you can be a writer without first being a reader. Where else do you look for inspiration and widen your vocabulary than in the pages of your favourite books? Even if you don’t want to write fiction, regularly reading anything from novels to magazine articles helps to keep your brain active and inspired. When I finish a book that I have devoured or read an article that excites me, I immediately want to open my laptop and start writing. Nothing inspires me more than the written word.

Visiting the library as a young girl, I loved escaping into the other worlds of the books that I read. I spent my childhood dreaming of creating my own worlds and writing my own stories, but somehow got lost along the way. If I could go back and speak to teenage me, it would be to let her know that she could pursue writing as a job, to make relevant choices of what to study at college & university, and to continue to read as much as possible.

Recently, someone accused me on Instagram of contradicting my slow living philosophy by talking about my reading target for the year. I want to read 75 books this year, and have already read 17. To me, this target isn’t about implying that we should all be faster readers or that reading is some sort of competition - that target is there to encourage me to pick up books rather than watching Netflix or mindlessly scrolling on my phone, and to encourage other people to do the same. It’s to remind me to read on the train and before bed, and sometimes in the middle of the day if I want to. I want to write more about books and share my recommendations. I want to be a better writer. And reading more books will help me with all of this.

Reading, for me, is still escapism but is also inspiration. I honestly don’t think I would have the achievements and aspirations that I have if I wasn’t a reader. To continue to grow as a reader and in my writing, I’m branching out from my usual reads and trying new things. I’m reading more literary fiction, more from independent publishers, and more short stories. I’m trying to read more from writers from different ethnic backgrounds, and I’m planning on reading more books by men/about men, as I’m aware that 95% of my book shelves are populated by female authors writing about female characters. As reading is such a huge part of my life, I’m planning on talking more about books on both my blog and my Instagram Stories. I’d love to start more conversations about reading and the books that we read, so please leave me a message in the comments. Happy reading!

To conclude this blog post, I want to share my favourite reads of this year so far. I’d love to hear any recommendations that you have in the comments.

Mr Salary by Sally Rooney (short story)

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

Something like Breathing by Angela Readman

Sealed by Naomi Booth

The Last by Hanne Jameson

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson

Treats by Lara Williams (short stories collection)

The Burning by Laura Bates

The Summer Book by Tove Jansson