That time of year…

November 1, 2015

I’ve noticed, over the years, how my reading goes in cycles. I’ve kept a reading log ever since I was a student – I just note down the date I finish reading a book, and usually also pencil this date into the back of the book itself, if it’s mine. So I can see that I generally read less in summer, except when I’m away from home on holiday, becasue there are lots of outdoor activities that call for my attention. Conversely, as the grimmer weather sets in with the onset of autumn and the approach of winter, I find myself reading more, trying to catch up with the pile of books I have accumulated from my travels. Being cosily curled up on the sofa with a good read, possibly a beer, and some good music in the background, is pretty close to my idea of bliss, at least for that time of year.

Then there’s being ill – usually a winter thing, although with the flu jab, and being retired so not in contact with all the bugs in school, not so frequent as it was – when I lie in bed and devour books for hours on end, usually what I call ‘lighter reading’. That means re-reading old favourites, especially science fiction and detective novels, which demand a little less concentration in most cases.

I suffer mildly from SAD and so, during the winter months spend half an hour a day sitting in front of a light box. I use this as an opportunity to turn over the pages of many large books – some might call them coffee-table books – which are not really intended to be read cover-to-cover, but browsed through and pondered over. They are often books of art and photography, an aspect of my reading that doesn’t always get the time and attention I’d like to give it.

There are times when reading slows down a lot, for what reason I can’t fathom. I will have a book on the go, but it won’t be compelling and I’ll not read very much of it at a sitting, or settle down with it very often: I’ll find other things to do like surfing the net, or crosswords; I’ll feel mildly bored. Or I won’t actually be able to decide what I want to read, and will have several books beside me, unable to decide which to start… at such a time it’s a comfort to have magazines to read: there’s usually a couple of months of National Geographic or Le Monde Diplomatique waiting to be caught up with. This makes me think that sometimes, after a lot of serious reading, my mind needs a chance to defragment, a bit like the computer…

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