I have a confession to make, Bookaholics: there was a time I was quite excited about lockdown. Behind my outgoing, extrovert exterior, I can be surprisingly anti-social (just ask anyone who has ever talked to me before 10am) and count sleeping, slumping and sluggary as 3 of my favourite hobbies. 3 weeks of hardly leaving the house sounded like heaven and I had visions of being refreshingly relaxed, having time to finally clear my chaotic closet and (most importantly) bathing in bookaholic bliss on a daily basis. Truth is it hasn’t quite worked out as planned. Not only do I seem to be permanently exhausted, I am too scared to open my wardrobe in case I am buried beneath an avalanche of outfits and I don’t seem to be reading much more than normal. But rather than beating myself up for my wanton waste of time, I want to share with you my top tips for keeping your reading varied and exciting over the next few weeks, in the hope it also inspires me to up my game. So here goes:
1) Ask your loved ones what their favourite books are and give them a go. In addition to the fact you may just discover a new author you enjoy, you will also gain a fascinating insight into what makes that person tick. Admittedly my own attempts at this have thus far been abortive: I ordered A Tale of Two Cities because my mum loves it, only to realise I had already read it (I really am getting old) and when I tried to source Moonfleet (pretty much the only book my dad read in his first 60 years on the planet) the cheapest copy I could find was £14. I love you dad, but I could buy at least 4 other books for that amount of money. It’s just not happening.
2) Take inspiration from programmes you watch on television. Following a moving documentary on the Holocaust, I ordered Necropolis by Boris Pahor, a deeply disturbing and incredibly moving memoir of his time in the concentration camps. Of course your own choices may not be quite so bleak – lots of tv shows are based on books or have tomes accompanying them. Even some of the TOWIE cast have apparently produced their own riveting reads based on that most infamous of home counties. Purchasing these is, however, only acceptable if you narrate the entire book in your best Essex accent – in the same way I read the whole of Trainspotting in Ewan McGregor’s voice. (In fairness, it was the only way I could make any sense of it whatsoever).
3) Join an online book club. For Christmas my sister gave me a subscription to the Rare Birds Book Club, which I highly recommend. Each month they send me a brief description of 2 books without giving the titles and I choose which I want to read. So far every single pick has been brilliant (the highlights being Where the Crawdads Sing and Girl, Woman, Other) and this month’s choice is also proving un-put-downable. You can then discuss your thoughts online with other members. It’s a great way to broaden your literary horizons and chat to like-minded strangers whilst simultanouesly escaping from corona-craziness.
4) Create a blog and set yourself up as a book reviewer. I prevaricated for ages about publishing my ramblings but am so glad I did – 2 years in and my only regret is not having started sooner. In the last few weeks I have been lucky enough to receive 2 books from authors keen for me to publish my views on their novels. Whilst the primary benefit of this is free books (yes, I said free books!) I am also hoping this will open me up to new genres I would never usually choose to read. Then I can truly wear the “bookaholic” badge with pride. (I might even make a literal badge. You know. After I have cleared my wardrobe).
Given the trouble I am having sleeping at the moment, I should be able to fit in more book time and this is my primary goal for the next 7 days. My own “to read” pile is alamingly high and is crying out for attention. And I will start – immediately. Or at least as soon as I have had a quick nap…