Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Reading List 2016

...has been cancelled.

It's March already, and I have failed to keep note of the books that I have read so far this year. I don't feel inclined to start now, or to stare, bewildered, at the bookshelves and wonder which things I read when.

And I feel a strange sense of relief at not keeping track. What started as a matter of interest for me became a source of stress once I decided to make it public.

I began to worry about what other people would make of my reading choices.

I started choosing what to read next based upon what other people might think.

I stopped gorging on one author for weeks on end in case people thought I was odd.

I feared that BrotherBear would look down upon anything that sounded dangerously like chick-lit. (He wouldn't, and even if he did... so what?)

I was anxious that my English-teaching cousin would condemn my failure to read Works of Great Literature. (She wouldn't, and even if she did... so what?)

I wondered whether my friends who are published authors would think my choice of reading matter was tediously mainstream and boring. (They wouldn't, and even if they did... so what?)

I chose books that I thought I "ought" to read, instead of books that I wanted to read.

I felt guilty if I didn't read "enough" books in one month.

In short, I found a way to make something that had been a whim to satisfy my own idle curiosity into a stressful endeavour in which I attempted to prove myself in some way worthy or good to other people, when reading is the one genuinely utterly solitary activity that I undertake. The one activity that really is absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with what other people think. My joy, pleasure and escape. My chance to immerse myself in a different world and a different life, just for a few hours at a time. And in 2016, that's what it's going to be again. If you want to know what I've been reading, what I've been enjoying, what I've discarded in disgust... ask away. Have a chat in the pub. Compare notes over tea and cake. But don't look for An Impressive List at the end of the year. There won't be one. Reading isn't about Impressive Lists.

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