To read or not to read

There are two types of people. Those who read and those who don’t read. I read. I LOVE reading. Reading is my absolute favourite thing. I love running and walking and fresh air, but I would probably even choose reading above all of that. I genuinely believe I could spend my whole life reading and never get bored or unhappy.

My husband is firmly in the other camp. He says he can’t think of anything more boring than reading. He says why not just watch telly? He’s happy enough to watch The Help, One Day, Birdsong and Call the Midwife with me and ask me what’s going on – because I’ve read them all.

I think if you find reading boring, you’re just reading the wrong thing. Because you can read about whatever interests you. Or you can be completely open-minded and try new things. Through fiction I have learned about Edwardian times, World War I, Botswana and American gang culture, among other things.

I will read anything – newspapers, magazines (I have a serious heat habit) and cereal packets, but most of all I just like books. I like biographies, but my favourite books are modern literature. I have read very few classics and I’m not ashamed of that. I am not a snob, I read for enjoyment, not to impress. I am easily taken in by lovely piles of newly-published books in the entrance to Waterstones.

I love meeting other readers and sharing opinions and recommendations. There are so many people who don’t read, and a few who read now and then without passion, and then there are people who read and love reading. Some people ‘look’ like readers, others surprise you. Kindred spirits are there in all walks of life.

People who really love reading don’t restrict themselves to one author or one genre – they are open-minded and willing to try new things. They are not frightened by the first few pages of a new book – they can’t wait to dive in and get to know the characters and deal with whatever the book throws at them – however traumatic.

About a year ago I was very excited to be contacted on Facebook by a couple of mums from school who had worked out that I was ‘one of them’. A reader. They were starting a book group. Would I like to join? Is the Pope Catholic? It was a dream come true. Reading books! And talking about them! With other people who love them! What could be better?

The book group has got off to a rather slow start. Two of us (yep, two) met in June last year, then three of them (I couldn’t make it) met towards the end of last year. We are meeting again tonight. My money is on four of us.

In between times there has been a fair amount of discussion and debate on facebook. Our reading list to date has been: One Day (David Nicholls), Room (Emma Donoghue), The Help (Kathryn Stockett) and Sister (Rosamund Lupton). You will be pleased (if you are a fellow reader) to know that we read One Day and The Help BEFORE the films came out. All of them have been brilliant in their own way and we’ve done what I like to do – switched genre.

Room remains my favourite book I’ve read in the last year or more. It split the book group down the middle. Some just found it too traumatic. Others couldn’t cope with the language it was written in. I loved the language – I always love to really ‘hear’ different voice – The Help is a great example of this too. And it wasn’t too traumatic because it all turned out OK in the end. And, even if it hadn’t, I wouldn’t have minded.

Away from the book group, I have just read two brilliant, but very traumatic books – Birdsong (Sebastian Faulks – I read it before I watched the TV programme) and Jamrach’s Menagerie (Carol Birch). They both had unbearable situations I was absolutely desperate for the characters to escape. I think I need something light and humorous now. I have a pile of unread books next to bed, but none of them quite seem to fit the bill.

Any recommendations, anyone?

Author: Sarah Mummy

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