I reckon I must spend at least half of my waking hours reading. I browse magazines and magazines over breakfast. My evening “leisure time” is spent online, reading and writing (which still counts, because I read what I’m writing as I write it). I keep a loaded Kindle in my handbag to fill in waiting time (at appointments, on public transport, sitting in the car while kids are doing whatever after school activity I’ve just driven them to). Often, the book I’m reading on my Kindle is one I’ve promised to review or to consider for publication, or is written by a friend or acquaintance. Even my day job revolves around improving the literacy skills of struggling Grade One readers. I read to learn and to teach, to review and to judge, to support others and to occupy idle moments.
Somewhere along the line I forgot to have fun.
Recently, at my husband’s suggestion (he’d read somewhere that it’s bad for you to go straight to bed from staring at a computer or TV screen; it makes it much harder to get to sleep), I changed my night time routine. Now, instead of switching off the computer and going to bed, I take 20 to 30 minutes away from the screen to read a book. Not just any book, though – although it wasn’t a conscious choice at first, I found the experience immensely more satisfying if it was an actual, physical, made-out-of-trees book. My subconscious laid down one other rule; it had to be a book I was reading purely for pleasure.
Right now I’m three quarters of the way through NOS4RTU by Joe Hill, a novel I have been looking forward to reading since I heard the author read an excerpt from the then-WIP in 2011. Every night I step away from the screen and fling myself onto whatever soft surface in whichever quiet room is available, and crack open the book’s pages with a sigh of pure, self-indulgent enjoyment. It’s like biting into a fresh, fragrant clingstone peach; it’s a happy co-incidence that such pleasure can be wrapped up in something so good for you.
Almost forgot…yes, I am sleeping better, too.
(The above image will probably make my mother laugh – I actually did read books like this when I was a kid.)