I started a new notebook a few weeks ago – a place to keep a record of things I’ve been reading. This came about because Rob, one of our new interns, asked me during intern induction week if I still had time to read. This question floored me because I feared the answer might be ‘no’. I think I answered ‘Mainly business books’.
(Business books – they are terrible aren’t they? I’d like recommendations for good ones. Are there any?)
I also told him that I had done a huge amount of reading over the past 30 years, and was carrying a lot of it with me. This is true, but it felt a fudge as the words came out of my mouth.
Of course, like any devoted reader with nearly 50 years reading behind them, I am carrying a patchy, ill-remembered copy of all my best books round in my head. Books that have shaped me, changed me, and in one or two cases, radically altered the course of my life. I can refer myself to them if need be e.g. to the opening of Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd, where you are standing alone on a hill at night and watching the progress of the universe…(blurry memory failure) and you know that ‘consciousness of this majestic speeding is derived from a tiny human frame’. (Check it against the book, will you? It’s bound to be wrong.)
But I knew as I said it it was not the right answer. After I’d slunk off from Intern Induction, I found myself thinking: I have that useful patchwork of stuff I love and depend on, but am I really still reading? The answer to Rob’s question needed to be ‘Yes! Every day! Loads of stuff. Especially new and old poems.’ Because however much you’ve got behind you, surely, you’ve got to make room for more ahead? And I had known for some time that I wasn’t doing that enough.
So… I thought, I’ll keep a record of what I do read, just so I know how bad the situation is. Hence the notebook. But entering up quotes and thoughts with pen and paper seemed laborious and slow, and because I’ve been enjoying Twitter during my Easter week off it came to me that I could record my reading on an occasional blog, publicise The Reader Organisation, say things that are more personal than if I was publishing a Reader Organisation blog (www.thereaderonline.co.uk) and have something to tweet about…
So this blog is going to be about what I read, what I think about what I read, what I want to read, and what I think of my own reading habits.
I just hope I have time to write it. And no fudge. Thanks, Rob.