Saturday, 3 January 2015

Post Number Six: KarenMartinReads Review of 2014

My facebook post from Penguin  heralded a flurry of comments that have got me thinking.  I read 34 books in 2013, 30 in 2012 and 34 in 27 as my grand total for 2014 seems a little paltry.  However, it transpires I still manage to imbibe more texts than my fb friends.  Some cite time as an issue, others that they are "rubbish" at reading. So  I am going to use this post to try to inspire a little more reading in 2015.

Reading is indulgent. It is, by its very nature, individual, and if you are anything like me, when immersed in a book, you don't even hear conversations around you. My Dad used to tell me off for being rude when, in fact, I had no idea that anyone had even been attempting to reach across the fictional world I was happily inhabiting and drag me back to reality!

So reading has therefore to be escapism. For a few short hours, you can be more interested in someone else's life than your own.  But it is more than that.  You are not a voyeur as a reader, you are an empathiser.  You become part of the fabric of the story.

Whilst reading may be viewed as intrinsically  antisocial, the reviews, debates and discussions that reading sparks are clearly not.  Reading can bring you into conversation with someone whom you may before have regarded as having little in common with you.

Heathcliff by oh-marvelous-things at
Reading raises the emotional tempo.  I'll never forget a former colleague being totally crushed by a student's re-working of the end of Wuthering Heights. For me, it was a brilliant re-working, improving on the original by providing insight into Heathcliff's viewpoint, retelling the final days of the novel through his eyes.

For him, however it was a sacrilegious act that threatened to spoil the reverence and regard for Charlotte Bronte's creation. And this did indeed, spark lively comment and debate which we fondly re-open at regular intervals!

The time problem is a sticky one.  We make time for what we need to do, but often sacrifice what we want to do. For me, life without books is a poor one. When first married, I felt that I had to ask permission to "disappear" into a novel, fully knowing that the act of reading removes me from the world.  I quickly learnt however, that I am a nicer person if I allow myself time to be just me.  That involves reading.  So, even in the midst of nappies, in the interminable hours of marking, in the conflicting demands of work, family, faith and life, I ensured that I ended each day with a book. No matter how late I fold into the duvet, I read.  Sometimes my heavy lids only permit me a couple of pages, but I never stop reading.

Now that my work is part-time and my eldest child has flown off to University, I am trying to give myself at least an hour of curl-up-in-the-chair-in-daylight time at the weekends.  Do I always succeed? No, but I do love it when I do!  Loving husband sent me in the lounge to read in the post- Christmas zone, whilst he made dinner.  Indulgence.

I recognise that piecemeal reading of a few pages or the odd chapter here and there can ruin the coherence of a story. But it teases you and gives you a taster of what you've been missing.  Reading gives your imagination a reign that no other medium provides.  You have to fill in the blanks, you have to dress the protagonist and imagine his environment.  This is why film adaptations are often disappointing.  And whilst I am a fan of the Harry Potter Warner Brothers franchise, it is with some sadness that my picture of Harry has forever been turned into Daniel Radcliffe...

And for those of you who think you're rubbish at reading....firstly well done for getting down this far of my post! And secondly, don't condemn yourself to a lifetime without books.  Read reviews, find a genre you like and start there.  Don't be intimidated by feeling you have to read the classics or the modern classics.  read what is out there for you.  My reading list is very varied, you can probably see that just from my first few posts, and there is no shame in easy reading!


When I met my husband, he confessed that he had read very little since he had stopped having to read for school. He wasn't averse to the notion but he had never developed the habit.  I introduced him to some new reading ideas, and despite my encouragement into reading, he certainly hasn't just followed my tastes.  His reading preferences are definitely his own!

See if you can make 2015 a year to develop your own tastes.  There are so many worlds out there for you to inhabit.

This started off as an intention to review the books I had actually read in 2014; it seems to have become a new year's resolution and, hopefully, encouragement to you all.

Stay with me for reviews of the 27 of 2014, coming up next.

Happy New Year to you all.

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