READING, MOTHS AND WISTERIA …

I am currently judging a book prize that unsurprisingly involves reading a great many books. In fact I haven’t read this much since I did my History Finals – ten exams in five days and the whole of my degree resting on it. That was over thirty years ago and my most common recurring nightmare ever since has involved exams. For obvious reasons, I am not going to mention authors or titles at this stage but I thought you might like this snippet from my domestic life, the odd exchange between me and my other half (OH) as I started reading for the prize. Of course you would.

DAY ONE: Me: (ranting) When did books get so thick? I mean over 2 inches thick! Is this a new thing. Why haven’t I noticed? Do I never read long books because I don’t like writing them? Some of these are absolute whoppers! Do editors not exist anymore? OH: Get a grip and take some Rescue Remedy.

DAY SEVEN: OH: There’s more to life than books, you know. Me: Mmm?

DAY TEN: OH: (as another box of books arrives) Actually, I’m beginning to feel sorry for you.

DAY ELEVEN: Me: This one’s very good. OH: Well, thank God for that.

DAY THIRTEEN: Me: (looking at pile of books under the TV) to OH in wild panic. I’m never ever going to get through them all.

DAY FOURTEEN: OH: Are you regretting saying you’d do it? I might be if I were you. Me: This one is a bit bonkers but I think in a good way. Half an hour passes. Maybe, actually, in a bad way.

DAY FIFTEEN: Unfortunately a huge cloud of moths flies out from under the chair I am sitting in just as my partner walks into the room. OH: Do you see the moths there fluttering all around you? You’ve been sitting still so long reading you’re hatching moths! Me: No, no it’s because this package, that you might have thought was filled with a book, is actually filled with those moth-killing-sticky-pads. Look, here at my feet. They can smell the pheromones. I am not hatching moths because I have been sitting here for such a long time reading. No, I am not.

DAY SEVENTEEN: Me to OH: I cannot read more than four books in a week. That’s it. If one is a fat one then I can only manage three. OH: Can’t you cheat? Me: No.

DAY TWENTY-ONE: Me to OH I am never going to give a character of mine green eyes and I am never going to describe a character as having black eyes. Never, never, never… OH: Didn’t Sam (the protagonist in my crime novels) have green eyes? Me: Did she?OH: Whatever. Those moth pads aren’t working.

DAY TWENTY-EIGHT: I realise I have a very low tolerance for descriptions of landscape and also buildings. I wonder if I have ever described a building in any of my books or even a field, if it comes to that. I realise that my vocabulary for writing about buildings is extremely limited and become slightly fixated on it. Me to OH (on the bus heading in to town) Look at that building over there. That bit. The bit that slopes. How would you describe it? OH: It’s a roof! And whatever this is, from my point of view it does not count as conversation.

DAY THIRTY: Me: I need paragraphs. I cannot read a book without any indentations. I feel as if I’m being forced to read Henry James. No paragraphs mean no hope. OH: Is this the prima donna phase? You’re talking gibberish again. Go for a walk. The wisteria is out in the park. Go for a walk now. NOW.

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When I return there is a large pile of boxes in the hall. OH: (kicking them lightly) More books came while you away. Me: Oh God. OH. But have you seen the sticky moth pad things? They’re absolutely covered. Me: Wow!

Current state of affairs: Total number to read: 86. Number read: 31. Number of moth deaths: 112. Two months to go.

So here’s the question. How quickly do you read? How many books do you read in a week? Just asking for a friend.

 

 

 

 

10 thoughts on “READING, MOTHS AND WISTERIA …

  1. I can’t imagine having to do all that reading – reading is all about choice, being able to put it down if it doesn’t suit and pick up another before returning to the original. Having to do anything never worked for me (as my school exam results clearly show). So bravo to you. BTW thos moth pad thingies – a vet friend told me not to use them because they not only attract the pesky moths in your home but all the pesky moths for miles around… I’m a coupla-books-a-month guy and that’s enough.😒

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    • Reading does take on a different quality when there is so much of it to do. Before this I was probably a couple of books a month although that didn’t include books I was reading for research purposes. Thanks for the advice on the moths!

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  2. Sounds intense Victoria! Thank goodness for the wisteria 🙂

    I also have a moth problem so I can sympathise. I don’t even know what they’re eating, there’s no holes in anything! The pheromone stuff is working for me too, although I hate killing things.

    I think I’m a pretty fast reader but some bloggers seem to get through a phenomenal amount of reading! I work full time, so I fit my reading round that – average sized books, about 3 a week, real whoppers I’d only manage 2. You’re nearly halfway there 🙂

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    • Hi Madame Bibi – it is intense! I’ve not read like this for a very long time. You’re really fast. Before this I was probably reading a couple of books a month not counting what I was reading for research purposes. The thing is it is a real joy when you hit one that is fantastic. Out of 31 read I’ve got 5 which I love so that’s not bad going. The wisteria worked very well I love it! Do you think books are getting longer? I can’t believe the length of some of the ones I’m reading.

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    • Rebellion does creep in! It is certainly not reading for pleasure but I have come across some I really love so that’s great. It’s interesting how some do really stand out from the crowd when you’re reading them back to back so to speak.

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  3. Hatching moths! I absolutely love it!
    To be honest, I don’t remotely know how you are doing this. It would be my idea of hell. Do you remember when we were baby artists and did the whole of The Artist’s Way together? When we got to the week where you are not allowed to read anything, you nearly collapsed and of course it didn’t bother me at all.
    To answer your questions, I rarely read fiction except on holiday and picked at random from the airport and of course the books written by the oh, so many writer friends I seem to have (!). I love information and so I love non-fiction, but even then I don’t think I read the entire book.
    So carry on the good work, Carruthers! I am in total admiration. And I look forward to see how it all progresses.

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  4. Books are definitely getting longer and not in a good way usually. Top tip – skim all the boring bits – you’ll find a) you read five times as quickly (yes, there are that many boring bits in most overpadded contemporary fiction) and b) you enjoy them five times as much. This is a scientifically proven fact. You will know that if you have to skim too much, the book is not worthy of a prize. As soon as you know that you won’t be recommending a book for the shortlist: abandon it!! You can always go back and read any that mildly interested you later if you have time. I read an average of two and a half a week – i.e., I probably read two and skim half…

    I’m now going to curl up in a ball and quiver for a while over the thought of those moths…

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    • Thank you FF – excellent advice. Yes, the skipping thing. I am really not good at all with long descriptions of landscape or sea or battles. I am very happy to be inside characters heads and oh so happy to read dialogue. Character heavy books I definitely favour. Two and a half a week sounds quite a lot actually. The whoppers are a bit dispiriting.

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