“When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” G.K. Chesterton
I have always been a reader. Someone for whom reading is not just something to do when there’s nothing else but an activity deliberately chosen, squeezed into even the busiest days, accompanying me on even the most exotic holidays. Someone for whom picking up a book and becoming lost in another place or time is as natural as getting dressed in the morning. So being unable to read for several weeks had a distinctly unpleasant feel to it.
It’s not that I suddenly went blind (for if I did there would be my audio book collection) but rather that I allowed myself to become out of sorts with reading when I failed to enjoy (or even finish) a book from a favourite author (no more about that here, you can read about my grumpiness over here if you have a masochistic streak). In the wake of that I simply found myself unable to get my usual relaxation, escape or comfort from picking up a book (or turning on my iPod). And while I’m sure my reading withdrawal wasn’t quite as extreme as the experience of someone undergoing physical withdrawal from alcohol or another drug to which they are addicted it was noticeable to me and to those around me (causing a greater than usual crankiness on my part).
Last Friday I forced myself to start a new book by a new to me author by promising myself an end-of-week glass of wine only if I read for 30 minutes first. I’m not sure if it was the promise of a drink or the passing of time or the moon being back in the right quadrant for my particular biorhythms but it worked. I am, once again, a reader. And I am newly grateful for the return of my old friend.
The book I chose turned out to be an excellent new novel from Wendy James. It’s called THE MISTAKE and I’ve reviewed it at my other blog because Wendy is an Australian author. It’s a ripper read and I highly recommend it to all.
I’ve been on a bit of a kick since then, finishing the second book in Shamini Flint’s marvellous series featuring Inspector Singh of the Singapore police. In A BALI CONSPIRACY MOST FOUL the Inspector is sent to Bali in the wake of the 2002 bombings there which killed 38 local people and 164 of the tourists who have flocked to the island for years. The Inspector feels a bit superfluous as he doesn’t have any experience investigating terrorist activities but he becomes useful when one of the people originally thought to have died in the bombings is shown to have been killed before the bombs went off. Singh investigates this murder with the help of a brash Australian cop who has also been seconded. The book has just the right mix of gentle humour and sensitivity to set a fictional murder mystery against the backdrop of the all-too-real events and it is a great read.
My current print book is Peter May’s THE BLACKHOUSE which I have been itching to read since I saw this review at Petrona. I am a sucker for the remote island setting. I’m also back into audio books and listening to Anne Holt’s FEAR NOT which is one of the titles eligible for this year’s International Dagger for translated fiction. I have become a bit addicted to having translated books read to me as the narrators get all the people and place names right (which I am sure I never do).
I’m about a third of the way into both of these and thoroughly gripped. Just like in the good old days. In fact so thoroughly gripped that I’m going to wrap this up and go read. Very, very gratefully.