Reading is my escape. It has been for as long as I can really remember.
OK, so ‘escape’ might lead you to think that I have things that I need to escape from, but that’s rarely been the case. I had a good childhood, I wasn’t seeking solace in my books. But I was disappearing into worlds far away from my home, I was surrounding myself with characters that I still know and love to this day and I was journeying away from my everyday life.
Do you know Cathy and Chris Dollanganger? Rupert Campbell-Black? Mr Darcy and Elizabeth? And if you’re of a certain age, and I say Ralph? I knew them all as a teen.
I read as a child, as a teen and now as an adult. I must have read hundreds upon hundreds of books and so many of them stay with me. I carry the stories and characters with me, from the easy romance reads to the dark horrors, they all have their place with me.
I suppose it is more accurate to say that reading is my off-switch. Reading helps me to relax and completely unwind. I’ve shared a dozen reasons to read before, and I could probably list another dozen and then another. I cannot imagine my life without books.
Bookshops are my happy place, spending the day browsing second hand bookstores is my idea of heaven (especially if there’s a cake stop thrown in) and I always have a book wish list on the go. It grows regularly. Just like my to be read pile. That rarely drops to any number lower than forty or fifty books. I read regularly, yet that pile does not seem to shrink, as every couple of weeks I manage to acquire more. And I do say acquire because the lovely thing about being a reader is that people pass their books on to you regularly. I might buy a couple, borrow a few from the library and then my mum will pop round with another two or three that she’s read recently. Books seem to multiply frequently in book-loving households, which makes me very happy.
Then when those times do roll around, the harder times, I turn to books. Reading is always my go-to escape when I really do want to escape. When grief swamps me, when I am struggling with reality or times like now when I need to just stop thinking, stop those cogs from turning. I read.
At the moment I am making myself read. I am reading a book that has drawn me in, I do want to read it, but it’s not really lifting my spirits. Does that make sense? If you’re a reader, can you relate? It’s a good book, no doubt about it, but maybe I just need a lighter book at the moment, a happier book. I might whizz through it and then shift over to re-reading some of my favourite books for a while. It’s comforting and it’s easy, like a good old romantic comedy film or a big bowl of ice cream. Two things that I have also been indulging in lately, funnily enough.
As I write this, my mind is making a mental list of all of those characters that I think I’ll revisit over the coming weeks, all of the adventures I will go on again with them. I also have an eye on my, let’s be honest, substantial to be read pile and I might just grab a few of those in between my comforting trips down memory lane.
I will be here, reading, reading my way through these strange and uncertain times, because reading has always been my escape.
How about you, are you reading? Does reading help you to switch off? And do you know what I mean about comfort reads?
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