The trick is to keep reading

…about all I can manage right now.


I’ve been unwell since Hogmanay, knocked flat by a nasty cold, which keeps warping into new variations. Today I can hardly speak, my voice all withered, but do have the energy to cough weakly and sneeze, great chains of sneezes when they come.


But anyway, this is not to complain, just to explain my absence. My lack of reviews (I had resolved to write more, but then, this), my hazy words right now. While staying inside and drinking hot toddies with D (who is also ill with the same bug), I’ve had plenty of time to watch films and TV shows, and to read.  You’ll see in the Endless Reads tab I’m continuing on into the new year. Last year I managed only 21 books (22, including Steve Himmer’s lovely ms, FRAM).


This year I’d like to do a bit better, but the truth is I’m never going to be a monstrous devourer of books – I’m too slow, for one thing. Most books I read take me at least two weeks. I’ve read a collection of short stories which took me far longer than that, Joanna Walsh’s beautiful Fractals. I gave each story a day or two, for the most part, to dissolve slowly in my head. For a while I went without reading any, when I was off in Banff. I hope to write about the collection for The Female Gaze as soon as I’m sharp.


Before Christmas I did eat up Deathless, by Catherynne M. Valente, and now feel the need to push it into the hands of every Angela Carter and dark fairytale loving friend. I’m not a fan of the word ‘masterful’ but that’s the right sort of word for it. Russian twentieth century life combined with folk tales and devilish forces, perfect for this time of the year, whether it is wind and rain raging outside, or soft, murderously thick snow.


And just the other day I finished The Falling Sky by Pippa Goldschmidt (which was fine) and The Trick is to Keep Breathing, by Janice Galloway, which was brilliant. Both grief-filled women, who can’t go on and will go on (to appropriate Beckett).  I’m sending the latter on to Emily Books in NYC, so see if they’d like it. Emily Gould is very kindly sending me Mary MacLane’s diary-novel-beast, I Await the Devil’s Coming, which I have been very keen to read since I heard of it. That’s definitely something I’d like to do more of in 2014 – book swaps.


I tried to think of a theme for this year – books only from small presses, or only from one country (I was going to cheat and go with Ireland, just for riches). Right now, I’m reading Matt Bell’s In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods, so how about books with long titles? Or maybe, with my slowness, I should pick only novellas, so as to artificial boost my numbers. I don’t really mind how few I read, only, that sometimes I feel a bit bad when I see people who have read over fifty in a year. I think, well what did I do with my time? Over a hundred and I’m just struck with a mix of awe and suspicion. Superhumans, or skimmers, either way, why compete? Write my own titles down, if nothing else but memorial, to trigger the where and the when, to be able in the end to look back on a year’s worth of reading.


The real outcome for me is likely to be haphazard picks like 2013, and 2012. Whatever comes to hand. Whatever I’m given, or choose to read or reread before sharing. I know I’d like a classic or two in there. Our flat is near a library I’ve shamefully neglected so far. But other than that aim, which may or may not get fulfilled I’m going to be happy, as long as – slowly or not – I just keep reading, endlessly.


If you’ve any goals, I would like to hear them though. And as always, recommendations for books, either published or un-, yet.



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4 responses to “The trick is to keep reading

  1. I hope your feeling better. That is the one upside (I guess) of being sick…catching up on books or movie/TV. Looking forward to your upcoming reviews.

  2. plethiproject

    If you are into the naturalistic (technically it’s called eco-crtical) turn in English writing then Towards Re-Enchantment: Place and its Meaning has been reprinted.

    It’s a series of essays/observations (pub: ARTEVENTS Eds Gareth Evans + Di Robson) by luminaries such as Kathleen Jamie, Robert Macfarlane, Robin Robertson, Lavinia Greenlaw, Richard Mabey, Jay Griffiths, Ken Warpole, Ian Sinclair, Jane Rendell, Elizabeth Bletsoe, Alice Oswald.

    I will try and review it myself!

    re: the dreaded lurgy – lots of Vitamin C and staying hydrated is the answer!

    Get well soon!

  3. I used to resolve to read at least 52 books every year, and generally I would reach 60 (sometimes reading into the last minutes of the year to finish a book). Lately, though my count has been about half that for a year. I think in part I seem to have less time for reading (because running and writing more), but I also think I’m reading more challenging books that require pondering and reviewing. I’d honestly rather have a handful of books well read than a box full of books quickly and superficially read.

    Sorry the two of you are not well.

  4. Wishes for quickly-restored health to you both.
    Book swaps; that’s an interesting idea…

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