What stops writers from reading as much as they’d like to?

I sat in on a really interesting conversation earlier this week between a group of well known writers, all talking about how they read, or why they don’t:

‘ I just can’t read, sitting at a desk. Unless I’m at a desk in a library…’
‘ I do take a book if I’m going on a bus or train journey.’
‘I still have this idea that it’s sinful to read a novel during the day.’
‘Me, too. I can only read in the day time if I’m doing a review.’

Two things struck me:

1) How odd it is that fiction writing is considered one of the most prestigious occupations, yet here are well known novelists who feel it’s illegitimate to read novels during the day!

2) Apart from guilty consciences, the biggest single block to these writers reading more is children and all the tasks associated with domestic/school life. (They were all women writers and I’d bet that father/writers have a different story to tell………..)

Personally, I rarely pick up a book for my own pleasure, until I have completed all my tasks. ( Except when I am on holiday.) And I rarely, if ever, get to the end of my various work/domestic lists. No wonder, then, that I usually don’t start reading until between eleven and twelve at night and that one night out of three, I am usually woken by the sound of the book slipping from my hands and scudding to the floor.

But there’s light at the end of the tunnel. We all listened with good humoured envy to one renowned author, her children all grown up and long gone from home, describe her daily routine, ‘ I get up every morning at seven, take a coffee back to bed and read for an hour’. She added merrily, ‘ I can even tackle quite difficult things because I feel at my most intelligent at that hour.’

That will be me one day, I thought. Probably in about a decade’s time….

One Response to What stops writers from reading as much as they’d like to?

  1. That’s me! Have always read LOADS including during the day and have been known to while away whole afternoons on the sofa with a novel. It’s much much easier when you’re in your sixties but I have memories of doing it even when I was young. Never known a moment’s guilt!

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