There are really only two seasons in regards to reading habits; hot and cold. I’m lumping spring and summer together in the same way as I am autumn and winter, as I don’t know about you, but do you consider your preference change between October and December, or May and July for example?
It’s funny that it is always considered that in the colder months, we hunker down on the sofa, log fire blazing, soup nearby and read heavier books. These can be heavy in size or in content. I mean things like crime stories, world war, factual books. In the warmer months suddenly we throw on shorts and a t’shirt, plonk on the fake tan and the flip flops and sit in the sun reading light holiday romance books.
But let me ask you a question – is this you?
It used to be me, but lately I’ve found this has all changed. Now I spend my winters enjoying the lighter stuff. I imagine myself in a villa in Italy say, or by the sea in Greece. I basically want the complete opposite of what I’ve got!
This spring/summer I’ve just come back from Rome, and it was great, it was, only there were too many ruins and churches. In the end to be honest, I lost seeing the true beauty of the intricate detail in the churches and my imagination got on the bus, away from another set of ruins I had to imagine used to be a government building or a thermal spa. No offence to Rome, it’s a lovely city and having done most of the main ones in Italy, it was time I got round to Rome. The weather was so hot, it meant sitting on my roof top terrace without shade, was only something I could do for around an hour before I melted. Unfortunately no swimming pool!
But one of the perks of coming in and having a break from the heat was reading. We are so lucky to have so many fantastic books out there, just waiting for us to pick them up. Normally I find some good ones, but they are mingled in with plenty of not so good ones. I don’t know about you, but if I’m not getting on with a book I know quickly and can’t carry on. I figure there are so many good books out there, why waste time on the bad ones. Plus, finishing an unengaging book takes so long. A good one and you’re reading every chance you get. Dinner’s going to be ten minutes – great; read another chapter, friends stuck in traffic – no big deal, read some more. But when it’s not such an enjoyable read, suddenly staring into space while your jacket potato cooks, is fine, and when you said an early night you meant to sleep and not to read.
On my Rome trip I was lucky. Having just finished Julia North’s excellent ‘Hear Me,’ I was at a bit of a loss as to what to read next. You know that feeling when you’ve just finished a really good book? You feel lost, bereft, no other book will be so good, they will all pale in comparison. But then I picked up ‘The Miniaturist.’ Oh I know what you are going to say; that book has been out ages. It has, but my Kindle is jammed packed with around 300 book samples and I’m only just there. It’s taken a while, but hey, this was the next book of interest. How was it? Well, I’m not going to ruin it for anyone who has yet to read it. It’s a bit like Rebecca; new bride arrives at her husband’s house for the first time, everything is strange including the people, and she ends up embroiled in her husband, sister in law and servants lives and secrets, but with the added dollop of magic in the shape of a doll’s house providing clues to the future. Set in the icy cold winter of Amsterdam, this is not what I would call summer reading! Yes, it certainly was weird, but very original.
Having finished this book at the end of the first of my two week trip, I worried over finding another good book to fill the void. Somehow I ended up with ‘The Blackout.’ No two books could be more different. ‘The Blackout’ is about terrorists getting access to the power grid and the damage that ensues, and this certainly fell into the page turning, thriller that was promised. Again it was set in winter, while I lay on the sofa with the aircon on, late twenties outside and in, a recently devoured gelato pot next to me!
What made this book even more real was the added perk of Vodafone deciding to restrict my phone so outside of wifi services, I couldn’t call or text. Nothing makes you feel more isolated than a bout of technology failure! The book felt rather in keeping with my surroundings; miles from home, uncertain world etc etc.
Similarly, years ago on the one time to date in my life that I have had flu, and I mean real flu, three weeks of the stuff, I was reading ‘Shutter Island’ at the time. While this admittedly was the right season, there was nothing like a good psychological thriller when you’re quite dosed up and woozy. For this one time at least, it fit the situation perfectly!