Reading Is Bliss
I have written in this very blog before about my inability to read on moving transport. But there is one magical form of transport where the rules simply whiz out the window...I am speaking, of course, about the big steel beast.
The man-made bird of wonders that will take you to wondrous places around the world, and that fills me with inexplicable joy even at the thought of breathing in stale recycled air, drinking water that tastes like magnets, and eating food with about as much flavour and the same texture as the little paper cutout dolls I used to play with as a wee girl.
Yes, I can read on aeroplanes. This is very important, because plane rides are often long and boring affairs, especially international flights where you're stuck for hours, sometimes a day or two, in the same cramped seat between a person who has no concept of sharing when it comes to armrests, and a grumpy old lady who mutters aloud about inconsiderate passengers when you try to utilise the reading light.
Faced with such a situation, there are really only two options: a) drink yourself to oblivion and arrive at holiday destination looking like you were just stepped on by a cow or b) read.
Reading on an aeroplane is a joy like no other. Unless you are a harried young parent travelling with infants or small children, in which case I offer my commiserations and suggest you try to parcel them off to your partner to gain valuable reading time - reading makes an island out of you.
I am a little nuts about post-apocalyptic fiction, so it was with a great deal of anticipation (and some trepidation), that I picked up a copy of Hugh Howey's Wool. Howey, who is being hailed as the science fiction equivalent of Fifty Shades author E.L James, is a self-publishing success story.
And the film rights to Wool, his post-apocalyptic trilogy which will conclude this year, have been bought by none other than Ridley Scott. It's in pre-production and Howey will have the surreal experience of having a novel that he's written turned into a movie by one of Hollywood's biggest names, something that he says he had no intention or ambition of ever achieving when he wrote the series and self-published it on Amazon.
Wool is followed by the sequel Shift, and the final in the trilogy, Dust, will come out late this year.
I met Howey for a chat while he was in Auckland, at a hotel overlooking the harbour, which turned out to be quite apt, as Howey worked on boats for years.
"It's where the layout of the silos [in Wool] came from, because the boats I worked on were laid out very similarly. The nicest decks are on top, where you have the owner's suite and the salon...the owners are treated very nicely. The crew are often down below with the grease and the engine room."
The subject of how to get the younger generation interested in reading has plagued teachers, parents and other interested adults for a long time.
Though I don't have any children of my own, I can see from friends and family with kids what a constant battle it is for them to pull the little darlings away from the flicker of computer and tablet screens and into reading a book.
Kindles can help and other electronic devices designed specifically for e-books can help, as it's close enough to a computer that kids feel it's not such a transition away from the screen.
A parent friend is of the opinion that the younger generation is not really at fault, as it's hard enough to resist the allure of multimedia entertainment as an adult, let alone a child who can't set their own boundaries.
Teacher friends say that setting good reading habits actually comes from the home, and that though you can make students read the books that are in the school syllabus, the act of reading for enjoyment is not something that can usually be instilled in a classroom.
I am eating an apple as I type this post. Normally this would be accompanied by a cup of herbal tea, but I lack the motivation to get up and make it - seriously, where is a char wallah when you need one?!
Perhaps it was because of the "no reading at the dining table" rule that I was governed by as a kid, but for ages, I didn't snack when I was reading. There was also always the fear that I'd drop food on the pages - a nuisance if it's a library copy, a tragedy if it's your own or borrowed from an eagle-eyed friend.
But never fear, disasters can be averted, or at least lessened in severity and occasion, by being careful about what you eat around your sacred books.
Like movie snacks, reading snacks are a mixture of whim, practicality and budget. At the cinema, I crave things I don't normally touch in other portions of real life, like salted popcorn, frozen coke, hot peanuts and Jaffas. When I'm reading, I don't want anything too heavy, but I crave sweeter items than I normally do
There is a time-honoured tradition of activity snacking, starting from John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich. Lord Sandwich has been historically credited (though there is some debate), with the creation of the sandwich. The earl was a gambler who requested cold meat between two slices of bread as a snack so he wouldn't have to get up from the card table. And thus was the sandwich born.
Many moons ago, I tried joining a book club. Like all my other (slightly insane) ideas, I soon realised that a) I really wasn't up for driving an hour to book club, even if I was a somewhat free uni student at the time, and b) I didn't get along with any of the others in it.
The ladies were lovely and smart, for the most part, apart from one who smelled like musty pillowcases who everyone avoided sitting next to, but it started to feel a little too much like a meeting of Catholic Old Girls - and I'd had enough of single-sex schools to last me several lifetimes.
To this day, I haven't joined another book club, but I've been mulling over checking out one recently. The problem is that I have no idea where to begin. Where do people go to find book clubs?
There is the option of starting my own, but as I've found from trying to begin writers' groups, that comes with a lot of hidden administration and I want to abdicate as much responsibility as possible. Really, I just want to go somewhere and hang out with a bunch of other awesome readers, read books, drink wine and eat chocolate and talk about literature.
My friend Peaches**, who is a young mother of two adorable kids under 3, and thus has no time for such frivolous pastimes as reading, said to me from the couch where she had ensconced herself with a large glass of cold juice, looking las though she wished it was a Long Island Iced Tea instead, reminisced about a book club she'd joined a few years ago...pre-babies.
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