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Carry a book everywhere

Spines of old books

My friend Anna is a novelist and a reader. By which I mean: she reads books. Lots of books.

After all, if you’re going to be a novelist, you need to do a lot of reading. You need to know what else is out there. You need to understand what the publishing world is interested in. You need to build professional relationships with other authors, which means making the time to read their books.

So: reading becomes work. You have to read a lot.

Someone once asked Anna how she finds the time to read so many books, and her answer was simple:

“I carry a book with me everywhere, and whenever there’s a spare moment, I read a few lines, or a page or two.”

(Keep in mind that alongside writing novels, Anna is mum to three kids and has a day job as a teacher, tutor and editor. So that “spare moment” thing is something to consider with care.)

To put it more simply: Anna carries a book around the house the same way the rest of us carry our phones. She reads it in those same moments when the rest of us reach for the comfort of our black mirror.

Waiting for the kettle to boil? Read.
Queuing at the supermarket tills? Read.
Sitting on the loo? Read.

It occurred to me a little while back that Anna’s book-reading technique is also very useful for avoiding / escaping from the addictive horrorshow of social media.

Early in the pandemic, when I was keen to escape the same things in the same way, I copied Anna’s technique, and got through two books in a week. It works.


Filed under: notes
(19 May 2022)