Before anyone can be a writer, they first have to be a reader.
I feel very lucky that I was given the opportunity to fall in love with reading as child. My mum happily took us to our local library, and I remember being amazed that there were people out there who let you take books home and trusted you to return them. And it was free! The library of my youth has changed locations, but it still exists, thank goodness. And having just checked, I’m pleased to report it’s open 7 days a week. (Thank you, Ealing Council.)
These days, I tend to buy most of the books I read, which is both a blessing and a curse. It results in straining shelves, surfaces stacked with tottering piles of paperbacks, and large doses of guilt. Nothing reproaches me more than an unread book.
Every time the book fairy appears clutching a new book I always try to add it to the bottom of the pile so that the books that have been languishing unread the longest don’t keep getting shunted further down the line. It almost never works. I usually end up dipping into it first and if I’m gripped I keep reading. (Try keeping your mitts off Nicola Mostyn’s brilliant debut, The Gods of Love.)
Sometimes, when you finally get round to reading a book you’ve had ages, it turns out to be so amazingly good that you chide yourself for letting it sit so long gathering dust. (The dusting fairy visits far less frequently than her bookish counterpart.) Apologies to Juliet Ashton and her brilliant book The Woman at Number 24.
The TBR List is a fact of life. Yes, the guilt pangs are an occupational hazard, but there’s also something comforting, decadent even, in having an (almost) endless supply of book to get lost in.