Since I’ve started writing as a job and not just as a hobby, the amount of time I spend reading has plummeted dramatically. This is worrying for three reasons.
Firstly because I love reading. As a child I used to sit in a cardboard box and read (so my parents tell me) for hours. I studied English at University just to have an excuse to keep on reading. Now that I’m older, I don’t have the box, but there aren’t many things I enjoy more than reading in bed with a cup of tea and a packet of biscuits. I used to keep a reading diary. Now I’m embarrassed to admit there wouldn’t be much point.
Secondly, as Stephen King famously put it:
‘If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.’
Although most things King says have the power to terrify me, as a newbie writer, those words might be the most terrifying of all.
Third, and perhaps most importantly, is the fact that reading is healthy. Not just because studies show it increases emotional intelligence, decreases stress and keeps the brain active, but also because it stops me obsessing about my own words. Sometimes you just need to get out of your own head.
So I need to start reading again. And I want to read romance. I want to revisit all the great love stories that made me fall in love with the genre in the first place. Not to analyse or study, but just to enjoy. So I’ve set myself a reading challenge, which is to read and blog about a classic love story every month. Hopefully I’ll think of something profound to say, but mostly I’ll probably just gush because now that I’ve set this challenge, I’m really excited to start.
The other night I drew up a short-list of love stories. Most of them are books I first read as a teenager and for the most part haven’t re-read since. Not because I didn’t love them, but just because there are so many books in the world and it’s so hard to fit in even the smallest fraction of them. But some books deserve a re-read, so I’m going to start with my favourite novel by arguably the first and still greatest romance writer of all – ‘Persuasion’ by Jane Austen.
After that, well, I’d appreciate any suggestions. Just no Madame Bovary’s please. I’m a HEA kinda girl.