Sunday, 2 July 2017

Holiday Reading: Well! Is it a race?

 I returned much refreshed from my recent very welcome holiday with two favourite people with whom I share a good deal, including a joy in reading.

We all have busy working lives, so time spent in easy sunshine beside a Mediterranean lagoon is to be  relished. Truly the thought of a week reading at leisure in the clear southern light becomes a distinct and positive pleasure, even for Mme Lickedspoon and me   who read and write for a living. For us, reading of all kinds – even fiction - is also work or some kind of research
But it doesn’t feel like work here in the bright French sunshine, overlooking the silvery lagoon. No hurry. No politics. No commitments. Just the pleasures of the place and the language in the air and on the page.  Then there is the communication with each other: the deep breathing, the smiling, and the relaxing. And the food

As the weeks went on I became interested in the fact that the three of us read with equal enjoyment but at very different speeds.

M. Lickedspoon  is not a writer and doesn’t read fiction as part of his busy day job. On holiday he made his way through the most books in the three weeks. He does read for leisure though, in his normal life. Among other books he likes thrillers and detective stories and easily moves between Kindle and paper forms. I thought you might be interested in his impressive list of books read over three weeks.

1. Blackwater Lake - Maggie James (Kindle)
2. All Kinds of Dead - (Inspector Carlyle Book 11) - James Craig (Kindle)
3. Hunted - (Detective Mark Heckenburg, Book 5) - Paul Finch (Actual Book)
4. Strangers - (Detectiv Lucy ClayburnBook 1) - Paul Finch (Actual Book)
5. Stalkers (Detective Mark Heckenburg, Book 1) - Paul Finch (Kindle)
6. Sacrifice (Detective Mark Heckenburg, Book 2) - Paul Finch (Kindle)
7. Stop for Breakfast (Augill Castle Book 2) - Simon Temple-Bennett (Actual Book)
8. The Killing Club (Detective Mark Heckenburg, Book 3) - Paul Finch (Kindle)
9. Guapa - Saleem Haddad (Kindle)
10. Dead Man Walking (Detective Mark Heckenburg, Book 4) - Paul Finch (Kindle)

This total is an improvement on that of Mme Lickedspoon and myself  - the two of us who write for a living. Between us in those weeks we read – and very much enjoyed - a total of four books and one Kindle:

1.   Commonwealth: Ann Patchett 
2.   Hot Milk: Debora Levey
3.   The Vanishing Futurist: Charlotte Hobson
4.   The Burgess Boys: Elizabeth Strout (See my comment on this novel in my last post on Lifetwicetasted>
5.   New edition of Jilly Cooper’s whimsical; Class – read on Kindle by both of us. But this doesn’t count as it is better labelled work/research.

I’ve been wondering if I could come up with an explanation for this gap - this difference.

Some Possible Reasons?

·        We all agreed it wasn’t a competition.*
·        Madame L and I cannot resist enthusiastic discussions - on the balcony or in the café on the quayside - about what we’re reading. Time consuming of course. But then, for once, we did have the time.
·        Madame L had a commissioned article to write. So she did have some work to do.
·         As for me I spent a good time listening to Hilary Mantel’s clever, insightful Rieth Lectures – even making notes. This was surely research but it was the same time totally enjoyable – the line between work and leisure entirely blanked out.  Then because we were there we had to make time on the balcony to discuss the importance of Mantel’s ideas to any writer.

Anyway when I got home - fully rested and inspired by France as well as Madame Lickedspoon and Hilary Mantel - I rushed to order Jean Rhys’s luminous Dark Sargasso sea, (which had come up in a discussion). I also ordered Hilary Mantel’s A Place of Greater Safety, set in the French Revolution. 

The books came yesterday and I spent the day curled up reading the whole of The Wide Sargasso Sea – a brilliant slender volume of a hundred and twenty pages. Mantel’s novel is a heavier tome at eight hundred and twenty pages and could, I suspect,  take much longer than a day to read.

Portrait of the charismatic Camille Demoulins.

Perhaps another holiday? Another balcony?

OK! Monsieur Lickedspoon definitely won!


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