For as long as I can remember, I've been a reader, and aspired to be a writer.
As a young child, I read simple books with my mum, and at a very young age, began to read for myself. I started out with Mr Men and Garfield picture books, but quickly moved onto Enid Blyton, avidly reading every chapter, loving the fact that I could get lost in these worlds and get to know these amazing characters.
I read everything I could get my hands on, and was on first name terms with the local librarians, always in there, getting new books to race home and pore over.
As I got older, I moved on to more teenage fiction - Sweet Valley High, Point Horror, that sort of thing.
I wrote constantly - journals, poems, short stories. I never ran out of inspiration, and was delighted that when I asked my English teacher if he believed I could be a writer, he replied "Absolutely, and I fully expect you to dedicate your first book to me".
Into my adult years, I loved chick lit, but also enjoyed non-fiction, especially self improvement books and books about philosophy, psychology and religion. There was always something new to learn, and I was never happier than when I was browsing the shelves of a bookshop.
In fact, books and music were pretty much all I spent my money on...as I've said before, clothes and make-up really weren't my "thing", if I ever had a few spare quid, you could find me happily wandering in a music store or bookshop. There's something magical about old bookshops, isn't there? You just don't know what treasures you might find.
Anyway, fast forward to now. How many books have I read in the past three years? Um....none. Well, maybe one, but I re-read that, having read it years before, so it doesn't count.
What's happened to me? Well, it's a combination, I guess. For one thing, I'm always so busy during the day with the house and the kids, by night time, I don't really have the energy to concentrate on anything too lengthy or involved.
For another thing, the internet happened. Now, I love the internet, don't get me wrong, but it has completely killed my attention span.
You know the story, you wake up, you check your phone. You make a cup of tea, check your phone. Feed the kids, check your phone. Have a shower, check your phone. Go out, check your phone. Come home, check your phone. Hell, I can't even make it through a half hour TV programme without checking my sodding phone!
I know I'm not alone, but I think technology moves so fast and is so immediate, it's ruined a lot of people's ability to concentrate on anything for any length of time.
Nowadays, I read the odd blog post, Facebook post, web news article (which I've probably seen on Facebook), and that's fine. I have time for that. I can concentrate on these things, because they're only a few hundred words long and then I can go about my business again.
Reading books is much harder, because I struggle to find time to read more than a chapter at a time, then it might be a few days before I can read another chapter, by which time I've lost the plot and forgotten stuff, and eventually it becomes so long between chapters that I lose interest entirely and yet another book is consigned to the "I never did get round to that" pile.
Time to change all that. I mean, how hard can it be? I miss reading, I miss getting so excited about the next chapter that I race through all my jobs just so I can get back to my book. Time to set myself an internet curfew, set aside some real, uninterrupted (except maybe by kids) time and just read an actual paper book.
After all, just as I believe you can't be a truly great cook unless you love eating and appreciate good food, you can't be a truly great writer unless you love reading and can appreciate good prose.
I've borrowed a copy of "The Burgess Boys" by Elizabeth Strout to get me back in the habit. My friend (who happens to be the librarian!) raved about it and said it lit the touchpaper to get her out of the same bad habits that I'm in, and reignited her love of reading. I really hope it does the same for me!
Do you read? Do you wish you read more often? And most importantly, can you recommend me any good books? I'd love to hear from you!