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So much for fifty pages a day

Last month (March’s “Coincidence Corner”) I quoted something from Andy Miller’s “The Year of Reading Dangerously (How Fifty Books Saved My Life)”, his wife’s advice on how to read “Middlemarch”: “Just do what I did. Read fifty pages a day and leave it at that.”

Since quoting those words I haven’t even found time to read fifty pages a day. In that intervening fortnight some of my friends have no doubt carried on reading their three or four books per week and others will have read no books at all. I’m halfway through “Song of Solomon” by Toni Morrison, but haven’t read a single page of it for over a week. (I was going to write “I haven’t picked it up for over a week”, but that would be wrong. I have picked it up, often, put it in my work-bag in the morning, and taken it out again in the evening, unopened.)

I chose “Song of Solomon” for two reasons: Marlon James enthused about it in a piece I read last month, and I found it in a rarely explored bookcase while looking for something else (serendipity, to use a word I have heard more often this week than usual). I’m enjoying it, but only have it “on vinyl”, so opportunities to read it on the move (Kindle, or Kindle App on another device) have been limited. (To read my paperback copy requires better light than you get in a District Line train.) Yes, I know, I could just spend a fiver buying the Kindle edition, and maybe that’s what I’ll do, but it’s the kind of book where I want 45 minutes at a time to read it properly, to read 30-40 pages at a stretch without being interrupted. And the school holidays only finished four days ago, so the children’s bedtimes were later, and uninterrupted reading time in the evening was less than usual, and I haven’t been keeping Anthony Trollope hours.

I did go back to an old habit, of reading an hour here and there of non-fiction, specifically two books by Clinton Heylin: “Still on the road”, which lists how, where and when Bob Dylan recorded his albums from “Blood on the tracks” (recorded in 1974) onwards; and “It’s one for the money”, about the evolution of music publishing. I am also halfway through reading “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” aloud to my son, but not for the last few nights.

Also, ironically, I have been at the London Book Fair this week and my head has been buzzing with facts, ideas and conversations, leaving me too distracted to sit down and read for an hour. So I watched football in the evenings instead, West Ham sadly losing their last ever FA Cup game at the Boleyn Ground, Atletico Madrid knocking Barcelona out of the Champions League quarter-finals and Liverpool’s last-minute win against Borussia Dortmund. All in all, five hours very well spent, in my current state of mind.


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