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Hey Rebooters! We’ve been promising/threatening an episode about books for a while now, as we’re both prolific readers and words are important in our lives – and we know loads of you love books too. And god knows we’ve needed the escapism lately… So, let’s talk about books!

In this episode we’re devoting a whole episode to the joy of reading!

Books and our lives

Ha. When we were young, where other kids our age were playing with dolls, we were both playing libraries. Or teachers. Carla had a county library with her best friend, aged around 7, which expanded into a whole range of different businesses (ahahaha – can you see a pattern there?).

We both just bloody love books – physical ones, ebooks & kindle copies. Words you can read are our favourite things. We may or may not have also both read the dictionary during our childhoods…

And we’re very definitely not like the Sex and the City character, or the real-life colleague Carla had, who keep books in their kitchen appliances. (Using your dishwasher = more time for reading!!)

When did we start staring at a tree and hallucinating?

We know some people start reading at a later stage (two boyfriends of ours don’t read at all, which is possibly linked to why they’re no longer boyfriends…) and despite having been friends for so long, we’ve not actually ever talked about this!

Carla doesn’t remember not reading, and her Mum says she was reading full books by age 3 and a half. Sarah also doesn’t remember not reading, and remembers reading in the dark under the covers… without a torch!

Photo by Carla Watkins / carlawatkins.com

We both wear glasses which we attribute partly to our obsession with reading, and also partly credit with our obsession with reading, which is fun. Habits formed in childhood have a tendency to stick!

Books as friends and friends in books

We were both quiet children (not that you’d believe it now) and we’re both introverts – and books became our friends, our confidantes and our courage while we were young.

There is still a tendency in both of us to blur the lines between real life and books, to refer to characters as our friends or tell anecdotes which we think is from a friend’s experience and actually turns out to be from a book.

We talk about turning to books for advice, and hiding from bullies and escaping into books – and getting away from wherever you are through the power of reading!

Reading styles – and getting back into reading

Carla’s super speedy reading and her photographic (or at least semi-photographic) memory. And struggling to read during the lockdown and the main part of the pandemic and how hard that was.

Sarah’s stopping reading completely, which coincided with stopping writing. How we both didn’t know how to live without books and how difficult that was.

Photo by Sarah Wayte / sarahwayte.com

Both of us reading multiple books at once (we think this is totally normal) and tempering this when getting back into reading – one book at a time rather than the overwhelm of fifteen at once.

Building back up from one book at a time and maybe six books a year, and learning not to try and read more than one of each genre at a time.

And fitting books into small homes and bigger homes! Plus LibraryThing which is a wonderful way to catalogue all the books you have and make sure you don’t buy duplicates.

The Book Epiphany (aka books coming out of your ears and no time to read all of them)

If you’re a reader of any sort, you’ll at some point in your life have The Book Epiphany, which is that you’ll never be able to read all the books in your to-read pile in your lifetime.

Sarah thinks this is disappointing, Carla is relieved you can then let go of the ones you’re not enjoying. But we’re agreed that not having to read a dull book to the bitter end is liberating!

Recommendations and expectations

People have the weirdest ideas of what you “should” have read and we have some quite eclectic tastes between us!

We both have books our Dads love and we just can’t get into – they remain in our to-read pile and we’ll see if maturity brings us a different perspective on those!

Between Jasper Fforde, Discworld and the Wheel of Time series, we’ve both experienced (and love) that jolt when you’ve been fully transported and then you come back to the mundane world and are ever so slightly confused.

The right book at the right time

Sometimes it’s a series, sometimes it’s a single book of a particular genre. The time a book comes into your life isn’t necessarily the time that you need to read that book.

Carla, as an ex-librarian, also firmly believes that books find the people they’re meant for – it’s a phenomenon she’s seen over & over again and it’s rather lovely.

There’s a difference between reading for joy, for information and for comfort.

Photo by Carla Watkins / carlawatkins.com

Do we keep wishlists? Yes, kind of – but between Amazon wishlists for our (unwanted, but used) Kindles, and Amazon wishlists for actual books, and recommendations, and books we buy from real proper indie bookshops – there are a lot of books waiting for us to read!

Kindles, reading locations & bad habits with books

How Sarah’s Kindle nearly led to a divorce, and Carla’s was for a family trip to Dubai where their combined books weighed more than their combined luggage. We still both prefer proper books though.

We’re curious, does anyone else read in the shower and while hoovering like Carla does? Or anyone who is twitchy about cracking spines of books?

And special editions – the ones that you want to read but you don’t want to damage, so you only read very occasionally and carefully even though they’re among your favourites. Yep, book lovers are weird 🙂

There is an admission of crafting with book pages and printing photographs onto dictionary pages – eeeek! But only from the pulping pile and often for gifts.

We’re generally agreed that books are there to be joyfully used and enjoyed. Although we’re also both disappointed that when you’re an adult you can’t just fill your house with books, you have to also have sensible things like cleaning materials and curtains and appropriately sized houses for your income. Sad times!

Time spent reading is never wasted

An inalienable truth – but also a procrastination tool. And a wonderful way to unwind, or as Sarah says, properly filling the well. You’re focused and it’s almost meditative, and probably needed. She says it’s her main way of refilling her well, whereas Carla often forgets it’s a valid way to do that.

Ooh, interrupting – are you someone who also gets angry if you’re interrupted reading?

BOOK CATHARSIS – where you can process events and feelings in your own life, through processing what you’re reading about.

Ooh, and audiobooks. Great for housework, not so good for driving, it turns out – although we’re old enough to have had audiobooks on a tape deck in a car, it turns out you can be a bit too absorbed in the story!

Sarah has a wonderful knack for being able to tune out background noise & sounds, which was helpful in her former paramedic life, but really doesn’t lend itself to audiobook listening.

We’re also hugely sympathetic if you’ve been put off reading because of school experiences – either reading boring books or reading something like Shakespeare which really was written to be performed and watched, not read.

We share a firm belief that although there may be people who don’t get joy from reading, there are books out there for EVERYONE. Whatever your taste, and whatever your style, and whatever your previous experience is with books.

And we’d like to emphasise again that if you’re reading a book you’re not enjoying, it really is ok to abandon ship and start again!

And finally

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