DISCLAIMER: The above image is how I imagined I’d look when I did the the not so clinically proven: “wash-your-hair-and-plait-it-the-night-before-school-so-it’ll-be nice-and-curly-in-the-morning” trick as a teenager. Needless to say at the age of 16 I woke up to a fuzzy mesh of hair, not quite unlike a cat’s fur sitting on my head, a world away from Hermione’s lingering curls.
I’m currently reading Rachael’s English’s American Girl. I bought it a month and a half ago but between suffering a yogurt spillage in my handbag and encountering a prolonged bout of laziness after it had dried out, I only managed to pick up the book again yesterday.
This is nothing against the said book, it just shows how even someone who would go as far as calling themselves a “book-lover” on their Twitter bio suffers with procrastination and is prone to getting dangerously distracted by Mad Men.
This isn’t a book review, why? Well, I haven’t finished the book ,so I don’t think that would be fair or do the author justice. I’m just musing as to why I take incessant prodding to do an activity I actually enjoy. It’s probably because reading requires a level of concentration that many of us aren’t used to exerting since leaving school or college.
In school, Snapchat didn’t exist and I kept my block Sony Erikson buried in my schoolbag or stowed away in my locker, depending on how nerdy or scared s***less I was feeling on the day.
Every night after I’d finish my homework I’d unleash my inner Hermione Granger and alternate between reading a Jane Austen novel or a Bronte one.
Most of the time they were a struggle but sometimes there were glimpses of humour and “daring” hand-holding love scenes that spoke to my 16-year-old self. I’d tuck myself up with Emma or Wuthering Heights, along with a dictionary and log new words I didn’t understand into a battered Aisling copybook and duly record them. Just in case I ever wanted to use words like “insipid” or “sage” in my daily life.
I’ve earlier memories of my dad and brother reading to me when I was small. Funnily enough they both had the same tactic of exaggerating what happened in the Mr Men’s books, so much so that I’d be bowled over on the couch chuckling and aghast at their more entertaining albeit ruder versions of the classic tales.
The first real book I read on my own was Song of the Sea by Don Conroy. I got it as a birthday present from a girl in my primary school. I was determined to read a proper book, with no pictures, on my own and to the end.
To be honest I couldn’t tell you what it was about and don’t even think I understood what was going on, I was just stubborn but nevertheless it led the way toward a slew of Animal Ark books and the entire troubled, Jacqueline Wilson family building their way along my shelf like a row of misshapen building blocks.
I blame college for making me a lazy reader. Sure as an English student wasn’t I “always reading”, except for those days where I’d spend hours in the campus coffee dock and nights where I’d crawl out of Bodega or the Brog or the Bowery or whatever club du jour beginning with a B was the “in place” in Cork at the time.
Bible heavy copies of Beowulf and 18th century anthologies never thrilled me enough and it was only at Christmas time curled up on the chair to read a cosy Maeve Binchy novel that I’d rekindle my love for reading again.
Last month I read the most gripping novel I had come across in a long time. The Nightingale by Kristina Hanna has everything I like in a book- love, drama and a dash of murder. Also it’s about sisters and since my sister and I are so close, even though we are not particularly close in age, it’s a a relationship that fascinates me.
I read the book at my own pace and didn’t rush myself and enjoyed it all the more. Before I tried to be strict with myself and say: “I’ve to finish this in 5 days”, now I give myself a month and if I haven’t finished it in that time-frame I just forget about it.
Next week I’m enrolling myself in a creative writing class. I feel I’ve a story in me but like reading I need the discipline to do it and to not just attempt it whenever I get a half-hearted notion or decide to fill my diary with tears whenever a boy is “mean” to me.
There’s bundles of excuses I could use not to go like: it’s on for two-and-a-half hours or I’ve been feeling tired recently or it’s straight after work, but no. I’m going. I’m going to drag myself from Talbot Street to Harcourt next week for two-and- a-half hours to do an activity that I enjoy.
I’m going to be like that seven year-old reading Song of the Sea– I’ll finish it, to the end, even if I haven’t a foggiest idea of what’s going on. Sure, isn’t that life?