Time to read again

I used to read a lot. I was an avid reader from a very young age. My mother was, too, so she encouraged this and allowed me to read everything on her bookcase. School holidays revolved around having sufficient reading matter – at one stage we lived far from a library and it was a hellish period. As an adult, I can’t begin to describe the panic that would come over me if I thought I might run out of reading matter. I don’t re-read books so it was never a question of just grabbing something off my bookcase – there had to be an unread book available.

I often had several books on the go at one time; different types of books, for different moods, for a quick read or a long session. I went through fads of specific writers and read everything they produced. When I went to live in Zimbabwe for a few years, at a time when decent bookshops were scarce there and pre-internet, I joined a mail order book club – the catalogues came in the post and were fabulous, from thrillers to cookery books and autobiographies. I ordered by return post and paid for them by cheque – how quaint!

I’ve never understood people who never read and don’t own a well stocked bookcase. I hate it when people borrow books and don’t return them*. I always assessed (and judged!) a person’s bookshelf on arrival at their home. How could anyone not have a bookshelf and books lying around? (* However, I’ve started giving away the books on my bookcase. There are people who need them and can’t afford books, and this year I’ve done a lot of uncluttering of possessions. I have a decent collection of local non-fiction left, waiting for a worthy cause.).

I recently read a study that showed that people who don’t read are lacking in empathy, or that people who lack empathy do not read. That makes so much sense. I can see it in some of my non-reading friends who are also not empaths. It makes sense that someone who never reads about other people’s experiences, problems, happiness, death, joy or pain, can never understand the value of caring, or how to show it. Some people read only self-help books. That fits in with the self absorbed personality typical of those who lack empathy, and of course most of such books are a scam.

In recent years my interest turned almost completely towards non-fiction, with great emphasis on South African non-fiction. I have read few novels in recent years.

But, sadly, I have read very little in the past 2 years. It’s left me with a huge gap, to not read every single day. I can almost feel the need, the lack of peace. I feel almost guilty. And it makes me feel stupid, as if I have drained a part of me. I still absorb a lot of information via the internet and documentaries, but I don’t regularly lose myself in a book that is beautifully written and transports me to another world.

I blame social media and Netflix. I allowed them to steal me away from books. Thank goodness I don’t own a tv set, that would be the complete downfall of me.

This year, with all the time in the world to read, I tried, but my concentration was poor and I read only a few books, fiction and non-fiction. When I was added to a Facebook book group I realised I wasn’t alone with poor concentration, but I also realised I would soon turn into an imbecile if I didn’t increase my reading, a lot. I also need to restrict my social media addiction, that’s not good for the brain even if I filter out the obvious rubbish.

And then, Helen Moffett applied the pressure (without knowing it!).

I was super honoured when Helen had sent me a Facebook friend request and I love her posts. Helen is a multi-talented wordsmith and many other things besides. Read about her here and be sure to not miss her ‘rants’ – she delights us with an annual rant about Women’s Day.

Helen generously offered friends some of her duplicate books. I ‘applied’ for one and got it! All I had to do was fetch it, which I did yesterday. She added a second one as a bonus, and her only request is that I should review them on the Book Appreciation Group and pass them forward. Which I will do, of course, so it’s making me read! Yay!!

Left: the bonus book, short stories by some excellent local writers.
Middle: the book I applied for, Nechama Brodie’s thriller set in Johannesburg. That’s the one I’ve started reading and I’m loving it.
Right, on my Kindle, Helen’s latest book, the charming and gentle Charlotte, which I did start but will need to start again because my concentration was atrocious. (PS: if you read this today 30 December, Charlotte is available for 99p on Kindle if you live in the UK or Ireland!! and, if you’re keen on the current series Bridgerton, this is set in the same period.)

Here is a link to the crowdfunding campaign I’ve created in an attempt to save my tourism business and prevent my bank from taking my minibus. Any contributions welcome, and you are thanked in advance.

About Francoise Armour

I run a small touring company (Tours du Cap) at the bottom of Africa, to show visitors the beauty and vibrant culture of the country I have lived in since my parents brought me here from France as a child. I enjoy taking photos and wish I had learnt to do it properly. I enjoy writing but don't do enough of it. I enjoy walking in the mountains that surround me and I marvel over the views and the flowers and the amazing rock formations. I have a small, cute, clever, black dog of indeterminable breed, named Vida, who reminds me regularly that walking and getting out is not only for when tourists want it.

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A note to all accidental visitors:

I am not a photographer and do not claim to have any particular skills whatsoever in that department. I have enormous respect for those who can see the potential in a scene and can create a great photo. Good photography is an art, in my opinion.

I am just a happy snapper, I have no special lenses or accessories, my camera is very simple and it's usually best to leave the setting on auto.

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