Recently it has been a pleasure to retire to bed at about half nine in the evening for some quality reading time. Stopping to make a hot chocolate which always gets the reading off right, then leaving it to cool off next to my funky touch lamp before picking up whichever book is currently occupying my imagination.
The beauty of the lamp accompanying the chosen literature is the intimate setting it creates, beyond the book everything is either obscured by the dark or its impact on the peripheral vision lessened so that the small zone of light contains the reader’s only focus on the many adventures to be undertaken.
The accompanying silence as the night wears on – if you are lucky enough to live away from main roads and such – adds a lot of atmosphere, as it did when I picked up Stephen King’s Desperation, and The Stand where 99% of the word’s population has died (not that this appalling tally seems to be noticed as this is all set in America) and the survivors are left to their almost totally silent world.
The night though is versatile, after extensive reading research throughout the years particularly vivid memories of 2001: A Space Odyssey and its three sequels, The Rama series, and Solaris which being Sci-Fi come to mind. It feels right to read the genre at night as it does horror, like the stories of M.R. James, and Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black, which is the only horror book that I have been genuinely creeped out by.
Treasure Island, King Solomon’s Mines, and Journey to the Centre of the Earth are all great examples of books to read in the quiet; such epic adventures and dramas in far off places and times, much removed from today’s world and better for it. The ageing of Narnia is also particularly striking both when the imagination is allowed full focus on its details and also to wander down roads unexplored.
Most interestingly Irene Nemirovsky’s unfinished Fire in the blood – a novel of family drama set in rural Burgundy and full of an earthy richness that just pulls the reader in – had me enamoured, I believe that thanks to the attention that I could allow it, having none of the distractions of the daytime to put up with, the steady pacing and beautifully written prose contained in its brief span could be fully realised and appreciated,
Sleeping seems overrated when there is so much to be read and an increasing amount of time is taken up in the futile pursuit to trying to get down the pile of unread books but that’s okay, I’d much rather have words than the rest.