The other morning, before work, I finished Roger Deakin's book Waterlog
, a journal of his swim through the British Isles. It's a book I'd recommend and I'd like to talk about it here, but really what I want to talk about is reading. I find it difficult to know how to finish reading a book. The words just run out and you're left holding a few empty pages and feeling a little lost, a bit like seeing a good friend off on the train after a visit. You will miss the book, miss the company it has given you these last months. Months? Yes, I, like so many others, am a slow reader. I would rather not be but in reality I do little about it and a book will take me about two or three months depending on length. Also, I occasionally yearn to read a really long book and these books usually are my favourite of all books: like Lanark, Moby-Dick, Mason & Dixon. So it has occurred to me is it perhaps the time I spend with these long books that makes them my favourites? Over the months they become friends, time spent with them is time away from lists of things to do, shopping at the 24 hour supermarket and transferring money to and from your bank accounts in a vain attempt to save. Now, this is not to say I don't know what it's like to be gripped by a book and to devour it in a sitting (for me 'The Catcher in the Rye' was the first, I'd not been much of a reader until the age of fifteen when I read it and discovered that a book could actually make you laugh out loud
), such times are a delight, but for most people a rare one. So, I have come to quite enjoy my status as a slow reader, it encourages close reading and builds up an intimate relationship with the narrative, but it does make finishing the book a bit of a wrench, I kind of dread it. In Waterlog, you could sense the book coming into its winter period, the nice weather over, only a handful of outdoor swims left before the cold set in. A silver lining of sorts comes in the period between books, a period of time which I thoroughly enjoy, often lasting up to a couple of weeks when yet again all of literature is spread out before you to choose from.