Friday, 12 August 2011

Graduate Myth #3: Having Time To Read Fiction Again

The arm is healing nicely, please don't fret too much about that. I can even type properly again, which means it's time for...

Graduate Myth #3: Having Time To Read Fiction Again

At some point during university, you fantasised about throwing a book against a wall. You maybe even actually threw the offending tome down the stairs. (You know who you are, if you're reading this.) Doing a degree involves lots of reading, even if you're a science student. Chances are you probably enjoyed reading before you came to university, and you maybe even enjoyed some of the university reading material.* University tends to attract bookish people, after all. Come the end of your degree, though, and for a while probably the most complicated thing you wanted to read was a cocktail menu.

As the boredom of graduate life kicked in, though, most people I know started picking up novels again, and it was like the universe exploded in me. “Reading!” I exclaimed. “I love that!” I talked about how awesome it was to everyone, and tore my way through novel after novel, re-joined the local library and even read some Classic Books. I read War and Peace, for goodness sake.

This was all while under-employed, working part-time in a clothes shop in between job-hunting and living with my parents again. I used to get the train to work, so I even had a good hour every day to keep reading. It was brilliant, marvellous, wonderful just to read something that no one was going to set me an essay on. And it still is. I am as happy as a clam with a big, thick book, a free afternoon, and a lot of tea and chocolate. A lot of people I know feel the same, and even take their love of reading further by finding the time to write, or even write 12 Books In 12 Months (which by the way is a project you should read up on, as Ali is basically a superhero and disproves all of the theories that I'm about to expound on below. Nevetheless.).

The problem is that free afternoons disappear when you work full time. If you work for eight hours a day, sleep for eight hours a day, and commute for an hour a day, the time for reading quickly dwindles. I have to drive to work now due to inadequate public transport, so I've lost that time. Life gets in the way, in a constant and distressing way, with things like cleaning the bathroom and spending time with loved ones or writing a spurious blog. So the time to curl up with a good book decreases slowly but surely, until you're finally snatching moments before bed or finding esoteric excuses to have a bath.

Which is why I was very pleased to recieve The Crimson Petal and The White for my birthday this week.

That's not the book, that's Romola Garai, but I really fancy her and she played Sugar in the TV adaption which was on recently which makes it completely relevant.**

That's the actual book, and it's 834 pages long. I can't wait for the chance to curl up and read it, but I am mildly concerned about finding the time, and suspect I may be reading it for the next month or so.

As such, the graduate myth about reading fiction again actually had a grain of truth in it – you will get to read again, and it will be marvellous. The problem is that like so many things in life, the time for it is rather crushed by having that graduate job you were really hoping for. Like so, so many things.

*full disclaimer: I keep and still consult a lot of my university texts. ROCK AND ROLL.

**before anyone points it out, I am aware that TV sucks up a lot of time too. This is particularly true if you are massive nerds like Mr DG and I, who are attempting to (re)watch all of Star Trek. All of it. We've even made it through the first season of The Next Generation.***

*** These footnotes are not making me look like the cool and sophisticated front of New Media that I'm trying to present, so I shall stop now.

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