For the Love of Books


One of my new year’s aims is to read more. But it’s not just reading more – I’m making it A Thing. I’m going to savour it (and savouring ticks mental health boxes galore). I’m going to light the fire, warm my slippers, unearth the cosy blanket from wherever the kids have hidden it, make a cup of tea in my favourite mug and snuggle right into that book.

As ever, I feel like I’m late to the enlightened party. I read voraciously as a child and young adult but once I had kids it dropped down the list of priorities like a stone. I had neither the time, nor the emotional energy to invest in a story. A friend of mine mocked me when I said my main criteria for a book was that it was light. As in, it didn’t weigh much. Hardbacks were totally out as I read when I was up feeding in the night and holding a heavy book one-handed gave me wrist ache and risked injury to the baby if I fell asleep mid-read. The Book Thief was a notable exception – this was the only book I read during this time between feeds.

So why am I choosing to read more? Apart from the fact that nothing beats getting lost in a story. Well, it has been shown that reading goes way beyond ‘just’ reducing anxiety and stress. Studies have linked it to good brain health in old age. It improves emotional intelligence, empathy and helps you relax before sleep. And if this weren’t enough, it improves your writing. It’s an all-round win.

Part of this deliberate reading plan is researching which books to read next, and choosing ones I really fancy – no ‘I should be reading this’ allowed. I’ve moved the To Be Read pile off my bedside table and now have a shelf with the ones waiting on it to avoid the potential guilt. I’m alternating between adult books and children’s books and I’m mixing new releases in with classics that I’ve somehow missed. I’ve also given myself permission not to finish a book if I’m not enjoying it. And the final part of this aim will be to post reviews on bookseller’s sites – if an author has written a book I’ve enjoyed, the least I can do is thank them with a review.

Kate Mallinder