The Bigger the Book the Harder They Read

I seem to have lost the ability to read big books.

Perhaps it is a lockdown thing.

Scratch that, it is definitely a lockdown thing.

I open a book that is more than 200 pages in length, sometimes even less, and I feel an immense pressure in the back of my skull. The pressure is caused by of all the words. One after another, all lined up, sentence after sentence. The thought of reading them all just feels so overwhelming.

I’m all for getting lost in a good book. I love to read. It’s one of the reasons I became a writer – my joy of words. But I feel my body actively revolt when I sit down with a long book in my hands and open it up. Even the first page takes monumental effort to get through.

I can manage a short story. Or a poem. Or flash fiction. I can cope with a novella at a stretch, if I really buckle down. Anything beyond that, the thought of all those words I have to read with my eyes becomes too much. A headache forms. I have to put the book down.

My saving grace has been audiobooks. I can put one on, close my eyes and just let the words cover me like a warm blanket. I have actually managed to finish a whole host of books this way. I never thought I would be so happy to have an Audible account.

There is also the bonus of the fact that I can do the washing up at the same time.

When this all started, I was really worried that something within me was broken that could never be recovered. I was worried that I would never be able to read a long novel again. And what would that mean for my writing? What would it mean for my life?

I suspect, as is often the case, I was being a tad overdramatic. I’m sure I can start reading long novels again. Eventually. With time.

Everything nowadays takes time.

Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

A selection of the small books I thought would be a good idea to try over lockdown. It did not go well.