Reading Ruminations

Lately I keep pondering about reading and the effect it has on my head-space. The other day at my London-based book group a few of us picked up on a passage from the book we were reading, July’s People by Nadine Gordimer which I quoted in my review:

“But the transport of a novel, the false awareness of being within another time, place and life that was the pleasure of reading for her, was not possible. She was in another time, place, consciousness…”

Since then I’ve been thinking about that power of being transported by books. Other book-bloggers (A Striped Armchair and Savidge Reads) have also commented on the effect of reading lately from different angles so it’s not just me musing away it seems!

I’ve identified that I actually have a kind of mental struggle when I do want to be taken away in my imagination and I just don’t have the time.

Absorbed by The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters on the daily commute

Absorbed by Sarah Waters' Little Stranger on the Tube

Like many people I read on my commute – a wonderful opportunity to get stuck into a book of course – but what I have noticed recently is that sometimes reading before work actually makes me a little grumpy because I want to stay in the story world and feel dare I say it, resentful of being forced out of it. I actually think that this is not a positive mind-set to have when I really should be focusing on the day ahead.

To counter this ‘book-hangover’ feeling I have been making a special effort to put down my book 5 or 10 minutes before the end of my journey at a convenient point and come into the present and that has actually really worked for me.

Do other people feel frustrated by having to stop reading? While reading is a wonderful escape and source of learning, do you think it can be a negative thing to become too absorbed in books? What do you think?

13 responses to “Reading Ruminations

  1. ‘book-hangover’. I’ll patent that if I were you! Perfectly describes that feeling when you have to put away the book and come back into the real world.

    I always feel that my energy levels are lower after if I go straight back to work after I read on my lunch break or before work. It must be our minds being exhausted zipping between different consciousness.

    • Glad you like the phrase! I tend to find that I need a little bit of a moment not really thinking about anything sensible between reading and working to counteract that dip in energy levels as you say 🙂

  2. I read to the last possible moment of any free time but I do understand the concept of the “book hangover”. I raised something similar recently on my blog in relation to a Guardian post about giving up books for a week; personally I want to read even more than I do but for other people it can become negatively engaging and detrimental. Good luck finding a balance!

    • I definitely would like to read even more than I do, that’s why I get grumpy! I spotted your post on giving up books but didn’t get a chance to look so I shall pop over now …

  3. I know what you mean about being forced to stop reading when you reach your tube destination. I’ve solved that problem by listening to my iPod on the morning commute (or reading that horrible trashy Metro or simply having a doze) and only read my novel on the return home. That way, I can keep reading once I get inside the door if I need to…

    • When I read Mr Pip I had to sit in the waiting room at the end of my destination it was such an annoying point to stop and finish it!

      You know what this morning I didn’t read at all except a few pages of Metro, checked a couple of emails and stared into space and it was quite good. Perhaps that’s a good method 🙂

  4. Virginie Menzildjian

    The Little Stranger is so absorbing, no wonder you feel like you have a bookhangover afterwards when reading it while communting !!!!
    I loved it !
    Anyways when I take a train, a bus or the metro in Paris, I have to read.But I admit it takes quite a while to readjust to reality when you have to close the book.Maybe it is better to listen to music on the way to work and then read on the way back home…….

  5. I only have a ten minute drive to work these days, but I do read as soon as I wake up in the morning, and I hate having to put my book down to get up!

  6. That’s a good point, you can’t read when you drive, but I don’t think I could read first thing in the morning on a work-day I’d never want to get up!

  7. I am one of those people who will literally read until the last minute, in fact the other day I walked into a barrier my brain was so deeply ensconsed in the latest Levy! Maybe I should ask her publishers for some compensation? Ha!

  8. Giving yourself time to re-adjust to reality sounds like a sane plan. I love reading on my commute and get frustrated when I can’t. It seems such a waste of time just staring into nothing for 30 mins. I currently commute with a friend and feel rude about reading in front of her. So I actually prefer to commute alone. Does anyone else feel that way?

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