Time to read a good long book

The days are long, the sun is high. There is plenty you could be doing, but instead why not sit back and read a decent book

All hail The Book as it was meant to be read – as a book, between covers.

All hail The Book as it was meant to be read – as a book, between covers.

 

You could paint the house, invest in quality exterior paint, feel very worthy and play Maurice Jarre’s inspiring soundtrack from Witness – you know the bit where they are raising the barn? – at full volume, on outdoor speakers.

Let the music travel for miles. Your neighbours may cheer you on, offer to help or more likely, just stare in stunned silence . . . but then the ladder looks a bit shaky and you’ve no head for heights. Even so, you could perhaps mow the lawn, battle the weeds – but they will all grow back with a vengeance.

It makes more sense to just sit in the garden and allow nature to take over while you capitalise on the natural light, now that the days are becoming shorter – and read a book. A long one. Indulge your mind, think of your house as a shelter, a hut, not an extension of yourself. Or perhaps you are about to face a marathon car journey (no, don’t buy an audiobook, it’s soooooo lazy; be a traditionalist, take a book, hold it closely, concentrate as your children or parents snipe and bicker. All those hours in a confined space with your family: a terrifying prospect. Bring a book, a very, very long one; acquire those tablets people use for seasickness. They work, those pills – I know, I’m a qualified sailor. You are about to fly to Australia? New Zealand? Timbuktu? You may need two books, very long ones. Better make that three. Best of all, each one of these books is ideal for reading aloud. Think of it: the return of the shared reading experience. Initiate a new era in civilised living, the return of human interaction. You have nothing to lose except your dependence on electronic devices.

All hail The Book as it was meant to be read – as a book, between covers.

Independence Day

by Richard Ford

East of Eden

by John Steinbeck

Vanity Fair

by William Thackeray

The Vienna Melody

by Ernst Lothar

Exodus

by Leon Uris

Doctor ZhivagoExodusGone With the Wind

Skippy Dies

by Paul Murray

Skippy Lives

The Lord of the Rings

by JRR Tolkien

The Hobbitthat

The Once and Future King

by TH White

The Goshawk

The Alexandra Quartet

by Lawrence Durrell

JustineBalthazarMountoliveClea

Bleak House

by Charles Dickens

Parade’s End

by Ford Maddox Ford

Middlemarch: A Study of a Provincial Life

by George Eliot

Middlemarch

The Goldfinch

by Donna Tartt

Buddenbrooks

by Thomas Mann

Death in Venice

Still, mention of Buddenbrooks is an ideal cue for alerting readers to The Doll, by the Polish master Boleslaw Prus, in which the hero Wokulski a successful businessman falls obsessively in love with the wrong girl, the calculating Izabela.

This is a novel which you will insist upon reading long extracts out aloud to whomever happens to be near you – your family, friends, the stranger trying to sleep in the seat next to you on the flight. It is a communal experience, lively, astute and very funny.

Now is also the time to discover: Olivia Manning’s The Balkan Trilogy: The Great Fortune, The Spoilt City Friend and Heroes.

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