Listening to one of the recent episodes of the Readers Book Based Banter podcast got me thinking about my own reading habits. The co-hosts for the show were chatting about whether the type of books they read changes with the seasons. Simon’s interests get darker as the evenings draw in apparently —so lots more of the big Victorian classics it seems are on his horizons as we go into Autumn and Winter.
This isn’t something I’ve ever thought about before. I do make mental lists of books I want to read in the few months ahead but I’m not conscious that I choose them based on the season.
Only recently we were seeing promotions for ‘the perfect summer book’ and ‘summer reading recommendations’ but it’s a concept I’ve never really understood. What does that phrase ‘a summer book’ mean anyway? Something that is set during a summer period for instance or does it denote a particular subject matter or something that is light and frothy so you can read it on a sun lounger with eyes half closed?.
My reading habits don’t really change through the year – I read what I feel like reading at the time, regardless of what the calendar says or the thermometer. So if I feel like reading a novel set at Christmas but the sun is shining and officially it is summer, then I’ll read it rather than save it up for later in the year.
But my current reading experience has shown that there are times when reading within the season has its advantage. By absolute co-incidence I just happen to be reading a novel that couldn’t be more closely matched to this time of the year – it’s Harvest by Jim Crace (shorlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize). It’s a wonderful evocation of country life sometime before the industrial revolution, marking the cycle of growing, reaping and sowing. Right now that cycle is also in evidence in the lanes around my home with farm vehicles of all description brought into service as the farmers gather in the last of this year’s crops. A delightful confluence of fiction and reality. I might not change my reading habits radically as a result but just enjoy it when it does.
What about your reading habits —do you read different books depending on the season? Did you have a summer reading summer plan – if so, on what basis did you choose the books?
PS: If you want to hear the Book Based Banter discussion, it’s episode 82 – you can download via ITunes or the webpage – http://bookbasedbanter.co.uk/thereaders/