Victoria King was never an avid reader until an e-reader changed her outlook. She’d like to explain why, so if you’re sitting comfortably, then she’ll begin…
Unlike my sister, I was never a big book reader when I was younger. I preferred newspapers and magazines. The short, sharp, focused pieces kept my interest. And I liked television, especially current affairs programs.
As for computers, and tablets, I am not a geeky girl: it takes me the length of a contract to master a mobile phone, and the heating system in my new car still has me baffled.
It therefore came as a shock to my family that, having recently fallen out of love with television, I should add an e-reader to my Christmas list. Yes, I wanted a gadget! Even more surprising is that it’s turned me into an avid reader.
I used to be the type of person who’d hover outside of Waterstone’s*, too intimidated to go inside. This was where all the clever bookie people hung out. When I visited New York, I even avoided Barnes and Noble – oh, the shame.
My reading habits were as follows: if you don’t grab me in the first few pages you go back on the shelf. The result? A shelf bowed by attempted reads.
Yet the e-reader has worked the same magic on me as Harry Potter did for a generation of children (and some adults): it has given me a love of reading, an escape from reality and the chance to be a hero – in my own mind, at least.
These days I cling to my e-reader, like so many middle-aged women on trains, feverishly reading the favourite of the week. It’s great having so many books in one place, and they are so much lighter than hardbacks. (I once dropped the hardback version of John Grisham’s The Rainmaker on my tummy after bowel surgery. Not nice, and quite ironic considering the story is based on chasing personal injury claims.)
It’s also filled me with the passion to tell people about the great fiction that is inspiring, engaging and consuming me, so I’m writing a monthly column-cum-book club for Standard Issue called Toranory. A bit like Jackanory, but for grown-ups, and with me in the chair. Each month, I’ll review one book and I’ll give you the title, in advance, if you’d care to read along with me.
Don’t worry if you don’t have an e-reader. I’m pleased to report I now love printed books too, and have recently taken to wandering around bookstores, reading the blurbs, falling for 3 for 2 offers, and being a sucker for Waterstone’s recommends.
In fact, I’ve had to buy a new bookshelf where my e-reader sits happily alongside a row of paperbacks. What does it matter how I read as long as I am reading?
I’m such a convert that I became really excited when I saw job advert in Waterstone’s. As we approached the counter, laden with papery goods, I pointed it out to my friend. Then my friend reminded me that I already have a job. “You’re right,” I said. “Besides, I haven’t read enough to work here yet. I have at least another two floors to do.”
Still, I am progressing. I even have conversations with those clever people behind the counter without feeling intimidated. Instead, I feel invigorated.
Kicking Toranory proper off, next month I’m reviewing Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You, so grab an old-fashioned or newfangled copy depending on preference and start reading. (I won’t be tucking you up in bed beforehand, or doing the voices – I’m no good at voices.) The aim of Toranory is to you give a fresh, new, insight into the masses of great books out there that are just waiting to be devoured. Write to me at the Standard Issue mailbag address and let me know what you think.
*other bookshops are available
Victoria is working on her first book. She is also a flag-waving survivor of Crohn’s Disease. And she loves a Mr Whippy.