In the last week, two close friends have asked if I've given up blogging. And while the answer's a resounding no the question has made me step back and think about why I've been so silent on here in recent weeks. And why I've been so absent from my favourite blogs.
Initially, my law revision suffocated my reading. It was a gradual process, starting back in April when I'd feel guilty for enjoying fiction when I should have been revising acquisitions law (or some other such topic). By May, I was struggling with books I'd expected to love - books that had sat in my tbr stack next to my bed exuding "read me"-ness, books that I'd read great things about and was excited to pick up (step forward Reading Lolita in Tehran and The Wind-up Bird Chronicles). When I picked them up and turned the pages I knew I was physically reading, I mean my eyes were following the words, but nothing was happening. No veil was descending. Something was blocking me from entering the worlds unfolding on the page. I felt like I was locked out of my favourite place - I could see the good times to be had behind the gate but I just couldn't get in. Reading Lolita was particularly galling, as I could see how much Nafisi loves reading and just knew how much I'd love this book if only I could find the key. Of course, it was my mind's way of telling me that I needed to stop procrastinating and buckle down to some serious revision! Which is exactly what I did. I set aside all the juicy fiction I'm planning to read and kept my reading strictly to the work- and study-related variety.
But no reading meant no blogging as I felt I just had so little to say. And working and studying meant time was at a premium - no time to be browsing happily through the blogosphere reading reviews by bloggers whose taste I've come to respect and admire.
My exams finally finished two weeks ago. After four years of full-time work and part-time law school, I've been more than a little demob happy. I've crammed more socialising into the last two weeks than I did in the previous six months (weekends in Dublin and Edinburgh, a night and day in the Lake District, concerts, drinks & dinners with friends). While slightly dazed (I'm off to Dublin again tonight for another weekend away - my little sister's hen weekend!), I feel like I've emerged from black-and-white into full technicolour splendour, with the colour the exams had leached out of my reading well and truly returned.
The first post-exam novel I finished was With My Lazy Eye by Julia Kelly. While the cover blurb had my hopes high ("the freshest voice in Irish fiction" - John Banville), I enjoyed this less than I was expecting. This first novel follows Lucy Bastonme from childhood to womanhood in 1980s Ireland and London, particularly her relationship with her ever receding father. It's enjoyable, but mainly because it evoked the flavours and sounds of an 1980s childhood so well (reminding me of my own childhood - nothing like a nostalgia read every now and again). Some details niggled me, particularly the use of email in the late 80s and early 90s London office the character works in, but overall an enjoyable read.
The most recent book I've finished is the excellent Evening Is the Whole Day by Preeta Samarasan. I loved this book, becoming fully immersed in the world of the Big House with its characters (six year old Aasha in particular). I ended up reading this as slowly as I could, eking it out as I just didn't want it to end...I'll write up a full review soon but this is definitely one of my favourite books this year, and certainly the best debut novel I've read in a long time. It's been the perfect re-introduction to the joys of reading - savouring the experiences contained between the covers - and there were lots of new words for me to look up too as Samarasan uses language to stunning effect.
So while the last couple of months have presented the biggest challenge to my attempts to find a balance between the demands of work and reading and the choice of blogging - it's a dilemma that I'm sure every blogger faces - it's actually been interesting. It's forced me to think about why I'm doing something, or rather not doing something. There's still a lot of upheaval in the Logophile household - we're moving from London to Brighton next weekend - but now that my reading is back in rude health I'm sure my blogging will follow.
My hand luggage for Dublin has The Dubliners tucked in - a re-read but I've never read it while actually being in Dublin. And Nabokov's Lolita is coming up. In fact, there are too many books I want to read at the moment!