So you’re looking forward to retirement. Whether it’s next week. next year or just sometime soon it pays to plan.
If you’re working full-time you may find you’re either too busy or too tired to do much after work. Crashing in front of the tv is a popular outlet for many. But soon you’ll have hours to fill that weren’t there before.
There are so many activities you can choose from which I’ve discussed here but now I want to talk to you about reading.
Now that you’re getting ready to retire you may want to catch up on your reading. You no longer have to grab a few minutes at bedtime or squeeze in a lazy Sunday morning to enjoy your favourite books. You can binge read … now there’s a thought!
Why are some books perennial favourites?
Well putting aside the literary characteristics of each book I’d say it was how it brings back memories. The book doesn’t have to be set anywhere exotic, it’s just that something about it evokes the place, time or mood when you first read it.
I’ll give you an example. A book that always, instantly, brings my mind back to my first time abroad was set in Paris. It was “Perfume” by Patrick Suskind. I was in Bangkok at the time. I’ve never been to Paris and may never go but that’s not the point …
What I remember when I see the book now is how it felt to be alone in a strange place for the first time. It is an instant, visceral moment that still sends a chill down my spine. At the same time I remember how my skin felt in the sunshine. Even the taste of the noodles I ate without ever putting the book down.
I’m not recommending that particular book now because it didn’t wear so well for me. But if I ever see the cover or hear it mentioned, then I’m instantly in Thailand again with the sun on my back.
It was one of only two books I couldn’t put down without finishing. The other being “Red Dragon”, the first Hannibal Lecter book. I read that in the sleeper compartment on my way to London. Despite the movement of the train, and exhaustion, I finished it around 3.00 in the morning. And couldn’t sleep the rest of the way!
Anyway, a good read should, when you see it again, take you back in time …
Keeping it light or picking a tome?
So, the first time I read “The Count of Monte Cristo” I was in Majorca, on my first ever package holiday. Sitting on the balcony, with a soft breeze blowing and my feet up, chilling out after my first ever check in queue. Winding down from the trauma.
I loved that book. Devoured it. And even now when I reread it, it takes me back to that first sunny afternoon. For years I took it with me, despite the size. It was my comfort blanket when jet lag struck in Florida at 3.00 am. I still sometimes bring it out at Christmas when the cold is just too much and I need something familiar and comforting to read.
But mainly it is because it’s just a great, timeless story. Written by Alexander Dumas Jr, it’s a story of love and loss, revenge and redemption. And men in uniform. It has it all.
(It also has long chunks that can be skipped over on the second read, much like the poems in “Lord of the Rings”. You’ll know those when you see them.)
Another gentle read: “Anne of Green Gables” by LM Montgomery
A feisty redheaded girl making her way in life. It’s a story of a brave and feisty red-haired orphan growing up in Canada at the turn of the century. Anne has neither a home nor a family but plenty of hope. It’s light and pacy, funny and sad in turns. If you’re off to Canada anytime soon and want something to put you in the mood, then it has to be the story of “Anne with an ‘e'”
Who doesn’t love a good nine book arc … or is it ten now?
Now my reason for picking these books is the fact that they’re all available as e-books. I’ve reached a point in life where I can’t be bothered to hold up tomes. The hands just can’t take the weight any more.
You’d have to be a hermit not to have heard of this series so I’ll spare you the (exceptionally) gory details. If you can wade through the first book “A Song if Ice and Fire” then the rest are a breeze. There’s enough action to see you through the wettest holiday fortnight you’ll ever hope to avoid. Blood, gore and all.