Leopold Broom Investigates: Books Before Bedtime

by Lee Cross

The second most common thing occasional/casual readers say to me is, “yeah, I like to read before bedtime, it helps me to doze off really quickly – know what I mean”?

No. I do not.

[the most common thing is, “I wish I read more,” which I’ve blogged about before. Personally I wish people would stop killing each other and/or the nice lady from the marvel cinematic universe would bring me breakfast in bed. Sorry I should say, “our,” bed.]

Reading before bed is a dangerous habit for me to indulge in because I don’t stop. I’m being completely serious when I say I have to set an alarm to remind me that it’s time to sleep, and then and I usually squeeze in a sacrificial extra hour, paying for it in the morning at 7am, when I’m getting up to head to the nine-to-five drudgery.

A good unread book is to my mind like a red flag is to a bull… who am I kidding, ANY unread book has that effect on me – even the worst books I’ve come across, I still can’t stop myself from reading the bloody things.

For example, I picked up Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari yesterday, and read it in the split between my two jobs, then hid out of sight reading for 30mins while I had some down time…

I’m just going to interrupt the theme of my blog here. ‘Sapiens’ is absolutely amazing – I’m only about a third of the way through reading it at the moment, but the scope and breadth of understanding in it is, quite simply, blowing my mind. Mr Harari (whoever he is when he’s at home) has written a wonderfully accessible book of knowledge. I’m obviously reserving judgement until the final page is turned, but as I sit here, I’m struggling to remember ANY BOOK with such an utterly perfect PAGE-1.

Anyway, what was I saying….

…but if I had gone home, my 18 hour working-day notwithstanding, I would have kept reading until it was finished or my eyes were bleeding from the effort.

I’ve always assumed that all bookworms felt the same way as I do about reading before bed, the idea that it’s a powerful narcotic as opposed to a sedative, but just lately I’ve begun to wonder if I’m one of the exceptions to the rule.

I wonder if this narcotic feeling (I’m going to stick with the word – because it perfectly describes what I’m trying to illustrate) was always inside me, or if the buzz from extended reading was something I became addicted to.

Well, I’m sure that wiser folk than I have thought on the matter, perhaps even formulated answers of sort. For myself, I’m going to start asking my fellow committed reraders, as I meet them on my journey, their opinions on reading before bedtime… sedative or stimulant? A passion or a regret? to be avoided, or to be indulged?

[I don’t usually invite comment, but if you want to tweet me on the subject @LeopoldBroom, or post on the literatipulp facebook page, I’d love hear about your bedtime reading habits. Thanks muchly – Lee].

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