Joy of books

PUBLISHED: 11:56 11 January 2015 | UPDATED: 07:50 12 January 2015

Andy Garland

Andy Garland

Archant

Radio Kent broadcaster and producer Andy Garland on the joys of reading and what makes us give up sleep for just a few more pages

Waffle waitress: “What’ choo you reading for?”

Customer: “Hmm, first time I’ve been asked that question, not what am I reading? But what am I reading for? I dunno, you got me...I guess 
I read for a lot of reasons, the main one being so I don’t end up being a [expletive deleted] waffle waitress.”

The late US comedian Bill Hicks in 
full-on rant mode about the perils of being perceived an intellectual in America’s deep south. But the question posed does bear further examination. Why do we read? 
To be entertained? To relax? To better understand the human condition? All 
of the above? None of the above?

I can barely remember a time when I 
did not read, early on, propped up by the pillows it would have been Whizzer and Chips. Reading for laughs perhaps?

Shortly to be followed by that familiar canon of children’s literature, Blyton, 
Dahl, Tolkien and by 15 upsetting my fearsome English teacher.

“Garland. What was the last great book you read?

“There’s a hippie on the highway, miss.”

“I don’t think so – try again.”

“1984 miss?”

“Very well...let us continue...”

It’s indicative of how powerful a tale Orwell weaves, considering that to a hormonal teenage boy, the attractions of the hardboiled crime capers written by James Hadley-Chase (whom I recently learnt was educated at Kings in Rochester) probably lay more in the scantily clad women who bedecked his front covers.

A triumph of the sciences over the arts 
at A-level meant a complete bypass of 
the well-thumbed works that line the shelves of the present Mrs Garland. A veritable who’s-who of English literature: Shakespeare, Dickens, Bronte, Austen.

On mine the slightly more lowbrow tomes of King, Koontz, Herbert, C. Clarke, Gibson and K. Dick give a flavour of 
the genres into which I regularly fall.

I read and read and read, but the ‘why’ 
still evades me. Reading can trump even a desire for precious sleep. That compulsion of being simultaneously drawn into the plot and into the quiet hours of darkness when all around are slumbering; but the imagined reality of remote Gothic castle, intergalactic starship, derelict factory or crinoline is just too stimulating to resist.

Just a few more pages, maybe just one more chapter, or I’ll just see how this 
turns out are the enjoyable precursors 
of the inevitable weary day ahead.

Conversely, fatigue can also wreck this most pleasurable of activities. At present I’m in the trenches in the company of Christopher Tietjens ploughing my way through the intricacies of Ford Madox-Ford’s Parade’s End. The complex text demands the concentration afforded by 
a long train journey, or an early night.

The infrequency of both has meant 
being restricted to a few nodding pages 
of unproductive bedtime snoozing.

At BBC Radio Kent we’re experimenting with the pleasure of consuming fiction 
for review in the public space. Reading 
as radio critic, if you like.

Following in the footsteps of Oprah 
and Richard and Judy, my erudite colleague Julia George has launched a book club, tapping into a growing trend that academics like to call a mass reading event.

So far listeners across Kent have had the opportunity to discuss The Sunrise with Kent author Victoria Hislop, debate the many merits of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mocking Bird and discuss the controversial teen novel The Bunker Diaries. This month it’s children’s fiction and then, who knows?

As a reader it is risky to sample the unknown but what a pleasure it’s been thus far. To join in, email julia@bbc.co.uk.

For me I’ve added reading for work to my list, although sadly not on work time. n

More from Kent Life

Thursday, July 2, 2020

From 4th July, pubs will be reopening their doors in the first time for months as lockdown restrictions ease. We’ve gathered some must visit pubs in Kent to revisit

Read more

Here are 12 places that may have flown under your radar before but are well worth seeking out

Read more

Kent is blessed with fine and indeed famous country houses, but over the decades has lost as many of its grander houses as it retains. A new book by Martin Easdown reveals 120 examples that have simply disappeared

Read more
Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Take our quiz to see if you can decipher the town or place in Kent from the emojis

Read more
Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Enjoy three of Kent’s best and most loved cycle rides which take in lots of the county’s beautiful coastlines

Read more
Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Thinking of moving to or within Kent? Every month we pick three stunning houses for sale that we’re sure you’ll love

Read more
Tuesday, June 23, 2020

We spoke to six of Kent’s leading business people about how they have kept going through the coronavirus

Read more
Tuesday, June 23, 2020

We caught up with Will Edge, founder and distiller at Greensand Ridge Distillery to see how he has been coping during lockdown

Read more
Tuesday, June 23, 2020

We spoke with the MD of Whiting and Hammond to see how he has been coping during lockdown

Read more
Tuesday, June 23, 2020

We spoke with baker and cookery school owner Jane Beedle to see how she has been coping during lockdown

Read more
Kent Life Food & Drink awards. Open for entries.

Latest Competitions & Offers

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad


Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook


Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Most Read

Latest from the Kent Life