Friday 29 April 2016


I'm a cereal person. Some of my earliest memories include sitting at the table eating cereal and reading the backs of cereal packets, as a fairly fussy eater I would have happily existed on Coco Pops, my childhood cereal of choice and the cereal my Aunt always made sure she had in the house when we went to stay with her in Chester (and the cereal that sometimes still appears, usually when I'm in need of childish comfort or when I'm at my parents' house and I'm tempted by the cereals that have been bought for my 12 year old nephew). We would dig down into the box looking for plastic wrapped toys, collect coupons to send off for a branded bowl or mug.

I grew up and my cereal choices expanded through a period of bran flakes and sultana bran, into muesli, porridge, and granola (the grown-ups sugary cereal of choice) as they do. But recently I've been thinking that this might not be the best way to start my days. That sleepy bowl of cereal often means I'm hungry again shortly after I get to work, even porridge can leave me with a rumbling stomach by mid-morning.

So, for the last week I've been trying something else (something that also fits my recent realisation that drinking strong coffee first thing in the morning can, at times, send my head off in a slightly unpleasant direction and make my heart beat in a way definitely not recommended). I've been getting up and drinking a very large mug of tea from my favourite tea-drinking mug, having a shower, and then going back to the kitchen to boil two eggs using Molly's method. I make coffee while they boil then sit at the table. I sprinkle salt over the eggs, I eat and I read and, usually, I'm not hungry again until lunchtime.

I bought a Kindle last Autumn. After not understanding the appeal, after saying it wasn't for me. But this isn't the point where I say I'm a total convert, that I haven't picked up a real printed on paper book since. I bought it for those books that I will only ever read once, the books that I don't expect to develop an attachment to, the page turners where the story only really works in its first telling, the books that I bought and that sat on our bookshelves for a few years before, inevitably, they ended up at a charity shop or passed on to other people to enjoy.  And, as it turns out, that is exactly what I have ended up liking it for. It serves a purpose, and I'm sure my occasional late night reading sessions are better tolerated when I'm reading by the Kindle's light instead of the bedside light, but a lot of the time I just miss the paper. I miss flicking back through pages to remind myself what happened, I miss checking to see how much there is left in a chapter while deciding just how long that late night reading session might last, I miss book covers, and, as it turns out, I just can't seem to connect to books in the same way when they're on a screen rather than in my hands.

This morning I finished reading this. Mum passed it on to me when I was staying a few months ago. I started reading it sitting on the grass and eating my lunch, the first day it was nice enough to eat outside. I finished it wearing a flannel shirt, eating eggs and ham, drinking coffee, wondering whether it would snow today or just be cold, wet, miserable. I read it in bed, lying on my side turning the pages, each time realising that it was too late and I needed to go to sleep. I dropped it in my bag to pick up and read a few pages at a time. I read it while I made my coffee with something sitting on top to weigh down the pages when I couldn't hold it open. And as I finished it I cried for those characters and I thought about what comes from a book, whether it's just about the content or whether the act of holding a book in your hands, turning pages, making it your own can do something to you too. I like to think so.