Alan Parry – Lapsed Reader


I love books and I love reading. I do. I promise. I’m not just saying it! I do, really!

But I am something of a lapsed reader. A lazy reader, even. I genuinely struggle to find the time to read for pleasure as much as I would like to.

I still read, of course I do. I am an editor and a Lecturer of English. I cannot escape it; I do read all of the time. I read submissions of poetry and prose. I read flash fiction and other potential site content. I read essays and long form written responses to extracts of texts which I have also read and determined fit for study. I read emails and newspaper articles too.

Despite all of this, my reading of literature for pleasure has diminished, and I do not quite know how to arrest this slump. This is not the first time this has happened to me either. Indeed, the last time I jumped back in with some Dan Brown, which is relatively engaging and entertaining, if culturally barren. Brown’s work is fast-paced and light, and served as a spur, one that I am loathed to admit to, but in the spirit of transparency I felt that I had to be honest. From there I would go on to read 1984 and some other modern classics, A Kind of Loving and Hangover Square soon followed. Now, here I am again, wanting to read. Desperate to read  But somehow unable to read. It is an inertia, of sorts.

I knew this crisis was creeping up on me. That’s why for Christmas 2021 I asked my wife to buy me a Kindle. She kindly obliged. And I picked up several books in the sales afterwards to read; John Fante’s Ask the Dust and Jimmy Carr’s Before & Laughter were polished off in just a couple of days. Then I embarked on Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, but after about 150 pages, I came to a screeching halt. And not because I wasn’t enthralled. I was. I still am. I will go back to it, eventually –  when the mood strikes me. But I want more than anything to find a way to stop this happening in the future. I should say that even though my reading habits are volatile, I do listen consistently to audiobooks, but do they even count?

So, I suppose I’m looking for inspiration. I’m looking for book suggestions. Books that I will not be able to leave hanging. I want you to inundate me with lists of books I won’t be able to put down. I want you to thrill me! Can you help me find my mojo all over again? I like realism, I like mid-twentieth-century American literature. I like pulp fiction. I love the Beats. I enjoy grit, and grime, and northern British writers. I especially enjoy a bildungsroman, a coming-of-age tale. What have you got for me?

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