Personal Updates,  Random

Back Home, Back To Reading

I have now been back Home for a week, and things have changed in unexpected, beautiful ways. Back at CrimeFest15 I was asked by a few people whether Books & Reviews was still running or not. The last six months have been quite an adventure, and my reading suffered from it. I tried to keep up with my PhD reading, and that left me feeling exhausted once I was back home, so my non-official reading was almost non-existent.

However, a wonderful trip to Swansea and the lovely bunch of people I met there have radically changed this for me. And I know this because I’m back to reading. It is not that I have to read, I want to. I need to. Watching TV does not work anymore – at least not as much as it did three months ago – and I feel a hunger for books, for stories, and for words. And it is thanks to people who I can now call my friends that I can do this. If any of you ever stumble upon this post, thank you 🙂


My first book on my back-to-reading era is Forensics by Val McDermid. This book was created as a companion to the Wellcome Trust exhibition with the same name that has been running since February in the organisation’s building in London. McDermid does a terrific job revising the history of forensic science and making it available for non-scientific readers. I have even had the pleasure of commenting my reading with her on Twitter, because apart from doing excellent research, she consistently uses ‘she’ instead of ‘he’ to refer to generic individuals, and… it was about time!

As for more reading, I am writing this on a stay-at-home Saturday evening, counting the minutes until writing has made it for me to rush back to my To-Be-Read pile and pick another book to enjoy. I have never been good at parallel reading, but if I’ve learned something these past months is that things change. And that’s OK.



  • Claire 'Word by Word'

    An inspiring post Elena and I’m not surprised you’ve reconnected with reading after that wonderful visit, books are great and meeting the inspiration behind them can be such an inspiration.

    I often have more than one book on the go at the same time, though usually different genres, I was just reading Frankenstein and then in an afternoon veered off and read the latest Peirene Press book, Reader for Hire and had a book of short essays that I’d read a few of before bed. Sometimes if there is only one choice, I’m not inclined to read it at certain times, so having a choice can work well. But I probably wouldn’t read two contemporary novels at the same time.

    • Elena

      Thank you, Claire. I knew the trip would do me good, but I never expected to have my old, happy, bookish self so quickly!

      I often have to manage a few books at the same time, because writing a thesis on crime fiction makes you read a lot. But I usually draw a line between my pleasure/free time reading, and my professional reading. Not that it matters, because they usually overlap… This year I have also discovered that mixing a non-fiction book with a novel makes me read more, probably because I approach both texts differently, while keeping on reading. You know how it goes, the more you do it, the more you want it 🙂

  • MarinaSofia

    So pleased you got your mojo back – a trip like that (and meeting so many enthusiastic readers and writers) is bound to re-energise you. I also have more than one book on the go. For instance, at the moment I am reading ‘Tales of Genji’ (if I had only that to read, I think I’d go mad), ‘Girl at War’ and a book in a different language. That way, things don’t get mixed up in my brain. Something old, something new, something borrowed. Maybe something blue (crime fiction, that means) later.

    • Elena

      Thank you, MarinaSofia. It feels good to be back, I’ve missed you all!

      For I can see, I was being a weirdo having just one book going at the time! I was afraid – like you – of getting things mixed up in my brain, but, as I wrote above, the fiction + non-fiction reading is going really well.

      Are you enjoying ‘Girl at War’? Saw it recently reviewed by Naomi, should check it out as soon as possible.

  • amanda

    It can be a challenge to get back into the swing of reading after being in a slump, so I’m glad to hear that your trip was just the thing! I would imaging that a book on forensics could be really fascinating (as long as it didn’t bog down in details), and I’m sure is right in your wheelhouse. Enjoy!

    • Elena

      It was, Amanda, but there’s nothing better for me than my love for forensic science to get back on track! And a chapter actually made me cry, so…

  • Alice

    Hoorah for back to reading – I agree with Jessica, it’s lovely to see you back blogging and back to loving reading again. (Although, I will say sometimes TV can really hit the spot when you’re feeling a little down or need a change).

  • Keishon

    Well, welcome back, Elena. I’ve always heard that traveling is one of the rewarding experiences. I’m kind of in a reading funk at the moment and am trying new things. I can’t wait to get that hunger for books feeling again that you describe in your post. I’m the opposite, TV has worked where reading hasn’t been the greatest. I have great books open but I can’t stay engaged or focused on them. So, a brief break is helping and reading outside of the genre so far is working. I am glad to hear you are energized and ready to go onward and beyond.

    • Elena

      Hi, Keishon! I’m sorry you’re going through this, but I did during the last few months, and there is a way out! Let yourself come back to reading whenever your mind and body are ready. You are a voracious reader, so you’ll be back to your books sooner than you think.

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