I wish I had long tracts of uninterrupted time to wallow in a good book – but life and all its various distractions makes it almost impossible for me to spend guilt-free hours doing nothing but sit alone in a warm, comfortable place and read for hours.

I finished reading, from cover to cover, the grand total of two books in 2023 (Helen Macdonald’s excellent H Is For Hawk and Vesper Flights), both of which were read on holiday in Greece. I started both Carl Sagan’s Cosmos and Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca last week, and I expect I’ll still be reading them by Christmas.

My borderline anxiety over my underachieving reading habits will come as no surprise to Jill O’Neill, who has written an insightful post in ‘The Scholarly Kitchen’ on how the level of engagement with a book may be defined and interpreted (https://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2024/01/26/reading-it-cant-be-about-the-numbers/) – I’m with her when she cites quality over quantity. If a book’s any good, it deserves my full attention.