my love of literature during confinement

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Tony mortimer

4 minutes to read

I want to use my newfound love of literature while in lockdown to inspire young boys to read.

Unprecedented times call for unprecedented action, at least that’s what they say. There I was, like the rest of us, thrown in the middle of a pandemic. So what to do? I know, I’m going to read a novel and force myself to finish it, I thought.

What’s the big deal you might ask? Well, I had never read a novel before I can remember it, which may sound absurd.

In fact, I never found it strange until I told people about it and found out that I was quite alone in this little feat. I mean, I read books, yeah, a lot of them, but a real novel? Surely not. I couldn’t think of anything more boring.

Often I saw people on vacation – do you remember that? Their heads got stuck in a thick novel, wasting their time. Dive into the sea, I thought, as I stared at a reader who, for me, was failing to relax.

How tiring it must be to be read, instead of enjoying life, not realizing that they were probably so wrapped up in their book that they themselves escaped into another world and enjoyed every minute of it. A world where they could become so attached to a character or setting that they could wish for the moment they could meet again. Overwhelmed, not by the desire to dive into a communal sea or pool, but to return to a world exactly where they left off. Taken in a literary locomotive to a faraway land, perhaps more exotic than where they were.

And then I took my first novel: Secrets of the Greek Revival, a ghostly and mysterious reading. I felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment when I finished it and was totally hooked from that point on.

These worlds between the ink-laden lines were a huge relief

In the past, I was oblivious to what I lacked and I have always favored the cinema. The good thing about a novel about a movie is that a novel gives you most of the picture but not all of it, letting you invent the rest with your own imagination.

The downside is that the vast array of worlds are way more than we could ever hope to visit, more characters and storylines than we could ever discover. Not in one lifetime.

Novels have helped me immensely during this pandemic, providing escape and a host of other mental benefits such as relaxation. All at a time when movement and socialization have never been so restricted. Agatha Christie’s And then there was none; Flower girls by Alice Clark Platts; The best werewolf short stories 1800-1849 by Andrew Barger; The fear bubble by Ant Middleton. that of Oscar Wilde Complete short stories; Jk rowling Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone; Lady waiting by Anne Glenconner; Stephen king’s On the writing.

These worlds between the ink-laden lines were a huge relief. In fact, I fell in love with the novels so much that I finished the first draft of my own book. It was inspired by both my grandson and an article I read that recounted how many boys are seen in bookstores, but sadly many walk away empty-handed. It seems they can’t find something that fits. Perhaps there is a shortage of books for young male readers? Therefore, I hope to write one that they can enjoy. Something exciting, adventurous. Something that can take them away from their world, if only for a short time.

So if life is chaotic or stressful, you could do a lot worse than immerse yourself in a distant sci-fi galaxy or a cozy country village mystery. There really is something for everyone; I only wish I found out long before I did.

As it comes from the chaos that was and still is this pandemic, perhaps it is appropriate to sign with these words from Sun Tzu: “In the midst of chaos comes an opportunity.”

Tony Mortimer is a former member of boy band East 17 and award-winning songwriter Ivor Novello.

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