Read The Augustan Novel In Knee Breeches

Read the religious tract in a decent suit of rusty black broadcloth.

Read the semi-pornographic French novel in a diaphanous gown drenched in cheap scent. Read the murder mystery in a rumpled suit in a deserted casino. Read the science fiction novel in a lab coat.

In short, do not attempt to see what the author was showing you if you are not prepared to help your imagination out with some little theatre. You can do this with the circumstances of the day:

a. Your clothing should be that of the period in which the book is set. If you are going to read high romance and medieval fiction, you are going to have to do some cutting and sewing. There are lots of firms that sell period costume from long ago, so you should be able to read Machiavelli in the right sort of doublet, as well as Thackeray in gentleman’s garb.

b. Your reading room should be of the same period. You can not be expected to construct and entire castle to read ” Lochinvar ” but you can repair to your local ruins or period building to do this.

Later periods can be catered to with a large wing chair, side table, and window light.

c. Have decent refreshment to hand as you read – in keeping with the book. Wine for the renaissance, scotch whisky for Burns, rye for Spillane. If you insist on reading ” Pollyanna ” the buttermilk and sentiment is on you.

d. Music or sound is also good – not as a complete counter to the book, but as a low accompaniment. This is available for all periods and genres from many sources. Pick your music to match the words.

e. Read daytime words in the daytime and night words at night. Twilight and sunset are also good, as is the cocktail hour.

f. Read enough, but not too much. If you need to do the entire novel in one sitting, prepare yourself, but if you plan it out chapter by chapter, you’ll have time to recover and reflect.

In the end, you’ll have read what the author wrote and understood more of what was being said, than if you just tried to cram something in on the bus to work. Treat your reading time as an active and exciting endeavour and it will be far better.

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