No matter what, you shoud make time for books - Argus Friday 22nd April 2016

Posted Tuesday 26th April 2016   By Ericka Waller

SO, big news. I’ve decided to start a book club. Well actually two book clubs. One for the children at my daughter’s school and another one with my friends. However, when I went round with my invites, nearly everyone I spoke to seemed incredulous I had the time for such frivolity. “I’m too busy to read!” they proclaimed, shocked and appalled at my suggestion. “What do you think I do all day?” Um, check Facebook (I whispered to myself as I slunk away, ashamed by my obvious life of leisure. Not only do I have time to read, I have time to talk about reading too). I since found out, the average British internet user, (according to a study by GWI), spends an hour and 20 minutes per day ‘managing four individual social network accounts’, AKA – checking Facebook. If they dedicated some of this time to reading an actual book, maybe they could then post something interesting online, rather than commenting on what they had for dinner, LOL’ing at a cat getting stuck in a shoe or completing online quizzes about what kind of drunk they are.*

Anyone who says they are too busy to read is talking fiction. Mark Zuckerberg  (Facebook bigwig) spent 2015 reading a new book every two weeks, Barack Obama took 6 books on his two-week summer holiday and Theodore Roosevelt read a book a day when he was ‘busy’ and two or three when less busy during his tenure as President.

Despite ‘Facebook killing the paperback star’, book sales in the UK are growing after many years of decline, according to James Daunt, MD of Waterstones.

Audiobook sales increased by almost 40% in 2015, and services such as Audible, which use monthly subscriptions, are growing. In fact Audible members globally listened to 1.6 billion hours of content in 2015.

I was one of them. Audible is a great way to 'read' those books you have always wanted to, but ‘never had the time’. Long car journeys are now a joy, thanks to Stephen Fry's narration of Harry Potter.

I’ve finally found a way to get the husband to read books I enjoy. I put them on loudspeaker when I'm in bed and he has no choice but to listen, especially because I prod him in the ribs each time he starts snoring.

Paperbacks will always be my first love though. I fell for books as soon as I realised reading gave me the ability to time-travel, fight wars, ride unicorns, solve mysteries and win the boy. It was, and always will be an alternate-universe than I can escape to. Google and Wikipedia are great for facts, but fiction broadens your mind, stretches boundaries and can make you look at the world in a new light.

My girls love reading time (because it comes with warm milk, marmite toast, biscuits and blankets). One day I hope they will just love it because it’s a gift. “Books will be there for you after a bad day, or a row with your best friend. Books are a safe way to fall helplessly in love.” I tell them. 

*NB : I am a complete hypocrite that spends inordinate amounts of time Instagramming my dinners, Strava times and sharing Facebook gags. I do still find time to read as well though.

AND finally, a Norwegian mass-murderer has won a lawsuit claiming his human rights were violated in Prison because he was fed the same food two days in a row. 

Breivik killed 77 people and injured 300 in his 2011 massacre. He detonated a bomb in downtown Oslo, before carrying out a mass shooting on teenage students on Utoya Island where they were spending their summer after exams.

I vividly remember the interviews with the survivors. They said they only made it out alive by pretending to be dead.

Breivik said at the time the killings were 'necessary'.

Should prisoners be afforded civil liberties when they have taken lives, robbed families of loved ones? 

Breivik fought the law for fairness and his rights as a human, after taking the law into his own hands and ending the lives of so many innocent children. And he won.

According to a survey, one in four of the population of Norway were directly affected by Breivik's actions.

Comparing himself to Nelson Mandela, Breivik complained about 'cold coffee, having to use plastic cutlery and being served microwave meals' which he claims are worse than 'waterboarding'. Although he has a three-cell complex in which to exercise, play video games, watch TV and read newspapers, Judge Sekulic of the Oslo district court ruled that the Norwegian state had broken a code of the convention on human rights.

The legal fees of £35,000 will be paid by the Government. 

I am a columnist, but words fail me on this one.

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