The sun came back to Scotland this week, and with it did my deep, fundamental desire to read.
It’s something I’ve come to realise in retrospect; when winter rolls around and the days get darker and colder, I lose some of my interest in reading. When the nights get longer, I find myself enjoying the comforts of film and TV more than books.
I still read through winter, of course, and always enjoy it overall, but it becomes something that I have to really hunker down and focus on doing, rather than letting my brain run wild with it.
But when the sun begins to shine, and the weather looks a little less gloomy, I start to really enjoy reading again. I get back into loving the process of just sitting down and not thinking about all of the other things I probably should be doing. I remember the joy of losing myself in the pages of a book that’s been on my TBR for months. It becomes something second nature again.
This week, I feel I’ve probably read more than I did across the entirety of February.
There’s something about the weather when it comes to my reading life. I’ve never paid much attention to it, but when I think back on some of my favourite reading memories, it’s interesting to notice the backdrop of spring and summer.
When I was on holiday with my family and reading by the pool whatever book I’d bought in the airport; when I was too young to be reading Stephen King, but read Pet Sematary by the sunlight through the trees anyway; when I was first dipping into YA and reading City of Bones and Throne of Glass in the fading heat of a long summer’s day.
As I found myself this past week listing back to Evan Winter’s The Fires of Vengeance, I also found my eyes absently gazing towards my Wheel of Time shelf, looking at the last book I read, Crossroads of Twilight, and the four I have left to read in the series.
Seeing them made me want to drop everything I was doing and pick up the next one. I wanted to throw aside everything I’m reading now and just fall back into that world. I couldn’t quite explain why I’d had this desire to jump back into those books all of a sudden until I looked out of the window.
I think one of the reasons I’ve began to notice this correlation between good weather and my deep desire to read is that series.
I started The Wheel of Time in October 2019, but really got into what makes the series so special, and so loved by fantasy fans, around spring 2020.
Thinking about the series again, trying to remember where I was and what was happening, how my favourite characters were faring, looking at some epic fan-art on Reddit, I couldn’t help but be overcome with memories of last March when I was reading The Shadow Rising and really, truly falling in love with the series.
When I first got into the depths of the Wheel of Time, the sun was shining and I was sitting outside in a t-shirt reading. Days were long and warm. The good weather had made its mark, and it had come at the exact time that I was realising that these books were going to mean a lot more to me than just another series I’d finally gotten off of my TBR list.
I vividly remember days in early April sitting in the sun and reading Rand’s journey across the Aiel Wastes to return to Cairhien. Following along as the heroes overcame the challenges before them, but also as they failed. Reading a series which could turn so dark, which shone a light on the futilities of the main characters and presented situations that could seem so dire and unmanageable, at a time when the weather outside my window spoke of the exact opposite … it was a strange time, but a perfect one.
In some ways, I think this time of the year will forever be intrinsically linked to this series, and I’ll never be unhappy about that.
Over the year and a half since I started it, The Wheel of Time has come to mean so much to me. When I first read the first book, The Eye of the World, it pulled me out of any troubles I was looking at in the real world and into this new world that I never knew was there the whole time, waiting for me.
The fourth, fifth, and sixth books (regarded by some to be one of the best “trilogies” of books in all of fantasy) were there for me when the world was going through some pretty well-known changes last spring.
Even as I made my way through the “slog” of the series going into autumn and then winter, I still felt so connected to the books, to the world and the characters that had, over a treacherously long yet deceptively quick year, brought me so much joy and respite.
I’m sure that, like years before, in months to come I’ll lose my drive to read for hours at a time every day. The books that I have now on my TBR that I can’t wait to get to, and know I’ll fly through over the summer, will soon become too daunting again to consider picking up later in the year.
For now, I’ll enjoy them. I’ll savour the time that I’ll spend sitting in the sun, feeling the warmth as I make my way through the ending of The Wheel of Time, and to whatever waits beyond.