Today I am reading stories full of eloquent rage and imaginative cursing. I can’t help it. British politics is once again spewing ugliness and stupidity across our emotional landscape in the form of the ‘debate’ over the leadership of the Labour Party. As during the general election, I’m coping by reading Warren Ellis and Darrick Robertson’s Transmetropolitan, a book that pre-emptively savaged the ugly, empty politics we seem collectively to have accepted.
Last week I was reading Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter’s The Long Mars, a gentle bimble through fascinating alternate worlds, in which conflict, usually the essential driver of story, is flattened from stark peaks to gentle undulations, fading into the background of the world building. It was just what I needed to wind down at the end of some intense working days.
In between, I re-read Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s run on Young Avengers, mostly for the bright and snarky dialogue of its characters, perfect fun weekend reading.
All of which made me think about the connection between reading and emotions. What we read can change or support our emotional state. It can exhilarate, inspire or even depress us. Ignoring how we’re feeling as we decide what to read seems like a waste of powerful emotional energy.
I realised that I should pay less attention to what I think I ought to read, and more attention to what mood I’m in. If I read to suit my mood then I’ll read more and enjoy more, and it’ll help me deal with the day. If I go against the mood, I just end up putting books down and reaching for the easy options of TV and the internet.
So what mood are you in today, and what will you read to suit that mood?