Planet Retirement can sometimes be a bewildering place and with a scarcity of UK retirement blogs out there (other than those proffering financial advice) I thought I'd keep my own.

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Sunday, 24 May 2015

Fact or Fiction

I have always loved books and envisaged that in retirement there would be ample opportunity to read the piles of novels that pervade so many rooms in our home. If truth be known, whilst I certainly find the time to read more than I did before I retired, I am still making slow progress in getting through what is probably at least one lifetime's worth of reading material within our four walls.

I am a member of a reading group which meets every six weeks to discuss a chosen book and in between I always try to read another two or three books. I have fairly broad tastes in literature, reading everything from Milton and Chaucer to contemporary writers, of whom my favourites are Ian McEwan and Sebastian Faulks. I usually avoid science fiction, however, and, when in need of simple, no-thought entertainment, immerse myself in an easy to read chick-lit.

Holidays, especially whilst travelling on aeroplanes, are a great time for reading. Last week was no exception although, conscious of the limitation on baggage weight, we took the Kindle as well as a couple of paperbacks apiece. Amongst my selection was Ian McEwan's last book (now in paperback), "The Children Act." 

I know that it is a work of fiction, and perhaps it is still early days to be reading a novel about an area of work that I practised in or maybe it is a credit to the brilliance of the author, for it felt authentic. The main character has in her own words wedded herself to her career and in so doing forsaken so much, including we are told with alarming insight, even the time to care for her feet where her toe nails suffer from a fungal infection! Ugh, definitely too much information. 

For me, however, there was no fantasy in the subject matter or characters; they could have been real. It was an accurate portrayal and, therefore, reminder of  past times spent on a very different treadmill to that which I now use in the gym. Normally reading a book is a period of pure escapism; for me this was a return to working life. 

 I have of necessity, therefore,  resolved  that my future holiday reading material will bear no relationship to reality even if it does mean that I am sentencing myself to a diet of HG Wells or even modern zombie fiction, of which to date I have read nothing. I have always said that I want retirement to be a cocktail of new experiences!


  1. I really like Ian McEwan and have read all his novels. I thought The Children's Act was good (Atonement is my favorite). But it had absolutely no personal connections for me. There are a lot of academic novels out there (generally written by English profs) but usually they seem more fiction than fact to me.

    1. Yes Atonement is a beautiful book and was a great choice for a reading group discussion a few years ago as well as making a very moving film. My favourite Ian McEwan novel, however, is "Saturday." That said what I really admire about his writing is his ability to change style in every book that I have read and to an extent that seems almost extraordinary when compared to most authors. As for novels about academia, I am afraid that the only ones that spring to mind (McEwan's "Solar" excepted) have been from the humour genre; now that at least must say something about the joys of your profession!