Last weekend, The Limey and I went to the Hay Festival of Literature, held in the teeny Welsh border town of Hay-on-Wye. I experienced a weird kind of nostalgia, being in a country with bilingual signs again.
This was my third time at the festival, and The Limey's first. I love the festival and the other two times I'd been, the weather was lovely. Plenty of clear skies to walk around town and to take hikes around the Beacons. Apparently, I'd been very very lucky- normally the start of the festival was a sign for the heavens to open up.
Well, my luck ran out this year, and it poured and poured. We did get one good day in. The Limey, wet and miserable, kept looking at me and accused me of lying to him in order get him to drive four hours to stay in a wet field with "a bunch of middle-class Guardian readers".*
But, actually, undaunted by the weather, we both really enjoyed the festival. We heard a bunch of panels and talks, from comedians, scientists, story-tellers, economists. Enjoyable and educational, and lots of it.
The festival brought to focus for me something I'd noticed about my reading habits in the past few months. For my first two Hay festivals, the people I most wanted to hear were novelists. They were who I was most interested in. This year, I didn't attend any sessions with novelists. I was most interested in the non-fiction authors; scientists, sociologists, economists especially. This, not surprisingly, pretty much mirrors what I've been reading lately. Lots of popular economics books, some history, some science, interspersed with some Agatha Christie (who won't be speaking anytime soon, eh?).
Overall, I'm reading much less, as well. I'm not sure why. I have the time, certainly. Every once in a while, I pick up some "serious fiction" but then realize I don't have the...emotional patience and energy... required when I really get into a well-written, well-constructed novel. I manage a lot of P.G. Wodehouse and Agatha Christie because I know I won't get emotionally caught up and tangled in them.
Maybe it's a phase.
*Although The Limey staunchly refuses to admit that he's now firmly a member of the middle class, he can't have missed the fact that he's married to a Guardian reader. Willful blindness to the truth.