And sometimes I can't find the energy or focus to read anything longer than a blog post.
But back to the past, and since I've previously written about the books I love, they will be excluded, as will everything Middleearth-related, as some of you *may* know that I have a bit of an obsession with the Lord of the Rings.
So I've selected a stand-out book from all the decades of my life so far. Stories or memoirs that have stuck in my head even though I may not have read them for years...
When Marnie Was There by Joan G Robinson
This is a story of a friendship between two girls in rural Norfolk that is not what it seems. But it is the otherworldly atmosphere and the loneliness and wildness of life on the sand dunes and marshes that I remember. I borrowed the book many times from the local library, but never bought it. I tried to get it later, but it was out of print. Now the story was been rediscovered and is being made into an anime by Studio Ghibli, which means that it will be amazing, according to my son. Who knows, we might even go and see the film together!
2. The Teen Years
Rogue Herries by Hugh Walpole
Much of the time I could be found wading through all the books that my parents had already bought. Including this one, the first of a series of historical novels set in the Lake District, where we holidayed every year. It also inspired me to write my first book, sadly abandoned after the first 100 or so pages..
3. My 20s
Well you can see how well-thumbed this is: I was just fascinated by this story of the dark side of life in Berlin.
4. My 30s
Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh
I have Smiley to thank for discovering this book: I was stuck in hospital waiting for her to be born with nothing else to read, so Trainspotting will always remind me of the events that changed my life for ever. But I loved Welsh's spare style, similar in ways to Roddy Doyle, another favourite author. He writes like an artist who can capture a face with a few strokes of a pen, and yet the image is burned in your memory,
5. My 40s
One of the most powerful books that I have ever read and re-read . Especially as I was in College in Manchester at the same time as the events in this book took place, I wandered the same streets, and lived close by. And I was going through huge difficulties of my own at the time of reading too. Don't pass this book by.
There seems to be a theme running through this selection: I've always been drawn to stories of survival against the odds, of good winning out over evil. Stories that leave you with a sense of hope, something I have often needed!
Of course if you'd asked me for this list on another week, I might have picked a completely different selection...
More great book choices over at Kate Takes 5 for this week's Listography.
Note: as some of you know, my beautiful daughter is not well, and I am writing this while she has a little nap. Fingers crossed we will not be in the hospital tomorrow.