For the past few months I’ve been conscious of the forty or so books piled precariously on the shelf behind the chair in which I’ve spent so many hours since April.  All thoughtfully selected by friends who know my literary taste and my love of reading, there they have sat -unopened and unread.  If books had eyebrows, they would be raising them in dismay as I leaf through the pages of Hello!, OK!, Good Housekeeping, and the occasional Grazia.  If they had lips, they would be sneering as I play Angry Birds and LineUp 2 on my iPhone.  I have tried to read, but it feels like forcing down food when you’ve lost your appetite – when even the most delicious morsel tastes like straw.  The lives of those inside the pages are of no interest to me whatsoever.  The words mean nothing.  I have found this really disconcerting.  I’ve always described myself as a reader.  It’s one of the things that defines who I am.  I’ve found it more troubling thinking of myself as someone who doesn’t read fiction than as someone who only has one leg.  Recently, I was invited to join a book group.  My initial reaction was to decline on the grounds that I don’t read novels any more.  But I just couldn’t bring myself to utter those words out loud and so I accepted.  The piles of books looked on sceptically as, very tentatively, I opened Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada and started reading.  And as I read, I felt a kind of relief wash through me.  I was a reader once more.  My current Angry Bird scores are very disappointing.