February 06, 2018

When That Book Won't Do

Yes, hello. We read & talk books here. No, really.

Maybe you've experienced this, too. You pick up a book, read a chapter, put it down. Meh. You pick up another book - that one everyone's been talking about - and after three chapters, you're bored. You pick up the current #1 on the NYT list, the one your very best friend just loves, and it... underwhelms. You're confused - and a little worried. Is it me, or them? How can it be that everybody loves this book... except me?

It happens to me, sometimes, after the Cybils. When I've had someone else (all of you!) choosing my reading influences for three months, I can be a little... slow at picking up books on my own. It happens. You get over it. It's winter, and that's usually prime reading time... but sometimes, a case of the winter blahs means that nothing tastes right, nothing looks right, and nothing IS right - not clothes, not foods, and not stories. For me, it's an outgrowth of my seasonal affective disorder, and I hate, hate, HATE IT when I get like this. I wear out even myself with this attitude of "Everything is just crap, and I'm over it."

The thing is, IRL it often happen that you're "Meh" about books other people are fired up about. Normally our diversity of tastes and interest isn't scary but revealing, providing us with an opportunity to find new things to appreciate that might be out of our usual wheelhouse. However, when we're struggling to appreciate the intensely intellectual book that everyone is talking about, or failing to feel the love for the scorching hot romance of the year, and feeling like we'll never enjoy a book again, it gets really worrying... Still, we promise, swear, and pinky-swear, that this is perfectly normal (& we're talking to ourselves as well as you). Especially referring to that book everyone else loves, don't worry - you'll love it later. Lend it out now. Read it next month. You'll pull out of this book-block thing in time, but until you do, here are a few tips to see you through:

  • Acknowledge that THIS IS TEMPORARY. This, too, shall pass. Really. It's mood-based, and moods change.
  • Try not reading. You're not enjoying it, and isn't it time to catch up on that new Star Trek series? The Ocean's 11 movies? How about that Super Mario?
  • Rekindle your other creative senses. Sew. Paint. Sculpt. Play with squishy sand. Practice the piano that's under four feet of dust. Sing.
  • Try changing the way you read. A comic book, graphic novel, or audio book might find its golden age just now.
  • Try reading only books on paper. Between the laptop, the tablet, the phone, and everything else... you may just need an old-school breather.
  • Try narrative games. Video games which tell a story - Kingdom Hearts, Portal, The Legend of Zelda - might get you back in the game, literally.
  • Reread an old favorite. For many people, reading a book that they have almost memorized helps rekindle their love of the art.
  • Keep lists of books which don't work - and make note of their genre or style. Now, choose something outside of that genre/style.
  • Visit your local library and check out back copies of The Year's Best Fiction. Short stories or magazine articles may be about your speed.
  • Pick up a book you would NEVER read. Horror? High fantasy? Hard science? Non-fiction? Romance? Give it a whirl.
  • Visit your local library, and check out... coffee table books. Non-verbal picture books. Give the word part of your brain a rest.
  • Acknowledge that there is more to life than reading. Granted, we have no idea what that "more" might be, but we've been told this is true...

It's kicked off to be a tough winter, what with yucky politics, yucky weather, and being sick, re-sick, and sick again, all the while trying to hold onto your regular routines and responsibilities. We know! But like Spring follows winter, a reading hunger will follow a reading fast. In the meantime, we hope we've given you some hope. Hang on, friends. Book Blahs don't last forever.

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