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Chronicles of a Cranky Reader

September 12, 2010

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I don’t know what’s gotten into me lately, but I’ve definitely been in a reading slump since August! That’s what initially convinced me to decide on a month of reading without ‘rules,’ and while I read some marvelous books, I must say I certainly wasn’t reading as much as usual. I finally went into a kind of manic reading drive the last week, which makes it seem like things were more normal, but then September arrived. Except, I seem to have decided that September isn’t actually here yet…I accidentally accrued some library fines (nothing too bad), because I knew the books/DVDs weren’t due until September 7th, and my brain had no idea that actually we’re further into the month than that. My reading appears to have fallen into the same nonexistent limbo as September.

I keep picking up books, reading them for awhile, and then just thinking ‘meh.’ I can objectively see that these books should be delighting me, but instead I just seem to get all cranky and start questioning the purpose of reading, why I should care, etc., etc. I’m reminded of Scout’s description of reading as breathing, in that you don’t miss it until you can’t do it, and my reading malaise is spreading itself into a general malaise, which is so silly and frustrating. However, I think I’ve found the silver bullet, and with any luck I’ll be back to being a happy reader (and thus book blogger) soon.

I’ve been craving fantasy, so I decided to reread a book I absolutely adored the first time around: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. I’m almost 200 pages in (I have the mass market paperback that’s over 1,000 pgs), and so far I’m entranced. I also plan to pop by the library and stock up on Diana Wynne Jones, since I’ve been dying to read more of her since The Chronicles of Chrestomanci.

In the meantime, I shall be attempting to get back into the swing of blogging! I already have a post in my head composed of lessons I learned from my August reading experiment, but I feel oddly out of practice. I haven’t even recorded any of the books I’ve managed to read this month or all of the books that I’ve begun reading and then abandoned at various stages since the experiment began. But I think part of my malaise stems from neglecting my blog, so I hope I can manage to resuscitate it! I suppose I should begin by actually checking my e-mail, eh?

78 Comments leave one →
  1. September 12, 2010 3:09 am

    I know exactly how you feel, actually. I have I think 12 reviews waiting to be written and that is an amount I have never had to deal with before (I always just write as soon as I finish because I don’t read that much as some bloggers) and I just can’t seem to get into actually writing them.

    I am glad to see you reappearing! And I hope you will find a way back into reading (although it seems you have) and blogging soon! But if you don’t for a month or so, it’s okay, I mean, as long as you’re feeling well, that’s all that matters in the end, right?

    • September 13, 2010 3:40 am

      I hope you find your reviewing mojo soon! ;) A backlog of reviews isn’t fun, is it? Maybe you should try a different style/approach (write a letter to the author/one of the characters, do six word reviews, etc.) to see if that clears things up?

  2. Mome Rath permalink
    September 12, 2010 3:11 am

    Sounds like a good start. Welcome back — you’ve been missed online! I hope you’ve had some good diversions outside of reading. And I hope you find some books that really excite you. Is your move all done now?
    Also, nice photo of a cranky kid!

    • September 13, 2010 3:40 am

      Thank you! I have been doing fun things: we haven’t moved yet (that’s the first week of October), but we’ve been exploring Colorado like tourists. ;)

  3. September 12, 2010 3:41 am

    Good to see you back!

    Once you’re back into reading, the blogging will come naturally. Though it’s interesting that you found reading without rules a problem, maybe doing the reverse again would be a good thing?

    • September 13, 2010 3:41 am

      Thanks! I’m definitely going back to more structured reading; it suits me better. I have changed my approach a bit though; I’ll be writing a post about it soon! And you’re right that blogging follows reading; that’s why I decided not to push it. ;)

  4. September 12, 2010 5:20 am

    Eva, I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to see you here!!!! Seriously, I was about at the outer limits of my willpower to not email you and make sure everything was okay. (I feel like I must be such a nuisance when I email you every time you take a break from blogging. You’re always so sweet, and never insinuate that I am a nuisance, of course…but I tend to feel that way anyway.) Anyway, I am so very very very happy that you’re back!!!

    I’m so sorry about the reading malaise though…I hate that feeling so very much. And it really does seem to have an easy time creeping into other parts of life, and just leaving one feeling totally blah. I do hope Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is just the magic you need! :D

    • September 13, 2010 3:42 am

      Debi!! You’re not a nuisance, I adore getting e-mails from you, and that’s that. :p

  5. September 12, 2010 5:53 am

    I was just thinking that it’s been a while since I’ve seen a post from you. It’ll be good to have you back in the mix again.

  6. September 12, 2010 6:03 am

    I was so pleased to see a post from you pop up in my Google Reader! Hi! I’m sorry you’ve been having a crappy reading month, but it sounds like Susanna Clarke and DWJ are good for what ails you. :) I’ve been having a hard time making myself sit down and write reviews myself, even though I’ve been reading loads of books and getting a backlog of books to write about. I keep sitting down to write a review and then thinking, Or I could go watch Veronica Mars for a while. And then I do that instead. :p

    • September 13, 2010 3:43 am

      Hi Jenny! I’m totally on the DWJ love train now. ;) And isn’t Veronica Mars awesome?! Definitely more fun than writing reviews. hehe

  7. September 12, 2010 6:06 am

    I’ve been in the same lackadaisical reading mode. I pick things up, put them down, ho hum! I think I’m finally settling into a groove with Wilkie Collins and Nicole Krauss. About time!

    • September 13, 2010 3:43 am

      Yay for Wilkie! And I really do need to read Krauss one of these days. :)

  8. September 12, 2010 6:25 am

    I was just hoping yesterday that I’d see a post from you soon. I’m participating in the RIP Challenge and I remembered your posts from last year’s challenge – I just finished The Haunting of Hill House yesterday, which I think you read last year. :) Anyway, great to see you! I’ve had reading slumps like that. I remember one in pre-blogging days, where none of the books I picked up from the library seemed to satisfy. This time also coincided with the height of my anxiety about being unemployed and I wonder if that was related.

    Anyway, I look forward to whatever posts you decide to do!

    • September 13, 2010 3:44 am

      Thanks Christy! I read Haunting of Hill House a couple years ago: isn’t it great? I already started my RIP reading, and I shall be doing a post about it very, very soon. :D

      I definitely think life anxiety can get in the way of reading satisfaction, although for me usually I escape my anxiety by getting lost in a good book. I think that’s why I get so panicky when I have a reading slump!

  9. September 12, 2010 6:30 am

    Yay, Eva’s back!

    I think you’ll enjoy Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell; it’s very good, and I’m glad the slow beginning isn’t a problem for you. Hopefully, it’ll snap you right out of that reading malaise. Why do we read? Because stories are how humans make sense of the world and communicate with each other. We’re all storytellers on one level, and we’re all actors on one level; that’s why you very rarely meet people who just don’t like music, movies, or books. Not particular ones, but the mediums.

    • September 13, 2010 3:45 am

      Thanks Claire! I loved JS & Mr. N the first time around, so I hope I love it again. :) Love your ideas on why we read!

  10. September 12, 2010 6:55 am

    Sometimes I think it’s difficult to know what we want to read. I’ll be reading book after book after book and they’re all disappointing, even though I know normally they wouldn’t be. Then finally a book comes along and I think, “Oh, THIS is what I’ve been looking for.” Well, it would have been much easier if I had known all along what exactly it was I was craving.

    I love that picture for this post. The whole time I imagined that little boy reading the words and it made me chuckle. :)

    • September 13, 2010 4:17 am

      lol! I totally identified with that first paragraph. And isn’t that kid hilarious? I imagine his mood wasn’t improved by his mom taking pictures…

  11. September 12, 2010 7:04 am

    Miss you Eva. Hope that you find your beat again. And also, are you still taking classes?

    • September 13, 2010 4:17 am

      Thanks Christina! I think I’ve found it. :) Nope-I’m not currently in any classes.

  12. September 12, 2010 7:10 am

    I’m glad to see you’re back, but I think this should remind all of us that it’s okay to take a break sometimes – from reading and/or blogging.

    • September 13, 2010 4:19 am

      I agree: I’m learning how to lose the guilty feeling breaks usually cause!

  13. September 12, 2010 7:12 am

    You’re back! So good to see you here. :)

    I’ve been reading voraciously this month, but have had no motivation to actually write reviews. Which is a problem, because I’ve got a lot of tour dates coming up and review copies I’ve read that I need to post about. Every time I sit down to write I feel so blah, like I have nothing to say and nothing I say will come out right anyway.

    Anyway, good luck with your own reading slump! It happens to the best of us and you’ll get through it. :)

    • September 13, 2010 4:19 am

      Missed you Heather! That’s part of why I’ve decided no tours for me: I hate trying to do a post when I’m uninspired!

  14. September 12, 2010 7:35 am

    I’ve had Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell on my bookshelves practically since it came out… I take it it’s definitely a b0ok I should read then!

    • September 13, 2010 4:20 am

      You should definitely read it! It’s such fun. :D

  15. September 12, 2010 7:57 am

    I go through reading slumps all the times. I always find it’s best not to force the issue, and take a break if that’s what my brain wants. Generally it doesn’t last too long, but there really is nothing worse than feeling like reading is a an obligation rather than a pleasure.

    I’m glad you’re back though and doing ok! I was getting worried about you!

    • September 13, 2010 4:28 am

      Agreed: I try not to force things! Instead I watch TV on DVD, lol.

      I’m glad I’m back too: I saw BookPage at my library couple weeks ago and thought of you. :)

  16. September 12, 2010 8:08 am

    I’m a bit of a lurker on your site and haven’t commented before, but I wanted to tell you I’m glad you posted again! I really enjoy your posts and I’ve used some of your reviews to influence my ever-growing “what-to-read-next” list. My husband read Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell and I’ve been meaning to read it myself. I guess that will go on my list too :)

    -Jennifer of

    • September 13, 2010 4:29 am

      Thanks so much Jennifer! And do put Jonathan Strange on your TBR list. :D

  17. September 12, 2010 8:16 am

    Welcome back Eva! I absolutely adored Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell when I read it. It’s absolutely wonderful! I’ve been meaning to do a reread of it. Hope it pulls you out of your funk!

  18. September 12, 2010 8:40 am

    Eva! Welcome back :) So happy to see you again. Fantasy is pretty awesome, so I do hope that it helps pull you out of your slump. It can be hard to break out of those odd slumps sometimes.

    • September 13, 2010 4:31 am

      Isn’t fantasy magic? I think during slumps, I go back to my childhood faves (fantasy & mystery!).

  19. September 12, 2010 9:12 am

    Ugh, I hate reading slumps. I think I might be kind of in one myself, though I did finally pick up a book and stick with it. It’s doubly disappointing because I had a pretty decent reading August and then the month turned into September, and nothing I picked up could satisfy me. Then I start wondering, “Is it me or is it the books?” so I even hesitate to offload the offending books because of that niggling “mayyyybe I would like them later when I’m feeling more agreeable,” and then I can’t even reduce Mt. TBR. I’ve even noticed that I become a bit insufferable when I’m not in the middle of a decent book. So, me not being in a reading slump is not only of importance for me but for the poor innocent victims who end up being around me when I don’t have a book to escape into from time to time!

    Anyhow, here’s hoping both of us get out of this slumpy-ness and back to good reading soon! :)

    • September 13, 2010 4:32 am

      I’m the SAME way: my poor family has to deal with my sulking around the house unable to get into a book. Sending anti-slump vibes your way!

  20. September 12, 2010 9:17 am

    I totally get this! I’ve been having all kinds of reading issues as well and am also shocked we are so far into September!!! Hope things get better for you!

    • September 13, 2010 4:32 am

      Thanks Amy! Hope your issues get sorted out!

  21. September 12, 2010 9:46 am

    I have had such a hard time reading this year as well — my whole year is off, my reading count is down, I haven’t really fallen in love with much of anything. I am giving up and am just going to read whatever suits my fancy for the rest of the year, even if it’s just silly magical-realism romances that my sister-in-law handed off to me (which normally is NOT MY THING). I think too much stress and too many things on my mind. However, I have started experimenting with audiobooks and am finding that very relaxing while doing things like cooking, or resting with my eyes closed. But yeah. Nothing like falling off the reading wagon — it throws everything else off.

    • September 13, 2010 4:32 am

      Go for it (re: reading whatever books work for you)! :D Aren’t audiobooks wonderful? Let me know if you want any recs!

  22. Christa permalink
    September 12, 2010 10:10 am

    Welcome back! I’ve sadly been in a reading slump since April but I think it is mainly due to my going back to work full time and I’ve been struggling getting use to it again. I often feel too tired at night to read and just end up watching TV after dinner.

    • September 13, 2010 4:33 am

      Thanks! I imagine when I’m healthy enough to work, there will be a rough adjustment period! So far, Jonathan Strange is a wonderful reread. :)

  23. Christa permalink
    September 12, 2010 10:12 am

    Oh I forgot to say that I loved Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norrell and have often thought about going back for a reread. You will have to let us know if it was perfect reread! :)

  24. September 12, 2010 11:18 am

    There’s nothing wrong with taking a break when you don’t feel like blogging. It’s not a job, after all! Sometimes I have to remind myself of that as well. I finally got back in my blogging groove recently but certainly wasn’t feeling it for a while.

    I’m glad that you loved Chrestomanci too! I still need to pick up the next two books for re-read.

    • September 13, 2010 4:35 am

      I agree: breaks are good! I didn’t feel guilty about this one, which is progress, right? Yep: I’m spreading the Chrestomanci love…when I move to Texas, I want my sister to read them too. hehe

  25. September 12, 2010 11:23 am

    Welcome back Eva. I’ve been a cranky reader too so knowing there are more out there like me, makes me feel a bit less guilty about it. Sometimes we just have to go with the flow and not force ourselves to do anything in particular. I do look forward to hearing your thoughts on the books you do manage to read.

  26. September 12, 2010 11:37 am

    Eva, good to have you back, even your cranky-reader self :) I think every book-lover feels like that sooner or later, like nothing really works. Hang in there! I think you did good in returning to sure-bets.

    Looking forward to having you back blogging on a regular basis :)

  27. September 12, 2010 11:47 am

    Hello! I go through that as well, especially when I start thinking ‘why I should care’ and my purpose in reading the book. You’re not alone! I’m impressed you’re re-reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. It’s huge! But then I loved it too and may re-read it again one day once I’ve made a dent in my TBR list.

    • September 13, 2010 4:47 am

      I love huge books, so the idea of rereading one is just extra special lol And I’m glad I’m not the only one who occasionally questions reading goals!

  28. September 12, 2010 12:51 pm

    Fantasy is always good to turn to (at least for me) when in a reading slump!

  29. September 12, 2010 2:14 pm

    Welcome back ! Sorry about the slump. Can’t wait to start reading your reviews once again !!

  30. September 12, 2010 2:46 pm

    Glad to know you are ok, even if you are a bit cranky! ;)

    Reading (and blogging) should be fun, not a burden, so take your time. I guess, reading exhaustion happenes to us all one time or another. I’m looking forward to reading your upcoming posts.


    • September 13, 2010 5:03 am

      Thanks Tiina! I thought of you the other day when Purge arrived for me at the library. :) I’m about 100 pages in, but I had to take a break due to the subject matter. It’s an incredible book so far though: thanks so much for the rec.

  31. September 12, 2010 2:52 pm

    It’s lovely to see you back, I was worried that you were ill all of a sudden again. You know, I’m beginning to think that sometimes we even need a break from blogging – that it does interfere with reading time, which ironically is why we are blogging, about books! So maybe you needed exactly what you gave yourself, time to read for pleasure, not for challenges. I do know what you mean by challenges making you read, because I notice the same thing for me – I read more because of them. However, this year I cut back – though I was going to join the Jane Austen one and missed the deadline – and I’m reading for pleasure in the challenges I am in too. Take it easy, and yaay for books that bring us out of our malaise!

    • September 13, 2010 5:04 am

      Thanks Susan!

      Blogging does interfere with reading time, which is definitely the height of ironies! If only we could squeeze a couple more hours into every day…

  32. September 12, 2010 2:57 pm

    Eva, I’m glad to see you back! I think Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is the perfect way to get over a slump and I can’t wait to see what you have to say about your August reads.

  33. September 12, 2010 3:03 pm

    I’m glad to see you posting again! I think we all get in a reading slump from time to time.

  34. September 12, 2010 5:00 pm

    You’ve read so many books that you’ve got to expect some jaded reading time now and then. Have you ever taken a long break from fiction? I consider myself having a serious fiction habit, and I include television, movies, plays, lyrics, poems, and audio books as part of my fiction habit. Sometimes abstaining from fiction brings back fiction’s potency.

    • September 13, 2010 5:05 am

      You know, I read a lot of nonfiction for awhile in August just back to back. :) But I don’t think I could go without fiction for more than a couple weeks, and if I include movies & tv shows, I don’t think I’d last more than a day!

  35. stacybuckeye permalink
    September 12, 2010 7:15 pm

    Sometimes a change in genre does the trick for me too. I’m sure you’ll be back to your reading and blogging self when you’re ready. We’ll still be here :)

  36. September 13, 2010 12:45 am

    Slumps and finicky reading is always worrisome. I know it’s a cycle, but when you’re in that phase, it feels like it’ll never end and you can’t always pinpoint what the silver bullet is or will be. Glad to see you back, crankypants and all!

    • September 13, 2010 5:06 am

      Thanks Bybee! So true re: stuck in the middle and worrying it will never end. I even thought to myself ‘What if I’m not a reader anymore?! What am I instead?!’ lol

  37. September 13, 2010 3:39 am

    I was in the same situation in August – didn’t pick up a book for a whole week, and then couldn’t concentrate on anything for long. I finally managed to break out of the slump by picking up a book and reading it all the way through even though I started losing interest by page 20. By page 100 the book had become entertaining, and after I finished it I found the slump was over.

    • September 13, 2010 5:28 am

      I’m glad you got through your slump! Sometimes forcing yourself to keep reading is the best thing to do. :)

  38. bookgazing permalink
    September 13, 2010 6:25 am

    Oh I hate malaise, it spreads into all areas of life so easily like a horribly wet fog. Fantasy sounds like a fun way to burn it away and I’d love to hear what you learnt from reading at whim when you get back to blogging.

  39. September 13, 2010 6:27 am

    I just finished the first volume in the Chrestomanci series on the weekend, so I can completely understand how a story like that could reignite your reading magic. What a terrific tale: I only wish I’d discovered it as a girl!

  40. September 14, 2010 6:50 pm

    Sometimes, I think, we need to allow ourselves some freedom… even with our reading practices. When I finished school a few years ago, I had to step away from reading for several months before I could truly enjoy it again. It just takes time, but it’ll pass. You’ll be reading with fervor and blogging again before you know it!

  41. September 15, 2010 7:08 am

    Oh I feel your reading slump pain. I’ve been reading long books which means my reading count is down, and when I finish them, my brain is struggling in mustering up something to say about them. I’m forcing myself to post at least once a week…much different than my goal this time last year to post every weekday. Ah, maybe as the seasons shift, my blogging inspiration will too.


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