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Finding Myself Again

February 2, 2012

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Y’all, January went from being quite a lovely month to one of the most challenging I’ve had in a while for one simple reason: a gigantic reading slump. It was brought on by a flare-up, but even when the flare-up had calmed down, I just couldn’t get back into the groove. I’d pick up a book and not be able to focus long enough to read a single page. I went about twenty days without reading anything longer than a magazine article (do not ask me why my brain could deal with The Economist but not a book). It was terrifying; I began to fear that something had gotten permanently messed up, that I was never going to be able to read again, and that I was going to fundamentally lose myself. Without books, my optimism and sense of purpose in life flee, I start to feel bored and useless and petty. It’s awful. Thank God, on Tuesday something finally broke, and since then I’ve been merrily reading up a storm, finishing all kinds of books that I can’t wait to tell you about. And suddenly, I’m once again full of curiousity, hope, and wonder. I know it sounds trite, but I deeply believe that books have saved my life, or at least my happiness, which at the end of the day rather amounts to the same thing.

I hope that I never face such a long reading drought again (and I’d be grateful for any slump-busting suggestions you might have), especially at the beginning of the year when I don’t have a backlog of titles to blog about in the meantime! Apologies to those I owe e-mails to (including several who have sent lists for my new series: I’m up to six participants, which I’m thrilled about); I will be working my way through replying to them. In the meantime, you can definitely expect regular blogging to resume! I’ve begun re-building my cushion, which helped me get through the end of 2011 without a ton of breaks. But to end this post on a cheerful note, it’s amazing how magical books and reading seem after you’ve been deprived for awhile. All of the writing is so vivid, and I’m completely immersed in everything like a child again. It’s lovely, and a feeling I hope I can hold on to. Makes me just want to hug every book in sight!

P.S.: if you’re compiling your February ‘to read’ list, be sure to pop Feminism is for Everybody on it! I’ll be helping Amy co-host a discussion about it this month on A Year of Feminist Classics.

30 Comments leave one →
  1. February 2, 2012 1:32 am

    aw, I’m so sorry you had to go through that Eva, but I’m also glad you are able to read again now! *hugs*

  2. February 2, 2012 1:33 am

    I couldn’t read a word for about 4 months at the worst of this episode of depression. It was so horrible. I finally managed to read a little novella and things slowly picked up, but I still can’t read the way I used to. It’s hard to concentrate sometimes. I’m so glad you’re able to read again. When books & reading are the things that keep you afloat, it’s terrible when you lose your life raft.

  3. February 2, 2012 4:48 am

    Good to see you up and about (and reading!) :)

  4. February 2, 2012 5:04 am

    Really glad to know you are doing better. It is horrid when the slumps hit. I can’t read at the low points of chronic fatigue, but then I listen to books on CD, and usually ones I’ve heard a hundred times before because that’s comforting. Here’s a tip from a friend of mine who suffered a bad neck injury and couldn’t read for months. She listened to the whole of Dickens on audio book. She said that Dickens read out loud was absolutely brilliant (whereas reading the books she’d never been so keen). I’m saving it up for myself for the next time I have a low patch. Take good care of yourself.

  5. February 2, 2012 5:58 am

    Glad to see you’re back Eva and recovered from your reading slump. I look forward to hearing about what you’ve been reading.

    Speaking of wanting to hug books, if you haven’t seen the Oscar-nominated short The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore yet, I highly recommend it as a palliative for any and all bibliophiles.

  6. February 2, 2012 6:35 am

    I was so glad to see a post pop up from you, Eva. I’ve missed you and wondered what was going on down the Interstate. LOL

    Reading slumps are the worst, aren’t they? 2011, as a whole, was probably the worst year I’ve ever had for them. I hate that skittery feeling I get when I can’t concentrate on a book. Almost like a panic attack. And then, when something engages, such a sense of peace. I do tend to watch lots of TV, such as back-to-back episodes of a series, when I’m slumping. But TV is not the same. Good to see you in a better place. My hope is that this feeling will stay with you for a long time.

  7. February 2, 2012 7:01 am

    Hi Eva,

    It’s good to have you back.

    Great review.

    Check out my second blog:

    I launched it on the 31st of January, 2012. That was just two days ago.


  8. February 2, 2012 7:37 am

    I think slumps happen to everyone and the best thing to do is not force it – the love of reading will come back.

  9. February 2, 2012 8:13 am

    Glad to see you back, Eva. I am beginning to think that slumps are inevitable, maybe our brains needing a rest, and they are scary and frustrating, I’m happy your’s has passed.

  10. February 2, 2012 9:59 am

    I’m sorry to hear you’ve had a reading slump Eva. I really hate when they happen and like you they just make me feel completely lost and without direction or happiness. Life is so much less full of color and excitement and energy without books – which is why I can not at all understand how people don’t read. How do they deal???

    I’m glad to hear you’re back to the reading, and I hope you can go without a slump for a very long time. Also, can’t wait to read Feminism is for Everybody :)

  11. February 2, 2012 9:59 am

    Welcome back, Eva! After having terrible reading months in November and December I can relate to what you were going through. By December I just gave up and hoped January would be better. I hope we both have recovered and can enjoy our reading year. Talk to you soon!

  12. Ruthiella permalink
    February 2, 2012 11:05 am

    Glad to have you back! I love how you are able to see the silver lining and are so enthused about reading again. As some have recommended, audio books of much loved favorites might help you during reading slumps. I can attest that Dickens read out loud is really wonderful.

  13. February 2, 2012 11:54 am

    I’m sorry to hear you haven’t been feeling so well lately (both health- and reading-wise), but glad to hear that things have picked back up. I hope you have an excellent reading February and look forward to hearing about your reads!

  14. February 2, 2012 12:09 pm

    I embrace reading slumps. I find embracing them is the easiest way to get over them. I just put my books aside, allow myself to enjoy other things and soon enough I’m missing books enough to want to go back. If I fight a slump, it just continues longer than I want to.

    Glad to hear that you are over your slump! I’ve missed your posts.

  15. February 2, 2012 1:30 pm

    So glad to see you back, Eva! You were missed :)

  16. February 2, 2012 1:36 pm

    Echoing everyone else in that I’m glad to see you’re back and feeling better.

    I’m meeting my grandparents for lunch tomorrow, rather near a bookstore. I’ll have to pop in and see if they have the bell hooks book.

  17. February 2, 2012 3:07 pm

    I’m glad you are back to reading and feeling more yourself again. I think all avid readers have their “slump” stages. I watch movies and read magazines when I get into a reading slump and that seems to cure me after a bit of time has passed.

  18. February 2, 2012 5:30 pm

    Your new-found excitement for books is infectious! I’m sorry to hear you had to go through such a long slump to get there, though.

  19. February 2, 2012 5:44 pm

    Glad to see you back–I was wondering where you were! I do think that we all go through reading slumps, and that sounds like a bad one. I generally focus on something else for a little while, but that’s not always easy to do.

  20. February 2, 2012 6:06 pm

    I’m glad your slump is over! I have been in a semi-slumpy place for a while. All I want to do is read comfortable snuggly books every day forever, because none of the new books are making me happy enough. But at least there are comfortable snuggly books — that’s what I always resort to when I’m having a reading slump.

  21. February 2, 2012 6:11 pm

    Glad to see you’re back!

  22. February 2, 2012 6:35 pm

    I’m glad to hear that you are back and finding your reading groove again!! Whenever I am going through a reading slump I have a tendency to read a mystery of some sort….and that usually snaps me right back.

  23. February 2, 2012 8:30 pm

    Glad to have you back and glad to hear that you’re over your slump. I’ve had a slump before and it can be a bit dispiriting. I don’t remember what changed, but eventually there is just the ‘right’ book that reopens the excitement for books again.

  24. February 2, 2012 11:21 pm

    I completely understand, I’ve unfortunately had reading slumps like yours. It’s paralyzing. It reminds me of that quote from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”

    Incidentally, I was thinking about you yesterday and almost Tweeted you to ask about Sonia Shah’s books. I just requested Crude from the library (not sure if you ever read it?) but am now also considering picking up The Fever…not sure if you think one is better than the other? I may just try both.

  25. February 3, 2012 9:35 am

    I’m happy to hear that the pages are turning for you again: enjoy!

  26. February 3, 2012 11:46 am

    I hear you… I’ve been in a reading slump since November. Just now coming out of it with the help of classic children’s novels (easy to read, easy to get through large numbers of pages, charming and funny and rewarding). It’s tough when the reading thing slips away — so glad yours came back!

  27. February 3, 2012 8:09 pm

    Eva, I know exactly how you felt! I’m still going through a reading slump, thanks to school. Hopefully the drought ends soon. Happy reading.

  28. February 4, 2012 4:30 pm

    So glad you are back.

  29. February 5, 2012 10:43 pm

    Always great to see a new post from you! We miss you when you are gone, but understand that it is some times necessary.

  30. February 7, 2012 9:41 am

    Eva, I’m sorry to hear about your reading slump. I hope the year picks up for you. We’re always glad to see you back!

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