Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Down In the Valley

In the latest At the Back Fence column over at AAR, Laurie confesses to what she's calling a bout of reader's block. Nothing she picks up - from new releases to comfort-read keepers - has been able to capture her attention. Man, do I ever understand her situation. I've gone through years of reader's block, and it is no fun.

While probably not as frustrating as writer's block is to writers, reader's block is more than highly annoying to those of us who love reading. Sometimes my reader's block results because of lack of time. I'm just too busy and too tired at night to read anything at all, and after a few weeks out of the habit, as it were, I forget what pleasure losing myself in a great read can be. Kind of like going without chocolate long enough you forget how much you loved it, until, of course, you taste it again. Then you wonder why you waited so long.

But sometimes it's just my brain acting all weird. I know I have books on my TBR shelf that I will love. Books I couldn't wait to read when I picked them up at the library where they'd been acquired especially at my request from a sister library across town. Books that everyone else is raving about. Sometimes there is no conceivable reason why a book wouldn't grab me and pull me in completely. But it happens, and it's frustrating as all hell.

On the flip side, it seems these valleys in reading are followed by peaks, when I just cannot get enough. I read book after book, forgoing pretty much everything else to keep turning those pages. I started off 2006 in such a mode and polished off half a dozen books in the first two weeks of the year. Since then, I have slowed down substantially, and I'm pretty sure my plan to read 100 books this year won't happen. Part of this is because I've been in a re-reading mode of late, and I don't count re-reads when I list books read for the year.

The only explanation I have for my own reading cycles is that I tend to jump into anything I do with both feet and with 110% of my attention. I become obsessed fairly easily, shutting down the other parts of my mind that might be distracted by other interests. I'm either reading or writing or watching TV or researching or whatever, but I'm usually not doing two things at once.

Whatever the reason, I need to give myself a good shake. I have about five books I've started but have set down only a chapter or three in, not because the books aren't good but because I'm just not in the mood. With the summer beach-reading season just round the corner, I need something to do with myself while on vacation.

No comments: