Growing up, I’d never been one to be interested in reading. In grade school, I struggled and was even sent to English remedial classes. I was awarded the Bookworm of the Month by the school library only because I checked out books I never read. At the time, I didn’t know what caused it. All I knew was I would read a sentence and surely a word in it would be different from the one in my head.
Reading only started catching up with me when a friend of mine lent me Daughter of the Empire in high school. This book was not only my introduction into fantasy; it sparked my love for reading.
In college, I read mostly because I had too. Not very much recreational reading outside of my school work. When you’re taking up a Literature Degree, you better be prepared to read at least a hundred pages a day and are ready to discuss said hundred pages the next day.
After graduation and I had more time to myself, I returned to my love for reading things I wouldn’t be graded on at the end of the semester. This was around the time one of my students introduced me to Lisa Kleypas. My very first romance novel…ever. And I never looked back. I fell in love with the genre and devoured anything I could get my hands on. Then YA became big with the advent of Harry Potter and I shifted gears for a bit without really leaving Kleypas behind.
Many of you know this story, but the twist is my enlightenment with regards to reading. In college, I needed to read. This instilled in me the sense of needing to finish a book no matter what. This sense followed me years later and became really difficult to shake off.
Of course, we all encounter books we don’t latch on too. It may be boring. We may not like the character. It’s poorly written by our set of standards. Whatever reason, we didn’t like the book. Despite knowing I didn’t like something I was reading at the time my Lit training forced me to finish it. This then would result in resentment toward the novel and by extension the author—who doesn’t know I exists and mostly likely wrote the story he or she wanted to write.
A year ago, I’d learned to let myself stop reading something I didn’t like. This was difficult at first because I paid good money for the book and it seemed like a waste not to continue. What drop me over the edge about finally giving up on a poorly written book had to do with how it affected my writing.
As writers, we absorb what we read because our brains have the capacity to turn our imagination into words on paper. We can describe what we see. So, when a poorly written book makes it into your psyche, it messes things up, influences you. Like our bodies would purge after eating bad seafood, not finishing a bad book allows the brain to regurgitate the poison messing with the system.
Unfortunately, there is a downside to this new stage in my reading life.
At the beginning of this year, I found myself putting down more books. My Kindle is filled with half-finished novels. Some I’m halfway through, while others I’d stopped reading right after the first chapter.
This is when my reading slump began. Because of the multiple disappointments, I feared I wouldn’t find a book I’d gravitate to. The book that forces me to stay at home until I finished reading it. This can get depressing.
A couple of months ago, I thought I’d gotten through the slump. Finally I’d gotten through a string of books I actually enjoyed. I started buying new books in preparation for my continued slump-less existence.
Sadly, my success didn’t last long. I shouldn’t have celebrated too soon.
For the past couple of days, I’d been shifting from one book after the other. I don’t know what’s happened. Some would have a great start—engaging. But come the middle the story would sag and I can’t slog through the bog to get to the end. There are those that fail to light a fire after just a couple of chapters. I fear I’m in the slump again.
As someone who loves to read, a slump is frustrating to go through. Maybe I’d lost my string of luck. Maybe I’d read a lot of great books and now I’m comparing everything to that. I’ve been reading a lot of first books and don’t feel inclined to continue into the series. And this is across the board—spanning multiple categories and genres.
What’s happening to me?
Maybe I should go back to reading fantasy? I just don’t know.
I’ve been asking for recommendations. Some have been successful. Most not.
When I started writing this post, I had a point, but now that I’ve reached this far into rationalizing my reading slump, I’ve lost my original point. All I know now is I wrote this post because I want it out there. I want people to know what I’m going through. A sharing if you will.