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Busting a Reading Slump

I’m currently in the midst of a reading slump. I just can’t get excited about books right now. I check things out from the library and half-heartedly read the first few pages, then I lose interest. This slump is a sure sign that I am overworked and overstressed. Usually books are my refuge from the world, my escape from reality. But with my exhausting schedule lately, I can’t muster enough mental energy for a book. Knitting and television have replaced literature as my relaxation of choice.

Inspired by Bonne Marie Burns’s advice on busting a knitting slump, I decided to concoct my own scheme for breaking out of a reading slump.

  1. Read the most appealing trashy novel you can find. My tried-and-true genre love is mystery fiction–Sue Grafton, P.D. James, Ruth Rendell, and the Mrs. Pollifax cozies by Dorothy Gilman. But this trick works equally well if you’re a closet sci-fic, fantasy, horror, or romance fan.
  2. Book recordings! My local library is full of them, in both cassette and CD versions. Recordings don’t require the fixed attention of reading. You can fade in and out without effort, and still clean the house or file papers or whatever your busy life requires.
  3. Give up on the classics (at least for the duration of the slump). No sense trying to read Steinbeck or Thomas Wolfe or some award-winning tome when your concentration is shot! Put those leather-bound volumes back on the shelf for now.
  4. Attend a book launch or poetry reading. You might discover a new author, and the vibe of a literary event will get you back in the reading groove.

In the spirit of taking my own advice, I’ve been reading and listening to Minette Walters, a British mystery writer. The slump is not over, but the end may be in sight.

And in case you haven’t had enough of our discussion about whether motherhood and writing go together, here’s another article on the subject by novelist Maggie O’Farrell. This piece reads much more personally and honestly than Laura Thompson’s. I especially like this part, about the decision for/against children:

If, like me, you feel a little ambiguous about children, it is less a certainty than a process of projecting your imagination into two possible futures – mother or maiden aunt? – and trying to decide which one you prefer. As well as which one you’ll prefer later. It seems a huge responsibility, deciding at 30 your fate at 60.

O’Farrell uses anecdotal evidence from current writing mothers and delves more into the practicalities of juggling books and babies.


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