Monday, February 20, 2012

When It Comes to Reading Is Timing Everything or Nothing?

I often find myself in terrible reading funks, unable to concentrate, disconnected and distracted.  It happens a lot more than this self-proclaimed book lover cares to admit, the weary push through book after book. Whether the book is good, bad, or mediocre, it can be an awful lot like pulling teeth.  The funk is Seinfeldian in nature. It's not you it's me, I whisper to the poor pages.

I am happy to report that I am on quite the opposite track these days.  I'm on a runaway reading spree.  Completely alert.  Flying through books.  As soon as I finish one, I'm ravenous for another. The New York Public Library can barely keep up with me.

But, again, it's me, not the books.  I recently raced through two books.  They were written by two critically acclaimed writers with big prizes attached to their names. The reading experience was completely painless.  However, I did not like them.  My impression of them will remain stagnant, stale.

I think it's interesting that a book can still be unsatisfying, whether I'm in the right mindset or the wrong one, whether I'm racing forward or slogging through.

And, in the same way, a book can stand out no matter what frame of mind I'm in. I read Marcus Zusak's The Book Thief during one of my worst reading funks to date. It lifted me out of the reading funk only temporarily, for the six hours I sat to read it, then I drowned in the funk quicksand immediately after.

And yet, the love of a certain book can be all about timing.  For example, I read Jane Eyre at the age of fourteen and despised it, then read it several years later and, to this day, count it as one of my all time favorite books.

But I'm finding little rhyme or reason to it all.

I'm curious to know your thoughts. Do you think it is particular mindset that allows you to love or hate a book?  Is it the quality of the book itself?  A serendipitous combination?


  1. For me I think it's the combination of quality and mood, although there are books that can absolutely do what The Book Thief did for you (LOVED that book, btw), pull me out of a funk and help me feel better. But other times there are obvious reasons, writing or poor character development, etc. I'm trying to read Crossed right now and I loved Matched, but this sequel isn't doing it for me. I struggle with the varying points of view because I don't really care about the new characters being thrown in. I just want Cassia and Ky to be together already, lol!! :D I don't like having to force myself to read a book, it shouldn't be that way.

  2. hi miss melissa! for me i gotta be in the mood to read and then the books gotta keep me interested. i dont do so good with books that have too much decribing of things. i lose where the storys going. mostly i read when something inside me just says read a book and then i do. i dont ever want reading to be a gotta do thing. (except for school stuff - ack!) i could always want it to be a wanna do thing. :)
    ...hugs from lenny

  3. I can very much relate. I do think there are so many badly written and even well written books that don't have an uplifting message or a reason to make us think or feel hopeful. If the book is for pure entertainment or if I'm reading way too many books that will do very well commercially, but leave me feeling shallow and never really able to remember reading it a year later, I feel the tug of quicksand. I just flew through the new memoir on JFK Jr. (interesting), after reading The Good Earth (HIGHLy recommended) and am flying through 11/22/63 (so well written and fascinating from a historical point of view). So, for me, I think it's a combination. I do get in funks, but can always find it again with a good quality book.

  4. Your experience with Jane Eyre is like mine with Slaughterhouse Five. I hated it in high school, loved it as an adult. I do think timing plays a factor in our enjoyment of books, as well as the life experience we are bringing to the table when we read it. I've disliked perfectly good books just because they hit way too close to home.

  5. I find I'm kind of a mood reader. If I get in a terrible funk I have a hard time breaking out of it. If I start reading boring book after boring book nothing but an act of God can change my mind. But at least I know it is my fault :)

  6. I find that if I'm in the middle of crazy editing stage, it is difficult for me to really enjoy any book that isn't just awesome because I'm picking it apart as if it were mine or one of my CPs work :)

    But...if I'm in crazy editing stage and I love a book, you can bet its really darn good ;)

  7. If I'm really busy, I have reading ADHD, I can't quiet my mind long enough to focus to read--I'm like you, I go through spurts of being on fire with book after book, then I stumble through a probably really "good" book only to hate it because I couldn't settle my mind down enough to read it--and this always goes hand in hand with how busy I's a twisted cycle!