How Book Selections Reflect Our Current State of Mind

I've been in a reading slump lately. It took me three weeks to finish Douglas Clegg's Neverland for review on Bookgasm - it's only 278 pages long - and I could only make it 30 pages into The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott. I've read 10 pages of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, and have temporarily put that one down as well.

It's not that there is anything wrong with the books - Neverland was a perfectly haunting, creepy novel, and Lost Summer and Abe Lincoln were both interesting in both writing and premise, but they all just failed to captivate. And yet I have had no trouble plowing through my Wheel of Time Re-read, finishing Book 5 last week and now a few hundred pages into Book 6.

Instead of blaming the books, I'm blaming myself. I think am so frazzled with work, job hunting and planning a move that what little time I do find to read, I am either unable or unwilling to delve into new book territory. I feel I am too distracted, not doing the book justice, not giving it as much of a chance as I believe every new book deserves.

The comforting mass-market paperback pages of Jordan's Wheel of Time are familiar and captivating, though, giving me enough distraction from the stresses of every day and yet mindless enough - mostly because I've read them all already - that I don't feel I am missing out on the beauty of a story.

But it goes beyond the meat of the Jordan books - the suck-you-in plot paired with thousands of pages of distraction - and more into the familiarity of the text. I'm itching to re-read The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and Traveling With Pomegranates, and Freddy and Fredericka. I am excited at the prospect of poring over each title for a second or third time, catching things I've missed, discovering new ways of looking at the story, and remembering what I've forgotten.

Maybe this is a reading parallel to the beginnings of my goodbyes to New York City. Maybe it is a small way of digging in my heels as I face so many changes, of keeping something similar, familiar, comfortable. Or maybe I'm just in a reading slump, and it has nothing to do with all of the life changes in these few months, and I just need to find the right book to suit my quirky mood. The only thing I'm certain of in all of this is that now, more than ever, my book selections - or non-selections, as the case may be - have been incredibly dependent on my state of mind.

What about you? Anyone else have reading slumps, or strange urges to only re-read materials? Any get-out-of-your-slump reading suggestions?


  1. I completely relate to what you are experiencing. It took me 5 books to find the right book for my current column on BiblioBuffet.

  2. My get-out-of-a-reading-slump suggestion would be to pick up a book that's been on your shelf forever, that you've always meant to read, but have always skipped over when it comes time to pick up you next book. That always seems to re-energize me about reading - that there are so many good books out there, and a slump is more a state of mind than an inability to find something good to read! ;)

  3. I tend to gravitate to novels by authors I know I like during slumps so that I can move through the slump with a reliable standby - its funny how sometimes you really need to be in certain mood no matter how great the book!

  4. David - What did you end up reading? Or do I have to wait for the column to find out?

    Greg - Not a bad plan! I'll have to see what's on the shelves calling my name. And yes, my slump is absolutely a state of mind... I just have yet to find the right book to pull me out of it.

    Books - That's what I'm doing at this point with Robert Jordan. 100% reliable for distraction, entertainment, and a solid fantasy story. Hoping that a re-read of Kundera or Helprin will prove to be the same.

  5. Everyone has the slump at some stage or the other. It does get better!

  6. A agree. The way I choose books is very much in relation to the mood I'm in, how much stress, etc.


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