Reading Slump: What's Wrong With Me?

I really love blogging for a number of reasons. And that's why I'm reaching out now.

I've been in a major reading slump, people.  I'm talking HUGE.  

It started in August, but I was managing to get my books for the reading group mostly completed, and there was so much going on that I didn't really notice.  Once October rolled around I had managed to find a challenge that I was mostly certain I would finish.  And I did.  However, I ended up swapping one book for another because I just couldn't get through my initial commitment.  

So here's a short run down of those that just didn't make it:

And Then There Were None  Agatha Christie

Christie's writing was a bore fest.  Ok, it's a huge thriller and people love it, but I was having a hard time keeping up with all those characters that were essentially the same person with a different history or whatever, and a mere paragraph and a half dedication that just didn't stick. I just didn't really care what happened on that island.  I keep promising I'll pick it up at a later date. We'll see. 

The Graveyard Book  Neil Gaiman

I was SO excited, like a kid opening their first bag of Halloween candy spoils, to read this one in time for the holiday.  I guess I've realized that most YA literature just doesn't rock my world. I definitely want to give this one another go next year because it could have been that it was really fun and I was too busy enjoying my adventures touring the US and didn't have the energy to also keep my nose stuck in a book.

O Pioneers!  Willa Cather

There's something about this time of year that makes me yearn for novels about the earth.  About the individuals that settled in areas alongside the unrelenting natural world.  Cather's books share insight of the history of a whole swarm of people that I felt my early academic career only briefly mentioned. The fact that I didn't finish, well, this is one of those secrets that I would never dare say in a public place where I'd be able to SEE the looks I'd get.  Never!  However, I know this is one novel that I'll definitely finish. How could I not?  

The books that I just want to be over already:

Geek Love  Katherine Dunn 

This is a book club pick for November and I honestly couldn't think of something further from what I'd like to be reading at this time.  Dysfunctional family? Check. Grotesque descriptions that prevent reading while taking lunch? Check.  It's not that I think it's the worst book ever, but it certainly won't be on a top anything list.  It's mostly long winded and leaves me with an icky feeling that makes me also refrain from picking it up before I sleep.  I really really really have to finish but I just have no idea how I'm going to do that yet.  

  Karen Russell 

This one started out such a winner.  I thought it fun and witty and all those things that made me want to pack it up when I'm going out of town for a weekend.  However, I've made it to page 100 and am ready for it to just be over.  I feel like it's moving through the setup but just continues to set up.  Things are happening but the novel isn't moving.  This lack of progression is killing me!  

Don't even get me started on the pathetic state of my Currently Reading section on Goodreads.  How many have been started and left behind? I don't even want to share. 

So what gives? Have I become a snob of a reader?  Am I too impatient? What do you do when you hit this wall? 


  1. Don't beat yourself up! You are not a snob! Actually, I think what you are describing as a slump might be something profoundly positive. Maybe in the last few months you have really come to refine your taste. You don't just read and like everything. You know what you love.

    After years of being totally OCD about having to finish every single book I started, I now live by the 50-page rule. If a book doesn't captivate me by page 50, I put it down and move on. There is too much great stuff out there and we are too busy to suffer. This should be FUN.


  2. Petya,
    It's really nice to hear such a positive message. I've been a little bummed recently because I haven't found anything I've absolutely loved, or even liked enough to want to finish. I keep hearing that I should follow the 50 page rule but have yet to be able to be ok with it. I'm thinking it's probably a good idea. Thanks for the comments!

  3. It depends, I think that in Agatha Christie's case, a lot of female readers turn to her whenever they want to read crime, because it's a female point of view. Truth is, like most series, it's a rince-wash-repeat approach. A single model for many books. If you're looking to a A. Christie that moves a little more, maybe you want to try The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.

    Or if you want to read some flat out better crime fiction written by women, try Megan Abbott or Christa Faust.

  4. I abandoned Swamplandia and I wasn't bowled over by The Graveyard Book. Don't worry - you aren't alone and there is nothing wrong with you! Books are not universally appealing. I hope you find something that engages/excites you soon!

  5. Ben, I actually only chose a Christie book because she's one of the most translated writers in the world and I felt that it was something I should at least try to read. I'm not really a huge fan of mysteries, so that could have been another reason that I didn't really care for it. I actually really like the Tana French novels, which are for the most part, told from the perspective of a male figure.

    Jackie, I really thought I would enjoy Swamplandia!. I've seen it all over and was so excited when I found an affordable used copy. Just a bit of a bummer. I really appreciate the comments from you all. I've got to just move on. Thanks!

  6. I go through phases like this, where I don't know which books to pick and the ones I pick off my shelf don't work out for me. To be honest, I usually fix it by going to buy some shiny new books, that usually does the trick! :P

    The Graveyard Book is a bit hit or miss, there are some pacing issues. My class of nine and ten year olds loved it though. Maybe you had too high expectations of it?

  7. @Beth: Try THE END OF EVERYTHING by Megan Abbott, my pinky is telling me you'll like it

  8. Sam, I think it's probably just a phase. Or I just haven't found anything that I've really loved in quite some time. I just got Eugenides's The Marriage Plot yesterday along with my first Persephone title (I found a USED copy!) and some other titles that I'm pretty excited to add to the library.

    Honestly, I was just looking for a lighter, spooky Halloween read. Maybe next year.

    Ben, I'll check her out. I finished the last of the French series recently and was looking for something to take the place. Have you read any of Laura Lippman's books? I was thinking of checking her stuff out, too.

  9. For what it's worth, I think you're doing the right thing -- "book monogamy" is just not possible for me. I try out lots of things, unless something grabs me so hard that I can't put it down. That's usually a 5-star read, but they are few and far between. You're not snobby -- but life's too short to stick with lousy book :)

  10. I'm in the same situation and I wish I could say what it is. For me personally, it's probably a combo platter of work woes, relationship woes, and general life stuff that get in the way of reading. I've also left a trail of book bodies behind -- those that simply could not be completed. Arrgh! Here's wishing you a quick getaway from the slump.

  11. I tried to read a collection of stories by Willa Cather once and made it to around page 30 before I quite and didn't pick it up again. I still own it, so maybe someday, but I was so underwhelmed on the initial read that I don't know if I'll go back. Sadly, I haven't picked up anything else of hers to read either.

    Sorry to hear The Graveyard Book didn't work out for you. I think it's one of those books you've got to be in the mood for.

    I've had Swamplandia! on my radar for awhile, so I'm glad to hear that it's not going well before I gave in and bought it.

  12. Col,
    I am definitely seeing this now. I have so many unread books sitting on my shelves-- I'll never get to them at the pace I'm moving. Thanks!

    All those can definitely hinder a reading agenda. I love the "trail of book bodies." So appropriate! I'm hoping The Marriage Plot pulls me out of it!

    Brenna, I really like Willa Cather but she's definitely a slow read. I think I just needed something with a faster pace. I'm saving The Graveyard Book for next year's RIP challenge. You may have more patience with Swamplandia! than I did. It had an interesting storyline but I felt it by page 100 it wasn't really moving.

  13. Reading slumps suck. That's it. The magic way to break out is to find the right book, which is easier said than done. I was underwhelmed with Swamplandia (and think it should have a stayed a short story).

    In solidarity, the worst reading slump of my modern life happened before I realized my tastes had changed. Suddenly I wasn't enjoying the same books I used to. Eventually, I figured out what was working consistently and changed direction. I've been thinking about it lately because I feel the start of another shift coming on. Oh boy.

    Good luck finding the right book to right your track:-)

  14. I think that's exactly what's happening. I also think that I want things that are not quite so dark when I'm really busy. When I'm stressed, the last thing I want to read is a novel that discusses the stress of some character. Thanks for the words of wisdom. I hope to be sharing great book reviews in the near future.

  15. Once I could never have imagined a time when reading might not appeal to me. When people said they weren't interested in reading or couldn't read because of their mood, I was geniunely shocked, but my time came. Eventually I went through stages where the last thing in the world I wanted was to read.


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