On Reader’s Block

I’ve written previously about writer’s (or blogger’s) and photographer’s block, which turned into a post about an entirely different subject. Namely, my spontaneous Iowa road trip over Christmas weekend. It’s pretty obvious that I’ve had this problem for awhile since I just realized yesterday that I haven’t posted in three weeks. 

Lately though, I am suffering from another ailment, we’ll call it reader’s block. Last year I made it through 26 books. Until late August, I was in school full time and working 25 hours every weekend. I also spent a few months studying for my aircraft mechanic license exams and the inevitable cramming for finals in April and August. Somehow I found the time to read at least 26 books, including Atlas Shrugged and John Keegan’s monster, The Second World War. 

Here it is late January, and I have yet to finish a book, or even make it halfway through one for that matter. I started the year by picking up the copy of The Picture of Dorian Grey I picked up at the library’s book sale, but I really wanted to read the new copy of Catch-22 I had bought to replace the one my ex never gave back. I picked it up to re-read it, being one of my all-time favorites, but I just couldn’t get into it this time. I made it probably 200 pages in, but eventually gave up on it after buying Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov and staring at the pretty hardcover sitting on my coffee table every night. I got a little more than 250 pages into that one when I realized I was completely lost on the story since there are several chapters which are just one or another character’s philosophical rants. I’m not sure if it’s the translation, Dostoevsky’s story, or just my being unfocused and unmotivated. Something tells me you really need to concentrate when reading Dostoevsky, but lately I just haven’t been there.

So what is causing this literary lull that’s going on in my brain? Is it a poor choice in books or is it that I read so many over the last two years that I’m just burned out? Perhaps the Tivo is distracting me way too much? But no, I rarely use it and I don’t watch much TV at all these days. Which makes me wonder why I pay $150 a month for cable and internet. Maybe it’s the complete lack of motivation I’ve had to do much of anything after work lately. I was sick last week and was in bed early every night on account of the drugs, but that only accounts for five days. 

Let’s talk possible solutions here. I could buy some shitty murder novel or maybe a good one, like the new Michael Connolly I saw at the store last week. Perhaps a good old caper that really sucks me in would do me good. Or maybe I just need to go on another murder novel binge for a few months where I just read one per week until I remember that almost every one winds up with the same ending. Maybe I should just forget to pay the cable bill this month so it and my internet gets cut off and I don’t have anything else to do. Then I’ll be forced to read. Then again, I could just pick up another non-fiction history volume that’s on my shelf since it’s been almost a year since I finished one of those. I’ve read that just giving reading a rest for awhile helps sometimes, but for the past few years I’ve always been reading at least one book at any given time, so this is a tough one to swallow.

How about you? What do you do when you can’t seem to get into a reading rhythm? 



4 thoughts on “On Reader’s Block

  1. Hmm, well when this happens to me (at least once every few months) I end up reading books that have little substance, the kind that’s easily predictable and i can finish in 2 days give or take. Another thing I’ll do is read something that i normally would not consider reading. Other times, i stop reading for a while and watch whole seasons of old shows. Like recently I’ve started re-watching Xena and Charmed, and am working on Leverage. Lastly, i just read comic books.

  2. That happens to me too, but it lasts for years! I just can’t get into anything. But then I do have my music too as creative release, I’d go mad if I didn’t have that. Most of spare time activities are solitary, and I like it that way.

    I also sometimes can’t bring myself to finish certain books because I ‘love’ them so much. Two years ago I was reading Philip Roths American Pastoral, I’m nearly towards the end, but I just don’t want to end it, yet, and haven’t picked it up for a year. The last moment/scene is still vivid in my mind.

    Last year I went on tumblr and found a photo blog about war. Just collected war photography from every era, nation (purposedly non-gory). One of the rare text blogs was an excerpt from Micheal Herrs Dispatches. If I mention the word ‘ear’, then you might know what I was talking about. Pretty horrible stuff, but I couldn’t let it go and had to know what context the piece came from, it seemed it was worthy of that at least. So, I ordered it, but before it came in the post, I went around the web for some reviews, critique. This lead me onto an essay by Ty Hawkins in the War, Literature & the Arts Journal. Its a free online journal which, between everything else, I’ve been rather obsessively reading. This is what I read when I don’t or can’t read my stack of half/unread books (some of which are reviewed in WLA).


    • I’m the same way with music. I listen to it most of the day at work, anytime I’m in the car or in line somewhere, and at least an hour or two at night. I’m a bit of a music hoarder.

      Journals and magazines are a good way to go too, I agree. Every couple weeks I’ll pick up a New Yorker or Rolling Stone magazine at the store. Their articles are long, well-researched and well-written, plus The New Yorker publishes short fiction in every issue. I will definitely check out that website. I’m an Iraq veteran so that kind of stuff is definitely of interest to me. Thanks for the tips!

      • Nice one;) I’d be interested to see what you make of the WLA journal as a veteran. Quite a bit of the articles are written by veterans, some personal, some academic.

        Although I love music (I have pretty ecclectic tastes), I tend to have a set playlist of stuff I’ve been listening to for the last 10 years, then add/subtract new stuff that I grow out of quickly. Does that make any sense? I also ‘compose’ stuff, something I’ve been doing since I got a piano when I was 10. This has migrated to my laptop with a keyboard, but you can’t beat the sound of a live instrument, so I still daily have a play to relax or take a break…I could not live without this, it’s instant satisfaction.

        Glad I could help with the block;)

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