I never thought I’d say this, but here’s my answer to the reading slump: Stop reading.
About three weeks ago, I had a period of major crunching, and for two solid weeks I didn’t read a thing. My review books lay sulking on the table. The books I’d borrowed from friends were abandoned. Comfort reads were no longer a comfort – how could they be, when I couldn’t even face opening their covers? No newspapers, no magazines, and had the Bernstein Bears appeared I would have shunned them too. In short, I went into total reading freeze. For me, that’s huge.
The main reason was simply a question of fatigue – I’ve been too tired to do anything except work, eat, and sleep, emphasis on the latter. But when it was over, and after getting a solid ten hours of sleep, I successfully opened a book. And from the ashes arose an interesting realization: I was glad to take a break from reading. I was satisfied that I had stopped. I read that book enthusiastically, even though it turned out to be a dud. I was once again happy in the world of literature. All because I’d stopped reading.
I suppose coming from a representative (voluntary or otherwise) of a literary publication (online or otherwise), this sounds mighty strange. But sometimes a clean, temporary break is best. Most of us have gorged ourselves at some time or other and felt sick afterwards, be it Thanksgiving dinner, Coldplay or Julia Quinn. I almost killed any enjoyment of Pride and Prejudice when I watched it ad nauseum, day in, day out. I finally forced myself away, but it sure taught me to take things in small doses.
This particular time, I don’t think I’ve been overdosing on reading or romance novels. But when I went back after taking a break, I realized I was reading with fresher eyes: Fresh in the sense that I’d been straining them, but I also felt as if I’d come home from vacation. Home is familiar and comfortable, even though the second stair still creaks or you have to go back to sharing a bed with your sister. But I also appreciate what I didn’t have for a while, and especially the fact that I have the leisure and ability to return to it.
It’s strange what a change of pace can do, even if it’s as simple as changing a pervasive, lifelong habit such as reading.
-Jean Wan AAR