Friday, August 21, 2009

On Reading Slumps

At The Millions, Lydia Kiesling laments her “losing streak.” She just can’t seem to find a book she’s excited about this summer: “I read a novel that drags, and then another that drags, and then another, and before long I have spurned books in favor of internet television, Calvin and Hobbes, and puerile blogs.” As an example, V.S. Naipaul’s Bend in the River made Lydia “feel like I had taken a painkiller, laid down for a malarial nap in an unpleasant climate, and watched a revolution on TV.” Her other choices weren’t much better for her: Martin Amis’s London Fields (“like going on an elaborate and fast-paced scavenger hunt arranged by someone whom you suspect dislikes you”), Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook (“I was depressed for rather a lot of days”), and Roberto Bolaño’s The Skating Rink (lacking “lustre, and heart, like a last-minute writing exercise from a promising MFA student”).

It does all sound rather bleak. Has this ever happened to you? I don’t know if I’ve had such bad luck as Lydia, but the reading slumps I’ve had in the past have all disappeared in time, usually after finding a good, funny novel. If things get particularly bad, I drop everything and read one of my old favorites.


rhapsodyinbooks said...

I do indeed get reading slumps, but it has more to do with my own mood than with there not being any good books around. Fortunately, these times pass!

Brad Green said...

Indeed. Happening right now, in fact. When that occurs, I usually go back to Cormac McCarthy or Flannery O'Connor and then the world is set right again. Or watch Deadwood.

Zibilee said...

I have had a period when I get sucked into a spate of bad books, and I think your suggestion is a good one: read something you know you already like. I am always glad when those periods are over and I find a new book to love.