Reading funk

I’m beginning to think I should stop reading for a while, because every book I pick up seems to be not quite right for my mood. I’m at a loss to find the book that will do.

After feeling dissatisfied with Rosamund Lehmann’s The Echoing Grove, I picked up Georgette Heyer’s novel Venetia, thinking I couldn’t go wrong with Heyer, and yet she didn’t quite do the trick either. The novel’s slow pace bothered me. This, surely, is a sign things are not right with me, as I usually like novels with slow paces. I also found the heroine a little irritating — she laughed the entire way through the book, even in very dramatic situations where any normal person would not crack a smile. And I couldn’t quite forgive the hero for forcing a kiss on Venetia at their very first meeting. I suppose this is meant to be sexy — the bad boy hero can’t resist and the innocent heroine can’t help but like it — but I found it obnoxious.

I disliked the gender dynamics in other ways too. When Venetia meets Damerel, the rakish hero, she spends some time thinking about his history with women and how she feels about it, and she decides that men are simply that way; they can’t help but chase women and have affairs, and there’s nothing to be done about it and it really doesn’t matter a whole lot. I think she’s supposed to come across as admirably practical and realistic for thinking this way. As far as I’m concerned, though, if this is the truth about men, I think I’d rather not know.

So, I’m reading Margery Allingham’s Sweet Danger now, and so far it’s going okay, but I’m afraid it’ll head downhill at any moment, or, rather, my feelings about it will head downhill, probably for reasons that have nothing to do with the book. I feel I should apologize to any author and any book I attempt reading right now, as I surely am not doing them justice.

I’m hoping I get over this soon ….

23 Comments

Filed under Books, Fiction, Reading

23 responses to “Reading funk

  1. Was recently caught in a reading funk myself – can’t seem to decide on which book to settle down to read.

    I’m hoping to get over it too.

  2. Oh no, a reading funk is no good. Do you think you’ll pick up another book rather than continuing with the Allingham book? If so, I do hope the next one will be the one that gets you through the funk!

  3. I’m just coming out of a similar mood. From reading books that completely engrossed me I then found that nothing was right and every book I started was boring, slight, slow, trivial etc, etc. But then not every book can be great – maybe those books are just not the right books for me – well right now they’re not.

  4. I’m sorry you’re in a funk, but I have to admit it’s quite fun for us: I like hearing you complain a little!

  5. Sorry about your reading funk. Those are always a drag. Perhaps you need something with a fast-paced on the edge of your seat plot to shake things up a bit?

  6. Jenny

    When I feel this way, I turn either to childhood favorites (nothing like a re-read of The Wind in the Willows or some Little House books to get me feeling better) or else to an anthology of short stories. They usually aren’t long enough to irritate me, and if I don’t like one author, the next is different.

    Good luck!

  7. I had a big reading funk at the start of this year, and got over it by reading nonfiction (which I don’t do a lot of, comparitively). Good luck with getting over it; sometimes you just need a break.

  8. I love Allingham, so I hope she’s still working for you. But, when I find myself in a position like this I go back and re-read something I loved three or four years earlier. I usually find this gets me through my slump and then I can find a new book afterwards.

  9. Maybe you need something that’s pure plot, something with a fast pace? I hate it when I can’t find a book to match my mood. I hope you find something good soon.

  10. I think this happens to all of us at times. I know it can be very frustrating, but it’ll probably pass quickly enough.

  11. zhiv

    I checked out the training blog to see if there were any clues to the funk over there, but it sound like things are going well. More yoga, maybe get in the pool soon, but it’s weird to feel literary dissatisfaction when it’s springtime and you’re taking great bike rides. Probably need a more bracing bit of fiction, and faux Regency was like getting a MaiTai when you needed a scotch. So it seems you haven’t felt quite right since Wuthering Heights. And your 08 list has Paradise Lost on there, which I don’t think you wrote about, but it may have taken its toll. Time for the real stuff, or something really obvious and can’t-miss. Maybe try one of the outmodeds you’ve been putting off. Or take a break, rent a bunch of movies, eat good food…

  12. verbivore

    We can never choose the books – they always choose us. Ha ha! Well, its kind of true. Reading funks are never any fun, luckily they tend to resolve themselves unexpectedly with a book you’d never suspect of having so much power. You could try a re-read – a Bronte or an Austen, I tend to use something like that to get me out of a funk, since I know once I start I won’t be able to put it down.

  13. LK

    I feel exactly the same way lately. I know for me that the last eight months have been very intense, so that’s definitely one reason.

    What I’ve been doing is reading nonfiction, which to me is easier to pick up and put down than fiction. I also like to read about people who have overcome difficulties or have gone on great adventures — that stimulates me. I finished Three Cups of Tea, which is a wonderfully inspiring (and easy to read) book. I’m rereading a bio of Dian Fossey, too, and will soon start one about the Great Depression. I also have started reading mystery fiction. I’m almost done with a silly but fun one called Bookmarked to Die. It’s at least decently written, and it’s just goofy fun. Wonder if there’s a murder mystery involving bicycle racing that would be fun to read…?

  14. TJ

    Hello Dorothy—
    I am so sorry to hear you are in this funk, but it will pass. Say, I too have read the Three Cups of Tea book and I very much enjoyed it. I learned so much about Islam and the Pakistan/Afghanistan part of the world that we just never hear about otherwise. We always only hear the bad.

    I have this funk sometimes too—a couple of times a year. I don’t know if you read mystery books, but this is when I turn to them. I read as many as it takes in a row to get back on track. I can’t explain it but it works for me.

    I hope your reading self is better soon,
    TJ

  15. I got into a funk not too long ago. We all go through this, don’t we? My cure is to look at pictures of books, which is why I initially picked up “501 Must-Read Books.” Sounds weird, I know, but it helped.

  16. Dark Orpheus — oh, I’m not alone. I hope it passes soon for you too.

    Iliana — thank you! So far I’m going all right with the Allingham — it’s wacky and fun. It’s a little more plotty than I generally like, but still good. Maybe this will help lift me out of my funk …

    BooksPlease — it’s particularly hard to have this happen right after a good streak, isn’t it? I hope you have found the right thing for you!

    Charlotte — oh, thank you — I worry about complaining too much on the blog, so I’m glad to hear it can be entertaining!

    Stefanie — yeah, the Allingham which is pretty plotty is going well, although plotty books sometimes make me have to work hard to follow everything and I’m not sure I feel like doing that … but maybe a plot-filled book that I’ve already read??

    Jenny — returning to a childhood favorite is a great idea. Unfortunately I don’t have those on hand. I should collect them to have them ready for when I need them.

    Melanie — I’ve thought about reading nonfiction — it might irritate me less than fiction. I’m not sure why that would be …

    Ann — I can see why you love Allingham! She’s a very fun writer. I’m still figuring out what to make of her — the book isn’t at all what I expected.

    Danielle — thank you; pure plot might work, although I don’t have a whole lot of those books on hand … but I definitely need something that doesn’t require too much thought.

    Lisa — I’m sure it does happen to everybody and that makes me feel better — surely it will pass soon!

    Zhiv — thank you for your thoughtful diagnosis! I think the problem is end-of-the-semester fatigue. I spend so much time reading and writing for school that when I’m tired of it reading for fun becomes … not so fun. This is one reason to dislike teaching. I do need to do more yoga, definitely, which might or might not help the reading. I think going with something tried and true would probably work. It might be time to reread Austen. I also like the idea of lots of movies and good food!

    Verbivore — your idea of a reread is a good one; that would probably do the trick. I’m supposed to read a book for the Slaves of Golconda this weekend; perhaps that’s getting me down a bit, since I may need something different. Perhaps reading something I’m not “supposed” to be reading would help.

    LK — I love the idea of a bicycle-related murder mystery! But I can’t think of any — perhaps Hobgoblin should write one. But mysteries do work well in these moods, and nonfiction sounds like a good idea. I’m glad to hear you’ve found books that help you through your tough time.

    TJ — thank you for your good wishes! Interesting that you and LK have such good things to say about Three Cups of Tea — I’d never heard of it but it sounds very interesting. And yes, mystery books make good medicine!

    Brandon — I can see how pictures of books might get you interested — they look so appealing, how can you resist? Hey — whatever works.

  17. I’ve been in a similar state recently. I actually had a moment of panic last night when I thought: “What if books just don’t work for me any more?” Ridiculous, I know! No doubt it will pass soon. But I can’t seem to focus on anything. The one exception is audiobooks. It used to be that I couldn’t concentrate when listening rather than reading. Now, it’s the opposite. I can only concentrate if I can walk and “read” at the same time. At least I’m getting some exercise, I guess!

  18. Grrr – wordpress swallowed the comment I left for you Dorothy (it’s been very cranky of late). But I sympathised with the reading funk. I think an overload of academic work can sometimes take the fun out of reading. Your brain has too much going on in it to welcome more stories, and the critical eye is uppermost. Might be the moment to watch a couple of really good DVDs!

  19. Kate — oh, I hope it passes soon. I’m sure it will. Reading is just too ingrained to be given up at this stage! In the meantime, enjoy those audiobooks and the walking.

    Litlove — oh, stupid wordpress! Yes, it’s definitely an overload of academic work — reading student prose in particular does fry the brain after a while.

  20. bookchronicle

    I was struggling through bookfunk quite recently as well and turned to short stories to help. So far so good. Sometimes the brain just doesn’t seem open to reading and I try not to force read too much.

  21. You’re so right — sometimes the brain just refuses. All you can do is give in and wait a while.

  22. LK

    Yes, the Hob would be the perfect author for a bicycle-related murder mystery!!!! I think you’re onto something…

  23. Pingback: Dreaming in Cuban « Of Books and Bicycles

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