I have this theory that book blogging both causes and cures my reading slumps.
This year started off as a good reading year for me – I rang in 2015 with Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk which I’m pretty sure will end up on my list of favourite books read this year. I picked up that book because of the numerous glowing reviews I read of it on book blogs; I’m really grateful to all of those bloggers that raved about it because, when I first heard about the book, I thought it was one that wouldn’t interest me (how wrong was I!) and was quite happy for it to pass me by. Since reading that book, it’s started this interest in nature and travel writing – basically, it’s made me start to read more nonfiction and has opened up this whole new avenue of reading for me.
And that’s all thanks to book blogs and the book blogging community.
Whenever I’m feeling uninspired by reading or am in a bit of a reading slump, I turn to a session of reading my favourite book blogs. I love reading about other people’s relationships with books, their thoughts on the books they’re reading, their opinions on reading, and I normally come away from reading book blogs energised and inspired again (plus a couple of books added to my to-read list).
But, there’s also a flip side to this.
Thanks to book blogs, I’m reading more books than ever that I love and discovering so many new-to-me-authors that write in a way I enjoy. Which is wonderful. But I’ve found that, when I read a book I don’t enjoy as much or don’t connect with, I feel it more keenly because I’m so used to reading books I enjoy. I think, perhaps, book blogging has made my expectations or my standards higher when it comes to books. Or maybe it’s that taking the time to really think about what I’m reading and why I do/don’t like certain things has made me more critical. Which I think is a good thing, but it can mean finding books I really enjoy can be tricky.
Even though this year started off brilliantly reading-wise, my overwhelming feeling when I consider my reading so far, is that it hasn’t been great. I have read books I’ve loved (H is for Hawk, The Secret History, Diving Belles, Peter and Alice) but mainly I’ve read a lot of books that I enjoyed but that didn’t quite hit the mark for me, a few books that I remember reading but the details are all but gone, and, crucially, books that haven’t made me sit down at my keyboard and write a review the minute I turn the final page because it’s so good I just want to convince you all to read it.
I’ve found recently that I keep fluctuating between getting really inspired by reading and adding numerous books to my to-read list, and then generally feeling uninspired by reading. I’m in this phase again now, and I really don’t like it.
To lift me from this reading slump, I recently reread one of my favourite books – Evie Wyld’s All the Birds, Singing. This worked for a short while, but then I found myself wanting to read a book that would affect me as much as that one did… On reflection, I think my reading slump is largely caused by my expectations of books or my desire to find books I love. I want each book to live up to the last favourite, and that just isn’t always possible. And it’s unfair to the authors and books I’m reading if I constantly compare them. I really need to stop doing this.
Does anyone have any tips for getting out of a reading slump that’s turning into quite a long one? Do you have any books to recommend? I’ve currently got Lucy Wood’s Weathering ready to read which, as I loved her short story collection so much, I’m hoping will lift my spirits. I also recently found out that Gerbrand Bakker has a new book published and, as I loved The Detour and The Twin, I’m hoping I’ll enjoy this one too.
Writing this post has made me realise that perhaps I need to, not lower my expectations of books and reading, but be okay with the fact that not every book is going to be amazing for me. It’s okay to read a book I don’t enjoy, or abandon one if I’m really not enjoying it.
Side note: I feel that I haven’t been as active in the book blogging community as I have been in the past and it’s kind of playing on my mind. I love book blogging and reading book blogs, but I think I’m just struggling to find a balance between fitting everything in that I need and want to do and finding the time to sit and write posts and read and comment on everyone else’s. Also, I suppose there’s a correlation between reading slumps and blogging slumps: if I’m not feeling inspired by reading, I’m not necessarily going to be inspired to blog.
I started a new job at the beginning of this year (which I love!) and I suppose I spent the first few months of the year trying to carve out a new blogging routine for myself. But now it’s the end of June, and this year already feels like it’s going so fast (seriously, where has this year gone so far?) I had all these ideas for my blog, and I just haven’t found the time or the inspiration to go through with them. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that I love book blogging and I’m trying to find a way to get into it again, because I really enjoy it and am missing it.