Thursday, October 8, 2009

Face to Face with... Readers Block!

Don't read my blog if you read books.

I've written about writer's block a bit in the past. And as I enter week two of Blog-a-Day month, it starts to hit hard. Ideas that I had during September have all left my brain. But I've been dealing with a similar, but different, problem. I think I have reader's block.

This summer I read On the Road by Jack Karouak. Your initial thought might be that at some point during the summer, I read the book. But no, I really spent most of the summer reading it. I think I checked it out from the library a few days after I returned from Europe and finally finished it the first night of school.

Am I really that slow of a reader? On one level, I want to blame it on the book itself. And I honestly do. The book is a masterpiece. Every line is a poem that you need to absorb. As with poetry, it lends itself to a more deliberate pace. And the plot? There really isn't a plot. Kerouak just tells us everything that happened on these road trips. Therefore, it has a lack of momentum.

But I have no momentum in any reading these days. That long to finish a book? A few years back, I challenged myself to a three book challenge. I tried to read three books in three days. The first day I devoured and finished The Godfather. Day two I sped through The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. On day three I read the first half of A Widow For One Year. I didn't pass the challenge, but that's because Widow was SUCH a heavy book. The first half is the type of book that drains emotion. Your heart breaks while reading that half. John Irving is one of my favorite authors for this reason - I love his characters.

I can't even imagine succeeding (or coming close) in a challenge like this. I have started dozens of books over the past year and have finished very few. I've been in a similar reading funk before. A few times, really. For example, during some of my heavier semesters in college, I would try to pick up a book as a distraction and it wouldn't work.

During those times, I always had a backup. Dean Koontz is my go to writer. There's rarely anything too heavy in his books, yet they often have an entertaining idea around them. He's my author equivalent of a home cooked meal. I used to pick up one of his book and fly through it. Following that, I had momentum again to read on.

But this past winter, I struggled to get through one of his books. I can't even remember what it was called. I tried a couple more book, then back to Koontz. This book I couldn't get through at all. How much can I blame Koontz, even though I don't think the book was very good or interesting? How much of it is me?

I always have a book in my car. If I ever go out to eat or to the movies and I need to kill time, it's there. I'm slowly making my way through that book. Once I get moved into my house (not holding my breath), I'll have a bunch more books out from storage. I'm wondering if the best solution might to be to reread some old favorite books. Perhaps that can built the momentum I need to start reading again.

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