When It Feels Like There Is Nothing To Read

Firstly, let me start off by saying there is obviously ALWAYS something to read.  There’s usually too much right?  But have you ever been in that awful place where nothing sticks?  You just don’t know what you’re in the mood for?  You can’t get into anything and you’re stuck starting about 9 million books and you feel like you’ll never connect with anything ever again?  That’s where I am right now.  Honestly, I don’t have much time to read since I work at home (read loads on the subway when I had an office job) and I have a 2.5 year old and they really don’t let you read much.  But when I have a book that I’m really into and I manage to read a chapter here and there, life is a little bit better.  Books are kind of like Klonopin, or yoga (probably not really, but hey, it’s another excuse not to exercise) – they’re relaxing.  I just got back from a conference, and I’d love to settle in with a book for awhile, but nothing is capturing my attention.  I just finished Jonathan Tropper’s amazing This Is Where I Leave You and Wendy Webb’s totally creepy and fun The Tale of Halcyon Crane (which incidentally, I also blame for a new almond latte addiction).  Totally different books, but I loved them both, and now nothing is measuring up.  So, can I blame Jonathan Tropper and Wendy Webb for the fact that I’m watching a lot of reality television?  An obvious idea is to read the rest of Mr. Tropper’s books right away, but here’s another weird thing about me – I want to save them and dole them out over time.  Do you know what I mean?  You don’t, and think I’m a total freak right?

Irrational I know. But I blame the quality of this book for my addiction to reality television.

What do you guys do when you can’t find a book that keeps your attention?  Resort to old favorites or classics?  Beg friends for recommendations?  Eat 5 dozen donuts?  Watch the entire John Hughes collection on VHS?  I’m getting desperate here.

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14 responses to “When It Feels Like There Is Nothing To Read

  1. I laughed so hard at parts of This Is Where I Leave You.

    I hear you. I finished Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson. A lovely book. Then a few minutes later dove into Fight Club by Chuck Palahnuik. Bad idea. It was like whiplash. I should have stuck with something less dark, eased my way in.

  2. I brought along five books for my vacation last week–and couldn’t get past the first chapter of any of them. While I’m tempted to blame my boisterous and invasive extended family, I’ve had the same experience at home. Sometimes NOTHING from my toppling to-be-read pile suits a certain mood. When that happens, I hit the bookstore and wander the aisles for an hour or two. I always leave poor, yet appeased.

    • My husband and I went to Greece about a billion years ago (i.e. before we had a child) and I think, not kidding, I brought twenty books. I couldn’t stand the idea of not having enough to read. Because what if they all sucked? I couldn’t very well just learn Greek could I?

  3. I’m a frustratingly picky reader. To the point where I will flat out refuse to read anything to save myself the disappointment of reading the first page of a book that does absolutely nothing for me. Yet when I do find something I love, I obsessively read it until the very end and cannot think about anything else. The end of an amazingly good read is so satisfying, yet disappointing. Sometimes I finish books and think “Well that was great, but I’ll probably have to wait three to six months before I find something else that good.”

    As an aspiring writer, you’d think I’d be more forgiving and read a diverse range of books. But I don’t. I don’t at all. That would be me vegging out on the sofa watching John Hughes films back to back having started four different books and not made it past the first page.

    The Novelist, however, is a reading machine. Anything from Breakfast at Tiffany’s to Jung’s Archetypes and the Creative Unconscious.

    It makes me sick.

  4. I know what you mean. I’m both so happy and so sad when I finish a good book. DO YOU HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS???!!!!!! I’ve only recently realized (since having the baby) that it’s totally okay to start a book and not finish it. This was a big deal. Makes life easier for sure – but then again, here I am with nothing to read.

    If you like the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s too, which i do (I’ve read that book a billion times) check out Fifth Avenue 5 a.m. You’ll love it!

  5. i resort to online shopping or a ridiculous number of hours on the couch with Gilmore Girl reruns or my beloved box set of My So Called Life. (this is probably where i need to disclose that i’m a 37 years old wife, mom, and professional who works in an actual office—sad, i know).

    i’ve been laughing out loud to John Waters Role Models; a good read by someone creative. plus, you don’t have to commit to a full front-cover to back-cover read-thru as each chapter is a window into different areas of his life and not chronologically necessary.

    my unhealthy book buying habit extends to magazines as well; when i can’t “get into” anything bookwise; i go through my stacks of magazines that I have a hard time tossing…O, Vanity Fair, Body + Soul (now Whole Living), New York Magazine, Interview, and on and on.

    my 6 year old daughter and i have magazine parties where we go through all my old magazines and tear out anything that strikes our fancy…shoes, jewelry, book reviews, photos whatever. it gets me back into a creative spirit of sorts and keeps her entertained.

    • I have been watching an insane amount of LifeTime. I really do need to subscribe to more magazines so I’m ready when emergencies such as this pop up. I just ran over to the library where I got a book I was really excited about, only to discover I had in fact read it already. So, in addition to being bored I am apparently also losing my mind. Awesome.

  6. A couple random ideas:

    Losing Mum and Pup: A Memoir by Christopher Buckley, if like me, you’re fascinated by the lifestyle of the infamous Buckleys.

    John Updike, but not Rabbit Redux — too raw.

    Death In Venice — Thomas Mann is so beautiful every time.

    A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World William J. Bernstein is just brilliant.

    Atonement — Ian McEwan is mesmerizing.

    Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro.

    Best of luck finding your next book!

    • “Too Much Happiness” is fantastic. Of course, I’m a tad biased: Huge Alice Munro fan…and I’m Canadian, too. The book is great because you’re reading quality *short* stories. Bite-sized and perfect.

      Another good thing in the short-story arena is a classic F. Scott Fitzgerald collection.

      Being a mother to a 18-month-old, busy, cute potato means I also don’t have time to read books. I’ve come to really appreciate shorts. Working on (read *dreaming* about it) finding a way to get actual novels read–start to finish.

  7. In these situations I usually resort to some old standbys. The Great Gatsby, a Joanna Trollope novel that I haven’t read (I think she’s completely underrated and overlooked!) or Laurie Colwin. Might have to do that – or I’ll take one of your suggestions. I’ve been meaning to read Christopher Buckley’s memoir . . .

    • I would love to know what you think of Losing Mum and Pup — I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. Thanks for the tip to read Joanna Trollope. I just finished Stephen King’s memoir on writing and it is really, really good. He mentions Mary Karr’s The Liars Club so that’s on my list now too.

  8. Have you read Dominique Browning’s book, Slow, Love? It’s the last one I read. I like her blog very much, too… slowlovelife.com

  9. Happy to have found your blog! I usually let myself read crappy magazines until a new book grabs my attention. When you read and write for your day job (yes, everyone does, but I mean a LOT), there are bound to be dry spells. I am reading Committed (Elizabeth Gilbert), which is a little slow-going thus far, and A Year in Provence (Peter Mayle), which is yummy. I just finished Commencement (J. Courtney Sullivan), which I really enjoyed. New reading trick: using my Kindle while doing the elliptical machine at the gym.

  10. I know exactly what you mean – often when I finish a book, I find it so hard to get into another one, especially if it’s in a different genre.

    And so yes, I often succumb to the lure of mindless television.

    It’s my only weakness.

    Well, actually, it’s one of my many, many weaknesses.

    But that’s a whole other comment altogether.

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