The school year has begun, so my self-assigned goal to remain present in this space has also begun. Look for posts once a week.
It is not an uncommon reality for a reader to hit a rut. It has been written about with greater frequency, skill, and grace than I care to approach here, but I want to focus for a moment on a particular kind of reading frustration, one that I think often gets ignored. Towards the end of the summer, I got to spend time with two of my favorite people, both bookish friends. Naturally, they asked what I'd been reading lately, and I blanked. I had to check my list. I could think of only one that stood out in an entire summer of reading, and that one I wanted to dismiss as not worthy of my continued attention upon it. The problem was (is?) that none of the books I had been reading were capturing me completely. When I review my list, I can say with confidence that the last 16 books I have read have been good. I didn't actively dislike any of them (though my review of I Kill the Mockingbird might have leaned that way), but neither was I changed by them. Being moved, changed, inspired by a book is part of my core, and there is definitely something wrong when that hasn't happened in months of reading.
The question is: What causes the rut? (Not that kind.)
Is it merely coincidence? The stars aligning to give me a strong dose of average before some excellence comes my way?
Is it the State of Books Today? Just no.
Or is it me? A mindset I am bringing to the reading or the selecting or both? Though coincidence does likely play a role, I'm putting my chips on this one.
I think I've been selecting the wrong books for the wrong reasons and reading them in the wrong ways. That's a lot of wrong, and if it's true, I've been lucky to get so many averages out of it. Take note of the evidence:
Digital reading is not the best format for me to fully dig in to a book
- the majority of my summer reads were digital
There's a difference between reading for my class and reading for myself
- half of the last 16 books have had some connection to school
Being changed by a book requires you be fully invested in it
- a huge number of books I have read recently have been accidental or for random reasons
That seems to prove the onus is on me. But take heart, friends, I'm reading now a book that I bought after reading a NYT review of it. A book I wanted to read. A book I felt was important. Now, it won't likely be THE ONE. I've read David Grossman before, and it wasn't among my favorite books of all time, but still I am intrigued by this book and what it may demand of me. Because after all, a book is like any other relationship. If it doesn't demand anything of you, it's probably not offering much either.
I think it's about time I allowed my books to make some demands.