I often find myself in terrible reading funks, unable to concentrate, disconnected and distracted. It happens a lot more than this self-proclaimed book lover cares to admit, the weary push through book after book. Whether the book is good, bad, or mediocre, it can be an awful lot like pulling teeth. The funk is Seinfeldian in nature. It’s not you it’s me, I whisper to the poor pages.
I am happy to report that I am on quite the opposite track these days. I’m on a runaway reading spree. Completely alert. Flying through books. As soon as I finish one, I’m ravenous for another. The New York Public Library can barely keep up with me.
But, again, it’s me, not the books. I recently raced through two books. They were written by two critically acclaimed writers with big prizes attached to their names. The reading experience was completely painless. However, I did not like them. My impression of them will remain stagnant, stale.
I think it’s interesting that a book can still be unsatisfying, whether I’m in the right mindset or the wrong one, whether I’m racing forward or slogging through.
And, in the same way, a book can stand out no matter what frame of mind I’m in. I read Marcus Zusak’s The Book Thief during one of my worst reading funks to date. It lifted me out of the reading funk only temporarily, for the six hours I sat to read it, then I drowned in the funk quicksand immediately after.
And yet, the love of a certain book can be all about timing. For example, I read Jane Eyre at the age of fourteen and despised it, then read it several years later and, to this day, count it as one of my all time favorite books.
But I’m finding little rhyme or reason to it all.
I’m curious to know your thoughts. Do you think it is particular mindset that allows you to love or hate a book? Is it the quality of the book itself? A serendipitous combination?