Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Reading Drought

Every once in awhile I'll go through a phase where I just can't finish a book. I pick up novels and get annoyed by the characters a chapter in, or by the writing a few pages in. I start nonfiction histories and am interested for a few chapters, but ultimately get lost in a sea of unfamiliar names and stop caring what happened to any of them. And it's frustrating, because there's nothing like the pleasure of getting lost in a good book.

I'm in such a drought now, as evidenced by the fact I haven't blogged about a book in over a week. In that time, I've cast aside a pair of novels, one a YA historical novel that was just a tad too Afterschool Special in its life lessons, the other a double period piece--it was written 80 or 90 years ago, about events that took place ~350 years ago. In the right mood, I could've enjoyed both books, but this week I didn't feel like being preached to by the former, nor putting up with certain old-school conventions of the latter. (No protagonist of mine, whatever his century, woos his woman with "punishing kisses." He just doesn't.) I've also abandoned two nonfiction histories which started out promising but turned dry and slow-paced.

I hope I get past this soon. I started a new research book this morning, Royal Mourning and Regency Culture, by Stephen C. Behrendt, on the cultural impact of Princess Charlotte's brief life and tragic 1817 death in childbirth. This just shows what a geek I am, but so far it's a page-turner. I'm also about to start a semi-research book, For Liberty and Glory, by James R. Gaines, about Washington, Lafayette, and the American and French Revolutions, which sounds so fascinating it had better be good. And if that doesn't work, I've got a Bernard Cornwell in my TBR pile--nothing like a writer you know and trust to tell a good story.

What about you? How do you get out of a reading drought?


Sara said...

I hate that feeling of not being in the middle of a book. Fortunately the staff at my local library do a good job of putting interesting things on the "hey, have you seen this" rack by the door; it's saved me quite a few times.

Susan Wilbanks said...

It's not so much that I have trouble finding ideas for what to read as I don't enjoying books that would normally be right up my alley. It's like I go through a hyper-picky phase where any tiny flaw will throw me out of the book. I think it's worse when I'm stressed and/or busy, which of course is when it'd be all the better to be able to get lost in a good book.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the close reading, Susan (if I may), and you're right about population. It's a good point. Best, Jim Gaines