Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Reading Rut

Woman Reading in a Landscape
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot

I'm in a reading rut. 

There's no doubt about it, a reading rut sucks. You know those times when no book, no matter how brilliant it is, can hold your attention for more than thirty seconds? When you pick up one book after another (after another) hoping that something, anything will suck you into its fictional world? When you gaze upon your bookshelves with a longing envy, because even though books are patiently waiting to be plucked from the dusty confines of the top shelf, you simply can't do much about it? When not even that cheesy escapist novel with a fifth-grade reading level can compel you to bury yourself in the intoxicating smell of the printed page? These are the horrible symptoms of a reading rut, and all apply to my current feelings for anything literary.

I've experienced the dreaded reading rut enough times in my life to know that it's best if I just wait out the storm. But, oh, how I wish I were reading -- not only for the joy that literature inevitably brings to my life, but also so that I could share wonderful discoveries with you. Unfortunately, it's difficult to blog when you struggle to make it through a single chapter of the simplest text! 

Hopefully I will soon return to a reading frenzy, racing through pages because I simply can't. get enough. Then I will tell you how this author brought me to tears with the beauty of her words and how that book compelled me to stay up all night until I reached its blissful conclusion.

In the meantime I have been keeping myself occupied with the following:

Still trying to find a career. Oh, the joy!

Exercising. Perhaps this is due to the impending arrival of summer, but suddenly I've felt the need to get in shape. The evening weather is perfectly suited to speed walks with chubby dogs.

Gardening. Wholly unaccustomed to yard work of any kind, this year I've suddenly become my mother's assistant outside. Armed with sunscreen and shades, I've pulled weeds, planned out the placement of new shubbery, and planted flowers. Oh, I also managed to kill off whole sections of grass in the attempt to root out dandelions. Whoops.

Do you have any sure-fire methods of emerging from a reading rut? If so, please share your tips!


Jillian said...

Oh, I'm in one too! I didn't know it was a reading rut (or that this was common.) I thought I was just scatter-brained! (I'm actually relieved.) :-D

Enjoy yours - ha!

o said...

Only thing I can suggest is don't fight the rut - if you try, it'll become a chore and it'll make it worse. On the other hand - Jeeves? Always helps me :)

Charlotte said...

The last one I had was cured by Nancy Mitford (so GOOD) but my other technique is to find a really good DVD boxset and replace reading with watching for a week or so, and then I'm normally more inspired.

On the vegetarian recipes front I am also a recent convert, largely due to the River Cottage Veg cookbook. You can get a lot of recipes on their website http://www.rivercottage.net/ Now I've come to appreciate being able to do things like making a meal out of a butternut squash ;)

amanda @ simplerpastimes said...

I think I've been in denial about being in a reading rut myself. Although my next library due date should inspire me a bit. Alas, I've never really worked out how to get out of one myself, so no lovely advice.

Here's hoping the season of reading ruts ends soon and we are all back to our lovely books!

Diana said...

Jillian: Well, I decided that they're called reading ruts -- the alliteration is simply too tempting to pass up.

It seems to me they're fairly common with readers. I mean, we can't be expected to keep up the pace indefinitely, can we? (If we are then I'm in real trouble!) The good thing about a rut is that I'm better able to appreciate what a gift literature is when I get back into a rhythm.

Diana said...

O: Yes, I'm trying to force myself through anything -- thus beginning and abandoning a large stack of books.

I think I will try Jeeves and see if that helps. P.G. Wodehouse is the antitode to all things unpleasant, and The Mating Season is sitting patiently on my shelves.

Brilliant suggestion, thank you!

Diana said...

Charlotte: Oh, Nancy Mitford! She's on my wishlist, and I'm waiting (not very patiently) until I can afford her. So looking forward to getting to know her.

Your advice to temporarily replace reading with tv is a great! This has often worked for me in the past. I'm inexplicably craving some awful reality television at the moment. Perhaps the utter mindlessness is just what I need to gear myself up for something more cerebral.

Oh, and thank you for the link. As someone who comes from a family/community of implacable omnivores, it's been a challenge to find vegetarian alternatives. But what a fun adventure!

Diana said...

Amanda: Stupid reading ruts! They seems to be spreading like wildfire at the moment. Can we blame it on spring and the change of seasons? Wouldn't it be lovely if we all just snapped out of it and dug back into the books?

I've got my fingers crossed for all of us who are currently impaired by a rut!

Sela said...

I always have a few shelves of what an old friend called "flu books". Easy to read favourites gleaned from a lifetime of bookwormery.
All the pleasure of reading with none of the challenge an overdosed brain sometimes cannot face.

Violet said...

Commiserations. I've been in a reading slump for the longest time. The only way I can read anything is to force myself to do it. I set a number of pages and make myself read them. No excuses. Hope yours lifts soon.

Diana said...

Sela: Yes, I know exactly what you mean! I love that your friend calls them flu books. Even though I'm not ill, my brain sort of feels like it does when suffering from a head cold. ;)

Diana said...

Violet: Isn't it the worst? I'm feeling very Coleridge-ish right now: Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.' Books all around me, books I want to read, but I just can't get into them.

Here's hoping the reading muse inspires both of us soon!

Caro said...

Oh, I've never found a more apt description of what a reading rut means than this one. I wish I had stumbled upon this post earlier, my own reading rut might have been easier to put up with.
Nevertheless. I hope your rut is gone now. I'm looking forward to sharing more reading experiences with you and finding out who will be the lucky author who moves you to tears with her work!

Diana said...

Caro: I look forward to sharing literature with you as well.

Sometimes a reading rut comes to a rather abrupt halt. This one, however, seems to be slowly letting up. I'm reading a bit here, a bit there, but I'm still not back to my usual pace. At least I'm reading *something* though. :)