Friday, February 15, 2013

Reading Dry Spells

Discussion Topic: Reading Dry Spells

Just because you love to read doesn't mean you love to read everything. I'm not referring simply to genre tastes, but to those harder to name elements. I say I love fantasy, but I've certainly read multiple fantasy books in a row that didn't appeal to me, despite my pre-read conviction that they would.

I call these “reading dry spells”: when you read book after book that doesn't appeal. Needless to say, these spells are discouraging. I've talked with many other readers who find dry spells so off-putting that it halts their reading for weeks to months until they can gather enough motivation to take a chance once again on a book they may (or may not) love.

I once said to a friend, "I think a lot of people don't read, because they've read something they didn't like and it put them off reading in general." Regardless of whether or not you agree with my comment, my friend's response is amusing: "That's like saying, 'Oh, I had a really unpleasant conversation with a nasty person, so I don't think I'll ever talk to anyone else ever again.'"

Avid readers adore books, well, because they've encountered so many books that they adore! Of course, that doesn't mean they haven't read disappointments as well. What makes us lunge for another book even after we finish a terrible one? What makes some readers trust in books as a whole even after stumbling across dreadful ones? What story flaws can make our overall enthusiasm for reading wane? For me at least, the wonders so outnumber the disappointments that my dry spells are few and far between. My pace may slow a little if I read many books in a short time that I dislike, but I never come to full reading deadlocks.

How do you pull through a reading dry spell? The obvious answer is with good books, but, unless you re-read an old favorite, you're still taking a chance on a book that might not meet your tastes. If you want to read something new, you could ask for a recommendation from another reader whose taste you trust. Or you could always let the dry spell do its work: rather than forcing yourself to read when you’re not tempted simply wait until you find a book that you couldn’t resist if you tried. One habit I've developed that significantly helps with dry spells is reading multiple books at once. If I spend months wading through one book that didn't really hold my attention to then follow that up with two more that are equally unimpressive it's hard to flip open the pages of yet another book that might not meet my expectations. However, with multiple books, I can switch between them depending on my mood and depending on which ones I'm enjoying the most. Also, if I do read a lacking novel, odds are that I'm also in the middle of one (or two or three) that are incredible at the same time!

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