As a reader, there is nothing more frustrating than finding yourself in a reading rut, either lacking any desire to read (gasp!) or simply not being able to find a book you can really sink your teeth into. Sadly, that is exactly where I’ve been for the past few days. I must have picked up half a dozen different books in the past week or two. I finished one on the 11th (Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult), and started another one that day (Ash & Bramble by Sarah Prineas), but I haven’t even bothered to pick up a book in the past few days. Instead, I’ve been binge watching Law & Order: SVU.
For some, a few days of not reading is not a big deal. And it really shouldn’t be for me either. I’ve read 100 books already this year, which is a record for me, so it isn’t as if I haven’t been prioritizing my reading goals. I’ve been averaging 11 books a month, or about 2.5 books a week. Not too shabby, right? But, I’m so frustrated that I haven’t been able to find a reading groove the past few days. It’s one thing to not have time, another thing entirely to simply not be able to lose yourself in your favorite pastime.
And what is the problem exactly? Have I simply not found the right book or am I a little burnt out? I suspect it’s a little of both.
This year has been the year of the galley/ARC for me. 72% of the books I’ve read this year have been galleys. It wasn’t part of my plan for the year, but it’s how it turned out, and I haven’t even begun to finish all of the galleys I’ve committed to. And September and October were heavy galley months for me in terms of publishing dates…there was no way I was going to get them all read when I felt I should, so I started to feel overwhelmed.
And I haven’t read very many books from my own ever-growing collection in the past few months. My personal TBR keeps growing, but I’ve set aside no time at all to read them. Or I tell myself I’ll read one or two of my own, but then I feel guilty that I have galleys that are past due, and so I don’t. So I keep walking by my bookshelves, staring longingly at all the delicious stories waiting for me, and feeling a little sad that I don’t feel like I can read them.
Now, all that said, I love having access to the galleys. I asked for nearly all of them, or at least accepted an offer to read them. And I have enjoyed the majority of those I’ve read. There are a handful that I might not have picked up otherwise because they haven’t gotten as much word of mouth as they deserve (so it’s less likely I would have heard about them), and I would have been seriously missing out. Valley of the Moon, The Wolf Road, and The Sunlight Pilgrims were some of my favorite reads this year, and I feel privileged that I got to be an early reader for these tremendous pieces. So, I definitely don’t want to give the impression that I’m in a reading rut because of galleys.
No. I’m in a reading rut because I have no balance in my reading life right now. Because I overcommitted myself and then overburdened myself with pressure, which made something I love feel like work.
My solution? First, I gave myself a few days off to vegetate and recalibrate. It’s possible I might take a few more days. And for Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon on Saturday the 22nd, I’m allowing myself to read whatever I want, with a strong focus on reading books from my own collection. And from here on out, I’m striving for balance, perhaps even specifying a more detailed reading plan for next year limiting the number of galleys I’ll read so this doesn’t happen again.
Because I love reading. And I want to keep loving it. And I really, really detest reading ruts.
Have you suffered any reading ruts this year? What was the cause? Do you think it’s preventable or just a part of the reading life?