Some people say not to force books on yourself. Some people say just to switch books like you switch jeans and keep it up until you can’t unbutton it. Occasionally, one must get flippant with a book and pursue the book like an already broken-hearted woman. A book must be wooed they say, it must be picked specifically off the shelf and breathed-in.
But some books don’t want to be chosen.
Some books just want to sit upright on the shelf, hugged-up between others of their kind like hallway high school kids. Some books come at the wrong time and expect the relationship to work. But the characters, the characters are drowning in the reader’s boredom. Or the book is just too long and it seems endless. Or it’s being read on one of those new-fangled electronic books and the readers finger is tired of swiping left after all that time on Tinder and only a few stolen night minutes on the Kindle App. Those readers argue “at least Tinder peaks,” when it takes this book I’ve been scanning a solid thirty pages just to set-up the character’s useless boyfriend.
I’ve read recommendations from bookists at Book Riot. The problem is that I just can’t read the same book twice. There are too many books in the world for me to eat the same salad everyday. I’ve tried the library because at least then I have a time limit. Last night, instead of reading my Joyce Carol Oates book, I looked at random readers on Instagram and fantasized about eating a donut.
Maybe I can’t read because I’ve been eating sugar snap peas for days.
I doubt it.
In my last reading funk, finally, I read The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht and pushed through it like I was in combat. That book was all folktale and family ties. It was an adult fairytale of fiction, and I read it because frankly, I was confused. I wanted to know what the heck was happening in the multiple story lines so I read on until the myth became realized and I was stuck between adoration and jealousy that I hadn’t written the book and Tea Obreht is so young with a work of miracle under her belt. (If anyone has any really confusing but worthwhile recommendations in the literary genre, maybe I could try those)
This one is less combat and more just sadness. I’m cramming books into my mouth like they’re chocolate chip cookies. And I read hard for a few days, I rise and shine to the words, but seven chapters in, I’m leaving it under the bed or moving it back to the TBR shelf because there’s another option just three down in the pile, and surely it will make me finish. Someone needs to hold me accountable. I need a reading coach. And I need that coach to act like the man on Maury who takes children to jail and “scares them straight.” Instead of push-ups, pages. Instead of muscles, mounted plot diagrams. Instead of squats, sentences.
Usually I’m up for a challenge, I work better under pressure. This, though, this, slump of all slumps has been a few months long. I even spent a day at a coffee shop with my boyfriend where he obsessively read Lord of the Rings to the point of laughing out loud and I sat there listening to the circle of old men across the walk from us. It got so bad at one point that I was writing a blog of his Lord of the Rings translations (they are pretty funny so I will probably post it when he reads me more of them). The group of grays were discussing war and women, the building blocks of old man-ness. Instead of just letting Beej read, I interrupted him to tell him their stories. I poked and prodded. I interrupted his reading to force the slump his way. Maybe it’s like a horror movie demon, you can force it off onto someone else. (This is just pure lazy).
I hoped maybe it would rub off, but the stuckness of it is strong.
I can’t even ask for recommendations because they would just end up on the TBR under the 217 pages read of Swamplandia and the first two essays in Love and Other Ways of Dying. I’ve been with four Cormac McCarthy books in seven days. I’ve even highlighted lines and let them shift just under the pillow so that I don’t have to look at them anymore.
One can’t just look a book in the cover when she’s about to throw it away on some new release.
Those books left willy nilly in piles around the house. Those books that are slightly crooked from their recent placement on the shelf. Don’t even get started with the TBR pile that has become a Walmart bookshelf. I keep it close to the bed just so I can grab the next, but lately, it’s just been a bite of each.
I can’t have my cake and eat it too. I can’t even get to the icing.
All these left out characters. All these unread words.
I’m beginning to think it won’t ever end. It’s a Stephen King novel of slumpness. A Moby Dick of slacking. A Canterbury Tales of excuses. A Wuthering Heights of book break-ups. It’s a Hemingway ending. A Les Mis of cold hard truths.
I’ll try anything. I need saving. This is my SOS.
SAVE OUR SOULS (Mine and all those characters that are only getting a short flirt and not a full on fling).