Sometimes it’s really weird, but every now and then I just don’t want to read.
I experienced this a lot when I was a student. I studied History, so the majority of my course was reading. When it came to my free time I didn’t want to read any more, so for those years my reading for pleasure was severely limited.
I also don’t like reading too much when I’m in the middle of a good writing spell. I can normally read a few books at once and keep track of what’s going on in the different stories, but when I’m writing my own story, it’s easier to keep my head straight if I don’t add other writing into the mix.
The effect of a bad experience with a book though is by far the very worst reason why I stop reading; not necessarily because the book is bad, but my experience of it is isn’t good. Every now and then I come across a book that literally stops me from reading anything. It happened to my father for twenty years because he studied Wuthering Heights at school, and every now and then it happens to me.
And I am in the middle of one of those phases at the moment, and I hate it.
For five months or more now I’ve been waiting with excited anticipation for Benedict Jacka’s latest book ‘Burned’ to be released. I was even travelling to Amsterdam on the day it was coming out, and catching a flight for the first time in eleven years. Needless to say I had a lot on my mind, but I was so excited about this book I made time on that day to get a hold of a copy.
And I haven’t read a word.
It isn’t Benedict Jacka’s fault either; it was the book I was attempting to read beforehand that has done me in. The book in question to some might be utterly brilliant, and they have made a movie adaptation, but I could not read ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’ by Ransom Riggs.
I have a 100 page rule – I get to page 100 at least before I stop. I barely made it to pg 87 before I put the book down at the end of a commute one day and after two weeks of reading nothing at all, I finally realised that it was that book stopping me. I gave up and handed it back to my friend who I borrowed it from, and I’ve been trying to get over it since.
I’m not even sure what was wrong, because the concept of the book is unique, what I read of the story sounded interesting and the characters were well rounded, but I just could not connect to this book at all; it broke my liking of reading, to the point that I start feeling anxious when I think about ‘Burned’.
I especially don’t like it, because Jacka’s books hold a very dear place in my heart, because more than once when I have been at my very lowest with my depression and suffering from anhedonia (the inability to feel pleasure in normally pleasurable activities) the Alex Verus books have given me back my love and pleasure of reading.
I have that problem now, but now with the added complication that I’m apprehensive of reading something from a series that has such meaning to me after such a bad experience with another book. I fear being disappointed by ‘Burned’; I know logically and emotionally that this is very unlikely, as Jacka’s books generally have just got better and better over time, but this is an overwhelming anxiety that I’m struggling to overcome.
I have finished and started crochet projects to avoid being bored and to avoid thinking about reading again; it’s been great for my other hobbies, especially ones I can’t do while I’m reading a book, but considering I’m in a really good mood at the moment, and in a very good place with my mental well-being, I’m not comfortable with these feelings I’m having towards reading. But experiencing this does make me wonder how many others have the same problem, and why others don’t read as much as I normally do.
Are many of us so affected by books we have bad experiences with that we aren’t comfortable picking up the good ones?