My dear friends,
It has been some considerable period of time since I wrote you last, (and it may be some time before I write you again. Forgive me.)
I have been recently battling, and conquering my reading hiatus. The long dry-spell between books – it’s not a matter of being unable to choose. Sometimes my infinite to-read pile is just too long, I can’t bear to finish the chapter I’m on and I can’t sink my teeth into a new book.
…so, the purpose of this post is not necessarily to break your literary dry-spell, but, I aim to shed light, to empower, to challenge. A wall only need lose a single brick to crumble. Wood only needs a crack to splinter. A sheet of glass only needs a chip to shatter.
Right – now the poetry’s over, we can talk business.
To begin, I have a few suggestions.
- Let it pass, don’t even think about it.
..seems a bit obvious, doesn’t it? But sometimes life can rain on one’s wee reading parade. Day-dream on the bus, listen to relaxing music before you go to sleep, have long cups of tea, draw a bath. Books are patient fellows. You’ll come back to reading, you won’t forget how.
- Listen to an audiobook.
Chances are your favourite actor has done an audiobook as part of their work. Tom Hiddleston, Stephen Fry, Benedict Cumberbatch, Richard Burton, Martin Freeman, Meryl Streep, Idris Elba, Javier Bardem, Ryan Gosling have all done audiobooks as part of their respective portfolios – why not go from there?
- Read an old favourite.
Start at page one, start at page 145, read your favourite part over and over, go through the pages and finally look up all those words you weren’t sure of. Start at the end, jump the boring book in the series. Allow yourself to be flexible with old favourites.
- Try a new genre.
Start something totally different, let it be strange, get acclimatised, or don’t. Become absorbed in a new author’s prose, frown at plot lines, find a new favourite, figure out why you’re not so keen on Scandinavian crime writers. Dive in headfirst, it’s the best way to get used to swimming.
- Read a book a level below you.
Roll your eyes at the predictable plots perhaps, be astonished at the smaller chapters, fall in love with a character that’s seven years younger than you, grow fond of a book with pictures, appreciate the lines of an illustrator, finish the book in a day, discover why this book was tricky to read when you were eight. Read, relax, don’t think too hard.
- Read a magazine – they should have a fiction section, too.
Hey – it counts. It’s reading, on a page, with lines, and prose, and punctuation. Plenty of magazines have fiction sections, some with incredibly famous authors contributing. It’s all the pleasure of reading with half the commitment, enjoying an author with half the pressure.
- Read one page.
Hey, you read a page! You should be well-chuffed. Don’t let that achievement slide. Tick it off your to-do list, get on with your day. You’ll reach the end of the book eventually, it’s not a race. Who knows – maybe you’ll read more than a page, maybe you’ll grow to set a daily limit. Reading is reading is reading, and shouldn’t be disregarded.
- Read fanfiction.
Although I’m not a huge fan, fanfiction has once rather aptly been described to me as ‘the punk rock’ of literature. …or something to that effect. There’s plenty of it out there. It varies from the weird and the wonderful, the strange and bizarre, the poorly-written, the well-written, the in-depth, the brief, the…questionable, the not-bads and mediocres, the brilliant and bookmarked-in-your-browsers. Try none, or try them all.
- Read comic books.
Comic books, graphic novels – I consume them. They’re easy to read if written well and don’t require much concentration to read. I like to flip through the pages and watch the BAM!, THWACK!, CRUNCH! All fly past. They’re bright and simple and often with very little dialogue. So throw away your stereotypes about comic book readers and fanatics, try it while you wander through the Novel’s No Man’s Land.
- Listen to a podcast
Okay, so it’s not really a book, but a lot of them have chapters, characters, plots, dialogue, jokes, drama. Pick up something you fancy and give it a listen while you’re making the commute, or cleaning your room, or falling asleep, or waiting. If anything, it might serve to inspire you to read again.
- Make a fort. — Trust me.
Build a sacred little reading space – somewhere comfortable you can sit and read for a while. Decorate it as you like, make it as big, or as small, as spacious, or as cozy as you like. Construct it out of bedding, out of towels and old linens, out of books, out of boxes, out of spare furniture, out of gingerbread. If you build a place you want to be, chances are, you might like to read there, too.
So, there it is. A rather lengthy post about how to beat one’s reading hiatus. (I only hope, for those who are currently struggling, that I’ve kept you to the end.)
May the road rise to meet you,
…may the wind always be at your back, may the sun shine warm upon your face…