Reader’s Block

A Reader’s Worst Nightmare

I’m currently reading Gene Wolfe’s The Book of the New Sun: The Shadow of the Torturer. The book has been sitting on my TBR list for over five years and was one of the recommended reads in the 5th edition of the Dungeons and Dragons Player’s Handbook. Lately, I’ve been going into overdrive with reading, having read a large number of different authors since the start of the year.

Yet, I’m just not feeling it with this story. I’m finding it hard to even pick up, let alone enjoy it how I want to. Rarely have I gone anywhere without the book I’m currently reading lately, seeing it as mandatory to have on me. Yet, I’m going places and I’ve forgotten to grab it on my way out. I want to enjoy it, but I’m just not at this point. This lack of enjoyment has made me kind of stall a bit when it comes to reading. And now, I feel I’m stuck in that dreaded place for a reader: the reader’s block.

A Condition That Is Affecting Other Readers I Know

I’m not the only one in my family who is currently going through a sort of reader’s block at this point. My girlfriend has been struggling to get through the book she’s reading right now as well; having been reading it for close to two months. And she rarely even picks it up to calm down after studying for bed. My Granddad has had similar issues as well. He found it hard to get through the last book he was reading and now he’s stopped reading in general.

My copy of Gene Wolfe’s The Book of the New Sun: Shadow of the Torturer. Also includes The Claw of Conciliator (Book Two in the series).

The reasons why the three of us have struggled with reading lately are diverse. I’m fixated on trying to get work and my work search has come at the cost of time to read. I’m also going through Hades on the Nintendo Switch as well, which I’ve been finding more enjoyable than my current book. My girlfriend is currently studying nursing and recently had exams, so she’s been studying so much lately. Her brain is fried so she tends to watch TV to de-stress rather than read. And my Granddad hasn’t been reading as much lately as he’s found it harder to concentrate due to his age. He can still recall stories from his favourite authors, like Allister Mclean and Tony Park, but anything recent, he finds it harder to read.

A Struggle All Too Common with “Greats” and Fantasy

The works of literature I’ve found to have the most amount of reader’s block tend to be the so-called “greats”. I’ve struggled to read through so many “greats” of literature in the past, be it Frank Herbert’s Dune, and Robert A Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land. I’m not sure if it’s due to my expectations versus the reality, or just the fact I found them to not be as “great” as so many other people have declared them to be. Getting through them, in the end, became more of a slog than enjoyment.

My controversial opinion on some of the “Greats” of literature I’ve read over the years.

I also have a lot of problems with reading fantasy books overall. I enjoy the genre and have read many great works of fantasy, but I find a lot very difficult to read. These are the ones that are spread over multiple series with very chunky entries. Yes, they may be great, but some have so much detail in them that I find it hard to focus. Jay Kristoff’s Nevernight is one example of this. Although I liked the book, the heavy amount of information in the footnotes did throw me off and made reading it feel more like a chore than an enjoyable experience.

Some books I’ve struggled to get through in some way shape or form in the last three years.

How Can It Be Helped?

Like many other blocks, it can sometimes take time to get out of that rut. I’ve had similar lately with my drawing and graphic design, which I got out of through visiting a surrealist exhibition at the Art Gallery. Now, I have a temptation to draw, which has been something I wanted to return for ages.

I guess the same can be said about reading. Reading short stories has helped re-boot me from previous reader’s blocks. Being short and imaginative has aided in making reading fun again. It reminds me of how much I enjoy reading, as well as all the imagination books can bring.

Another technique I found to be effective is going back to read a story that I enjoyed before. Recently, one of those stories was H.P. Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness. Reading it again makes me fall in love with reading all over again, and spoke to me in the way only a book can. I need to re-establish that connection too, in a bid to help make the crazy world of job-searching more tolerable. It’s through that that one can get out of a reader’s block.


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