What Kind of Reader Are You?

I am a mood reader. All the way. There is no way I’m sticking to a TBR. This is especially difficult when it comes to review copies, but that’s a topic for another day.

I’ve always been one to resist authority and obligation. I hate being told I have to do something, or feeling like I have to. Immediately all the fun is sucked out of it. This is even true of self-imposed obligations.

For example, I seriously doubt my ability to be a productive member of a book club. Even if it was a book I really wanted to read, just knowing that there was a certain date I’d have to read it by would ruin everything and get my rebellious juices going. If I did manage to get it read, I can guarantee you it was reluctantly—no matter how good the book was.

Personally, I have hundreds, if not thousands, of books on my TBR. Am I going to read all these? No. But I like having them there. It makes me happy to look at them. Granted, not all of them are physically on a TBR pile. However, I do have at least a couple hundred that are.

I know that there are many people who are intent on getting there TBR pile down and #readingtheirowndamnbooks, and good for them, but that has never been my way. I need to feel a certain connection in that moment to a book if I’m going to hunker down and read it.

This is usually an effort of trial and error in which I scan my shelves/the shelves in a bookstore/the shelves at the library, and read the first page of several different books that attract my attention. Sometimes this process goes rather quickly, and sometimes it takes quite a while. Generally, it ends when I come to a book and don’t want to put it down just yet. I want to read the next page. And the next. And then that’s the book that I’m reading.

I was telling this to a woman I work with the other day. She gave me a bit of a guffaw and didn’t understand how I could possibly operate that way. She said that she always has a stack of books that she is waiting to get to and always reads the one that’s next in line. I’m sure that works for her, and probably others. But I know that if I tried to read that way, I would be in a major reading slump half the time. I really need to connect to a book and be really interested in it in that moment. I know that might sound a little hokey, but I’ll admit it: I’m a fickle reader.

This is something that, especially when it comes to the library, does not always work in my favor. My funds are not endless (obviously), and in an effort to save space and those dolla dolla bills y’all, I try to make use of my library when I can (which is always, because I work there). But this doesn’t always go according to plan. If the book I want to read has a holds list, chances are by the time it comes in for me, I won’t be in the mood for it any more.

Honestly, I’m basically the worst library book reader. Not only is it the holds list issue, it’s the also the due date issue. Remember my dislike of obligation? I hate having that time limit. Do I take into consideration that it rarely takes me the allotted three weeks to read a book? No. Do I consider the possibility of renewing the title? No. Do I consider the fact that because I work there, there is really no repercussions if I return it a bit late? No. Just knowing that there is some kind of restriction placed on me ruffles my feathers.

And even considering all of these things and knowing this about myself, does that stop me from borrowing all the books? No! I’m a huge book gluten and can’t resist taking home those beautiful, shiny books. They just happen to come home, sit there for a while, and then go back to the library unread. Shrugs. I guess I just like to go where the wind takes me or whatever.

I’m weird. Are you? 

Reading Slumps, Blogger Burnout, and Quarter Life Crises

Life has been super weird lately. Things had been going pretty well, everything seeming to fall into place. Then I felt a familiar, unwelcome twinge. I could sense a shadow lurking around the corner, waiting to cover me in its darkness: a reading slump. It all started going downhill from there.

It came upon me slowly at first. Then all at once. While dipping my toes in a few good, interesting books, I found myself losing focus. I was gravitating to the television. To the mall. To friends. These things are not bad in themselves. They are pretty great, actually. But I was setting aside these great books, and pretty consistently.

In a vain effort to stave off the slump, I put those books down and cracked open some comics. I had hoped that a change of pace might revamp my momentum. And for a little while, it did. I caught up on the Amulet series, read a couple volumes of Sweet Tooth, and I powered through the first book of Y: The Last Man. But then… I got stuck halfway through the second book, even though it was awesome. I thought, maybe if I switch to a different series? But that didn’t help. I was officially in slump territory.

As a reader, I’m no stranger to the occasional reading slump—they happen to the best of us. But for me, this one has been different. This one has been lingering, and causing stagnation, not only in my reading life, but in other areas as well.

As of right now, I haven’t finished a book in two months—not since April. I read those comics in May, but since then, I’ve read basically nothing.

If you’re a reader, you may know the feelings that accompany a reading slump. The frustration, the listlessness, the discouragement, the lack of sense of accomplishment. And these feelings have been snowballing the longer my slump has been going on. Not only so, but, like I mentioned, they have been seeping into other aspects of my life as well.

Before my slump began, I had slowed down my reading to allow for more time to focus on other things. I found that to be a good thing, something that was enriching my life. But as my reading shrank to nothing, those feelings of enrichment ceased. When I am unable go out or be with friends, I long to fill my time with books—but I haven’t seemed to be able to do it. Nothing can keep my attention.

I haven’t been able to engage in conversations with colleagues about the latest books I’ve read because I haven’t been reading. I haven’t been able to join the discourse online because I haven’t been reading. I haven’t had anything to say on my blog because, again, I haven’t been reading.

Books are such an important part of my life, not only for personal enjoyment and growth, but as a means to connect to a broader community. These last few months without that sense of connection has led to a deep feeling of loss, disconnect, and disillusionment. It has led to questions of identity and belonging. And the timing of these things has led, essentially, to a full blown quarter life crisis.

I’m turning 25 in a month, and I am feeling incredibly disillusioned about life. Not only that, but I’m struggling to define my identity. I’ve always identified as a reader, but what am I outside of that? Who am I when I’m not reading or talking about books? What do I think? What do I believe? I’ve been questioning everything lately. There is nothing wrong with questioning—really it’s something we should all do more of. But I’ve been questioning things that have always been at my core. And it’s kind of scary.

I want this time of my life to be a fun and exciting adventure of self-discovery. But lately, none of it has been very fun at all. I think in general I’m a pretty positive person, but I’ve been having trouble feeling positive lately.

I’m moving out in a little under a month. I’m hoping that this new responsibility and independence will be the turning point for me and bring back the fun and excitement. And hopefully my reading will get back on track.

What’s the longest reading slump you’ve ever had? How did it make you feel? Did those feelings seep into other parts of your life? Have you experienced a quarter life/identity crisis? Do you have any advice?