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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Book Fatigue

I have gotten to a point in my life where I'm actually loathe to crack open a book or turn on my Nook. I didn't think it was possible, but it gradually snuck up to me until one day, I took a look at my book shelf at work after I had added three new books to it and I said to myself, "Ugh."

"Ugh?"

Ugh.

Define 'ugh'.

Sure.

For the longest time I've really enjoyed reading. Mostly non-fiction with the occasional piece of fiction thrown in for a change of pace. No matter what I read, I either enjoyed it or not. But slowly over the past year or so, which strangely enough coincided with signing my first publishing contract, I've turned from reading for fun to reading for critiquing.

Reading for critiquing, instead of reading for enjoyment.

It sounds really wrong to open a book and instead of reading it for the pure enjoyment, you open it and start reading it as a book reviewer.

In other words, are there typos? Is the writing dry or vibrant? Do certain elements (i.e. sexual encounters) help move the story or are they just eye candy? Does the plot make sense? Does it hold your attention? Does it do anything for me?

To be honest with everyone, as much as I like to read, I just can't see myself tackling any of the new reads that I got. And please keep in mind it's not because of the genres that they're in (romance and poetry), but it's because now the obligation of having to write a review of the novel in order to help my fellow writer (the bane of not wanting to do something half-assed).

Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy helping my fellow writers when I can because I know that someday that help will be reciprocated. But when it starts to become more like something you have to do, instead of something that you want to do, then you know it's time to take a break from reading.

So for the time being, it is my intention to take a short break from book reading. I'm not sure for how long, but most likely it will last until I can get my mojo back and get into the groove of enjoying what I read without looking at it from a writer's or book reviewer's point of view.

Book fatigue.

It's not for the faint of heart.

18 comments:

  1. I used to feel that way, but when I started getting inundated with requests to review, because I was doing so much on Amazon and Goodreads, I said to hell with it. Deleted Goodreads, and now just review what I WANT to on Amazon. I think the reciprocation you speak of is a pretty rare thing, and I also think it leads to books with a shit-ton of 4 and 5 star reviews that aren't as good as everyone says they are. This whole little cottage industry of writers-reviewing-writers for "the good of the scene" isn't a good thing, IMO. And no sense of obligation is going to stop me from reading whatever the hell I want. At least that is what I ultimately decided.

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  2. That is one thing I do not miss about reviewing books on a regular basis; hunting with that eagle eye out of habit.

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  3. Chris: I can definitely see your point of view in regards to reading vs. reviewing.

    I just have two accounts: Amazon and B&N, and I used to leave reviews on both (have a Nook, so...). But now I just do Amazon.

    I can understand your point of reading whatever you want in spite of any obligation you might have. But I'm built a wee bit different, so I have that nagging sense of obligation when it comes to reading books that I actually spent my money on. I don't like to waste money, which is why I rarely buy books to begin with.

    M: I've been finding as of late that it's getting harder to write book reviews, and even worse, I've found myself actually shooting a few blanks when it comes to reading non-fiction.

    I just want to be able to read books w/o looking at them with a critical eye, and for the moment, I can't seem to do that.

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  4. It happens to most of us at one time or another, G. I usually then go back to watching films to clear the palate. I read a helluva lot and about every five months experience what you're talking about.

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  5. David: I'm working through this one by doing a little writing, a little blogging, and watching the New York Mets.

    At the moment though, it's really, really bad.

    I had down time at work and I did almost everything except reading to keep myself occupied.

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  6. Taking a sabbatical from reading is a great idea. Everyone burns out eventually. Watch some TV!

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  7. Debra: I've been doing that for a while now, and that's always been part and parcel of my nighttime routine.

    My main thing now is to keep occupied during the day when I have down time to play with.

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  8. Try audio books. This way you don't see misspellings or typos.

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  9. We've all been there. You're handling it correctly, though. It's better to take some time off and recharge than to keep going and burn yourself out even more.

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  10. Just turned down a request for a review today for much of the same reason. I still am loving reading but am feeling pressured at times to read specific books, not because of pressure from the writers but from myself. I'm still trying to have fun with this whole reading thing.

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  11. G.A.: I used to do audio books back in the day when I used to work the overnight. On my days off (pre plethora of pay movie channels) I would listen to audio books. Also did it when I was about my sons age and had a longer attention span. Now my attention span isn't that great anymore, as my mind has a tendency to wander while listen to non-music c.d.'s.

    ABfTS: Thanks.

    It's been really tough to simply ignore what I got on my bookshelf or not go to the library when I have free time, but it's something that I definitely have to do if I want to keep my brain cells functioning.

    Charles: Same here. I really want to get back into reading the genres that I love, but at the same time, I want to widen my horizons too.

    Pressure on one's self is never a good thing.

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  12. I know exactly how you feel G: mainly as I did a lot of book reviews for the lit magazine I write for as you know. I wanted to read books without going through the thought process that I needed to write a critical review and just enjoy. As I've not done a review for quite a while now I think I'm almost over it - I'm at the stage where I'm thinking about reviews but the only ones that come to mind are: "That was great!" or "That was a piece of shit!" which are succinct but probably not what the average punter is looking for:)

    And when I've got my mojo back to I promise to write a review for Line 21!

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  13. I know what you mean - that's usually when I turn to mindless things to read. :)

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  14. Jane: Yeah, that sounds like a prudent course to take.

    I still two very small book reviews, but I'm trying to find enough motivation to post them on Amazon.

    Lynn: I have a few mindless books to read at work, but I haven't hit that truly mindless stage yet where I read a telephone book (honest) to feed the need to read.

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  15. I tend to only read on vacation!!

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  16. Bearman: Sometimes that is the only way to properly soak up a good book. No stress, no interruptions and no aggravation.

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  17. I get like this with music. Sometimes I find I'm just listening to music that I know will work at a certain gig. I may not like it but have to listen to again and again to hear whether it will flow in the mix etc.

    I realise I'm spending all my time analysing music rather than just listening and enjoying it.

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  18. Joe: I can sympathize with you on that.

    I played the clarinet for about 6 years while in school (4th grade through sophmore year in high school) and sometimes I catch myself paying attention more to the back beat of a given song and how it's played than listening to the song for the pure enjoyment of it.

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G. B. Miller

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