Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Slump

I know you've gone through them--those periods when nothing on your TBR stack is catching your fancy; when none of the hundreds of books you have seem appealing; when every book you do manage to read leaves you profoundly underwhelmed. Or maybe you don't, but it seems to be a regular thing for me. I'm going through a slump right now and it's not because I'm not reading good books. I've read a lot in the past couple of weeks that I know, objectively, are good books. The problem is that the only books giving me profound feelings are the ones that I want to fling at the wall and then jump up and down on in anger and frustration. And, I hate this feeling. I hate feeling like I'm reading books because it's habit and not because there's something that I just can't wait to get to. And even the books I've been excited by haven't lingered with me for long, no matter how good they were from an objective point of view.

I want something that makes my heart sing. Or that makes me laugh out loud. Or that makes me weep like my world is ending. I want to feel big, teenager emotions. I want book crush. I want to feel the way I did when I first read Andrew Smith's Winger or Ernest Cline's Ready Player One or Neil Gaiman's American Gods or Lish McBride's Hold Me Closer, Necromancer or any of the myriad other books that have made me give a little squeal of happiness and hug them to my chest and maybe do a little happy dance around the apartment (though I admit to nothing).

And it's not the books, it's me. I know that. I mean, one of the books I just finished was Scott Westerfeld's upcoming Afterworlds which is really fucking good. I could write a wordy discourse on its razor-sharp observations on publishing and its keen insights into the life of a writer and its seamless integration of two separate novels into a cohesive whole and how perfectly it captures the highest highs and lowest lows of that first young love. But, I can't rhapsodize over it like a teenager discovering John Green for the first time. I'll be recommending it to friends and colleagues and my sixteen-year-old niece, but my skin won't flush and my eyes light up with evangelical zeal when I do. Which is not due to any shortcoming of the book itself. I'm just feeling oddly flat about everything I read right now.

Have you ever felt that way? I'd think it was symptomatic of something deeper, but it's only books that are leaving me (not) feeling this way. Movies, TV shows, toy-like things, really good stinky cheese--any of these can still make me giddy and excited and desirous of sharing my "discovery" with everyone who crosses my path. It's just books.Maybe I need to go back and re-read some old stand-bys. Maybe that would shake me out of my slump. Or maybe I need to read a book that I know I'll enjoy but that I can read completely non-critically. (Mmmmm...brain candy.)

Or maybe I'll never have that giddy, book-crush feeling again. Maybe I'm doomed to a life of readerly maturity. Maybe I'm becoming,,,a critic.

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