The reading rut to end all reading ruts

Desperate times over here. I’ve hit a reading rut and cannot seem to claw my way out of it. Honest to God, hand to heart, this is a real source of negativity for me at the moment.

I haven’t always been a reader. I skated through high school and much of college taking in just enough of my assigned reading to fake-it-til-you-make-it on the tests. It wasn’t pretty, but it worked.

In undergrad, I took an African Politics class. One of the assigned readings was a book with the mouthful of a title of “We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families” by Philip Gourevitch. It was a non-fiction account of the Rwandan civil war written in conversational style by a journalist. While it’s hard to draw a connection between the monstrously important content of the book and my reading habit, nonetheless here we are: Reading that style of work felt important and interesting to me, and from there I had my niche.

I would later move on to titles like Killing Pablo by Mark Bowden and Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol. I wasn’t moving quickly in my reading, but I had found a style that worked for me: Magazine-like writing telling an important story about humanity.

From there I transitioned to historical fiction with an occasional, cautious foray into the straight fiction section (A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving particularly carried me through some tough times).

And then a few years ago, I stumbled onto the Modern Mrs. Darcy blog and her infectious enthusiasm lit a fire in my reading life. I quickly realized that, like with most things, I enjoy onslaughts of something rather than a dribble. This as true with learning Spanish, starting an exercise habit, and learning how to cook. I grow the most when I’m drinking from the proverbial fire hydrant.

So it was that last year I read a record 65 books. No record as far as the Internet is concerned, I realize, but nonetheless an awesome year of thoughts, stories, and escapism. It was an epically good reading year by my historical standards, and a habit I desperately want to keep up.

But now … I’m not sure what the problem is. I’ve started and foregone a dozen or so books. Every time I do this, I’m reminded of The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah, which I nearly gave up at 40% complete and thank goodness I didn’t: It’s one of my all-time favorite books.

There’s no conclusion to this post, really. Just thoughts on a problem I don’t yet know how to solve. Wish me luck.

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