I enjoy many different book genres. If you only read one genre that is kinda like limiting yourself to one ice cream flavor. I mean wouldn’t you get tired of chocolate or whatever after awhile. You would totally get burned out on that flavor. It would lose all the things that you loved about it. There are genres that I do not read; for example, romance. OMG, I hate romance novels. Okay maybe hate is too strong a word, I dislike romance novels. The bodice ripping and quivering members are too much for my taste. Hey some people like them. My grandma for instance that is all she read. But then again I didn’t see her reading a lot…hmm but I digress.
Genre burn out is a thing I am totally convinced it is real, but here is the thing I think it could possibly lead to the dreaded reading slump. That is right folks, reading slump. I think the answer to this may be genre hopping. Take for instance my favorite genre horror. I love horror….specifically zombie books. I have loved zombies since for as long as I can remember. After the explosion of World War Z there was a proliferation of zombie novels, novellas and short stories. I gorged myself on long, short, good and bad 24×7 zombie reading. However, I started to feel like uhhhh not another outbreak/comet/random gene mutation gone awry, watch friends die, hole up, fight other survivors and end up victorious novel. I felt like I was reading the same damn story (the trope is strong in the zombie genre). So I did something very uncharacteristic, I stopped reading for about three months. Now, I have never stopped reading for a weekend let alone three months. This was the great zombie burn out of 2016. I was bereft and beside myself. I longingly looked at pictures of people reading on the internets and I tried to read but I just couldn’t. It was horrible…..the worse three months of my life. I was a former shell of my vibrant self.
Picture this burned out book nerd walking through the Barnes and Noble NOT BUYING ANYTHING. Nothing…no TBR…no new release excitement nothing. I came home sullen and in even more of a funk then I was before I left. I walked over to my bookshelves and with the last ounce of book love I could muster; I picked up Madame Bovary by Flaubert. Sat down and started to read. I didn’t have to force myself and all of a sudden (queue harps and cherubs) my reading slump was over. I went on to finish Flaubert and picked up a couple more classics and speed through them. But this time, once I was done with like the third or fourth classic I stopped. I decided to pick up something in a different genre. And I kept reading.
I thought about this for a time and I finally figured out why I had never been in a reading slump before. I was constantly switching up what I was reading until the zombie take over of 2013-2016. I mean serious three years of just zombies…yeah I was out of my mind. I still have yet to read any zombie books since the great zombie burn out of 2016 but I have learned something way more important I need to switch genres when the genre I am reading gets to be a bit to much. I bounce from speculative fiction to YA fantasy to dark humor to thrillers to short stories and I find that my palette is always cleansed. No need to go into a reading slump.
So the next time you are reading slump step away from the genre and try something a bit different.
As I was driving to Krispy Kreme this morning (don’t judge). I was thinking about how international reading is. I was looking at my bookshelves thinking: Norway, Russia, France, Ancient Greece, England, America, Italy and Japan. All these books were written in different countries and many at different periods in human history.
The oldest book in this stack is The Republic by Plato written in Ancient Greece and then translated countless times over the centuries. In it’s pages you get to learn about Plato’s society. So in essence you are traveling back in time, without the use of a tardis or a wobbly wobbly timey wimey thing. (Yeah I love Dr. Who). Or just in that stack of books you can travel to feudal Norway with Kristin Lavrandatter. The book was written much later but you still get a understanding what Norway and the social structure was like in the 1620s. Or take for instance Madame Bovary I got a very small glimpse into the life of a very unhappy women in France during the 1850s. I’ve been privileged enough to be all these different people.
I love each of these books for that reason. I got to time travel and travel outside of my own country and in my head experience so many different lives. Even at the ripe ole age of 41 I still find books amazing. They can take you wherever and whenever you want to go.
2017 was a good reading year for me. I didn’t read a lot of new releases last year. I also read some pretty horrible zombie novellas but they had their place. The books in my top 5 are stories that stayed with me all year. Without further ado here is my top 5:
5. Madame Bovary By Flaubert – This was the first time I had read Madame Bovary and I got to tell you this book is extremely relevant in todays society. It occurs to me as I talk with friends or surf around on the internet people fill voids in their life with stuff. A good chunk of the stuff does not belong to them but rather their creditors. For me the story mirrors a lot of the people I know.
4. Deathless By Catherynne Valente – I loved Deathless. It was one of those stories that swept you off your feet and transported you to the world of Koschei and Marya. The imagery that Valente used throughout the story was amazing. The scenes of Russia during the war were heartbreaking but beautifully written. It also dredges up the idea that as society moves forward the old myths and folklore don’t always necessarily move forward and they die. I keep hoping some night a domovaya comes out from behind my stove.
3. Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset – This book is epic literally. Originally there were three books in the trilogy; however they were combined in to one large tome by Penguin Classics. The books follow Kristin and her journey from being a girl to an old women. This book basically kicked off my love of Norwegian literature. I went on to buy some of the other books by Sigrid Undset. Kristin story is sad at times and happy at times.
2. Ready Player One By Ernest Cline – I was a kid in the 80’s. I grew up during the technological boom so video games hold a special place in my heart. Ready Player One made me nostalgic with all the pop references. It is a fast pace read with so many pop culture references I felt like the book was written for me. Once I found out that Will Wheaton narrated the audiobook I had to listen to that as well.
1. The Bear and the Nightingale By Katherine Arden – If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you will know how much I love The Bear and the Nightingale. I gush about this book and recommend it to anyone who is looking for a new book to read. I picked up The Bear and the Nightingale after a book hangover from Deathless. Reading it was like being wrapped in a warm and cozy blanket. Katherine’s style of writing is beautiful and flowing. As with Deathless the theme of losing old ways isn’t necessarily a good thing.
I highly suggest picking up any of these wonderful stories. They may open up a new genre for you or just leave you with a happy feeling.
My family was large by todays standards. My brothers and sisters were much older then I was, by the time I was in first grade I was basically an only child. Therefore; I spent a lot of time on my own and my love of reading blossomed from there. My first reading memory was sitting on the floor in the dining room reading the Tawny Scrawny Lion by Kathryn Jackson I must have been in Kindergarten. I still love the story of those generous and cunning rabbits.
I felt so grown up sitting on the floor with my back pressed against the wall with my book. I have other wonderful memories of trawling through a bookstore with my dad and coming home with this beautiful book.
The Magical Rainbow Man and the Journey of Love I can’t tell you how many times I read this book. The illustrations are beautiful and to me it was magical. I have wonderful memories of these books. These books were my friends. Reading filled the hours of dinners out with my parents, car rides and other events. After reading Pipi Longstocking I was going to run away with my books and doll to Villa Villekulla. I got as far as the backyard but it was an adventure just like Pipi would have taken. When asked what my favorite hobby was I always said reading. There is a meme that I always find funny, I was the kid that got in trouble for reading in school. I would hide my book in my desk and would read during lessons especially on library day.
During my pre-teen and teenage years, it wasn’t cool to be a reader, but I wore my nerd badge proud. Yeah I was that girl in your English class that ACTUALLY did the assigned reading and participated in the class discussions. I shared my heartbreaks and triumphs of Jr. High and High School with Ann Rice, Stephen King and VC Andrews. Later in my high school career Poe, Russell and Shelly. They seemed to speak to my teenage self.
As I got older my relationship with reading didn’t change. I believe that it intensified as I matured. Looking back I always had a book with me and I still do. Family gatherings would find me in a room or a chair somewhere away from my very loud extended family. Reading gave me just enough downtime to rest up from all the socializing going on around me. Books offered solace through a divorce, family deaths, breakups and the stress of being a young parent. I’ve read in hospital waiting rooms, airports, funeral homes, lawyers offices, trains and buses. Books have been my constant friend and companions. The stories they hold have walked beside me through my entire life.
So I guess the question should be instead why not reading?
There aren’t many books that I can say have stolen my heart. A book that is so beautifully written that it stays with me for months after I’ve read it. The Bear and the Nightingale is absolutely one of those stories. I have to say this is the best book I read in 2017. I am still gushing over this book. I loved the story and the writing style so much I left a little note in the library copy.
I didn’t realize until I started following Katherine Arden on Twitter that the story was going to be a trilolgy. The day The Girl in the Tower was released I rushed to my local independent bookshop 10 mins before closing and grabbed the last copy on the shelves.
Patience may be a virtue but it isn’t one of mine. However, I have not yet read The Girl in the Tower yet. I am saving it until I finish War and Peace. I want to savor it over a weekend with a lovely slice of cake and tea. I am not going to write a review for The Bear and the Nightingale I am sure you can tell how much I love this book. I will be writing a review of The Girl in the Tower once I have read it.
I have a confession to make! I have been having one night stands and by that I mean book one night stands. The literary equivalent to hit it and quit it. I am going to blame it on the library. I love the library. I mean I really love the library. I love the smell of the books, walking up and down the aisles not looking for anything in particular. Just the feeling that I can reach out and pick up and amazing adventure. Sounds awesome right; as much as I love the library itself the reaching out and picking up an adventure is slightly hit and miss. So much so, I have been known to check a book out and not read it. Sacrilege! I can’t help it. I read the back cover and I truly believe I am going to love the book. It is going to completely change my life as a reader. Yeah..no. I end up reading a couple of pages and doing the walk of shame away from the book bin.
The latest victim to my hit it and quit it book one night stand was “Blood on the Snow” by Jo Nesbo. I read about 10 pages and that was it. I put it down and dropped it off at the library last night. I just was not into the story, nor was I invested in the characters. As much as I wanted to like the story I just couldn’t. I have a category on my good reads devoted to just my book one night stands. I look at this category and think to my self, why? Do any of these books have anything in common: theme, authors, genre? I can say with conviction, that none of these books have anything in common. Personally, I am just going to continue to blame it on the library and getting book drunk. If you want to see my book one night stand you can have a look on my good reads.