Thursday, 16 April 2015

Reading Funk

Just read a post by the clever Jenna Burtenshaw in which she uses the phrase 'Reading Funk', and wonders which book might jolt her out of it. It's such a great phrase for that very moment - familiar to all obsessive readers - of being cheesed off and not knowing where to turn in a world of too many bookish options. There's so much out there - but nothing seems like exactly the *right* thing just now...
I've had this countless times in my reading life. I've never thought my reading stamina was all that great, in fact, despite the amount I *do* read. I have to be *thrilled* by what I'm reading more or less most of the time and if i'm not and it starts to feel like a chore - then me and that book have to have a quiet word.
The worst bad patch I remember was spring 2004 and I had a run of duff reads. It was A L Kennedy (bless her - I'm sure she's good really) who made me fling a book across the room (it was so exhaustively, endlessly, comprehensively miserable) and give up. And I stopped reading for three weeks. The thought I was left with was - 'What's the point? It's just prying into other's people's upsets, fetishes and peculiar thoughts.' Never before had I felt that as strongly. And, three weeks later, it was being in Deansgate Waterstones and picking up the newly-published 'Shadow of the Wind' by Carlos Ruiz Zafon that bust me out of that funk. I took it off to Atlas bar's blue terrace by the railway arches and read - enthralled in a good old mystery - for a whole, sunny afternoon. It was a huge lesson in reading, in giving yourself up to a book, and in learning about how I really needed to mix up the genres I was reading and always take the litfic with a good pinch of pulp. Also, zigzag from genre to genre with each change of book.
You must have had the Reading Funk before. Which book got you out?

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