Sunday, March 29, 2015

Reading Lulls are No More


As of late, I have been thinking about how my patterns of reading have changed, and not changed, over the years. Reading is my lifelong hobby. I have almost always been consistent reader. Yet there have been times where I must admit that I have gone into lulls. Despite what I label as “lulls,” there have never really been very long stretches of time when I did not read.

However, there were times that, like most readers, I would go into shorter slumps. These have been stretches of a few months, during which I did not read much. Of course, during periods when my education preoccupied my time, my reading would slow to a crawl and sometimes stop altogether. I will admit, however, that at other times I neglected my studies in lieu of doing some reading for pleasure.

There have been reasons other than education for these short reading slumps.  I recall that when I first discovered the Internet, I did not read books for a couple of months. It was during this time when I wondered if I would ever begin heavy reading again. Ultimately, the allure of the digital world was, in the end, no match for my persistent desire to delve into the intricate details and ideas contained in real books. After a few months, I returned to my lifetime hobby.

These days, with reading time as a premium, these non-reading lulls have entirely disappeared from my life. Due to this scarcity of reading time I have not gone into a slump for years. Instead, I hunger for more hours to read.

The other thing that I do now that I never did in previous years is read two books simultaneously. I recall that when I attempted this years ago, I would invariably neglect one book for the other. The more interesting tome would get the most attention, and the less interesting one would be so neglected. Thus, it became impossible to maintain a coherent train of thought on the neglected book’s contents. Once again, that problem has disappeared, and I find that I can easily apportion my time between almost any pair of books. If I am going a little slower on one, as opposed to the other, I will usually just speed up on the one, after I complete the more interesting work. Though my ongoing plan is to read one fiction and one non-fiction book simultaneously, it does not always work out that way. I often find myself reading two fiction or two non-fiction books together.


My reading patterns have changed quite a lot over the years. Obviously, external factors have played a good part in this. I wonder how they will be changed when I look back again in twenty to thirty years. I think however, that it is likely that I will still be reading as much as time permits, which will not be enough.

38 comments:

Bellezza said...

"Instead, I hunger for more hours to read." Exactly! If only we didn't need to sleep! Go to work! Make dinner! No, I exaggerate. But, I concur: I hunger for more hours to read as well.

However, I doubt that I could read two books at the same time with much alacrity. I do that at school, of course, when I read to my classroom after lunch every day. And, I read the Bible every day. So those are two things which I add to the novel in my hand. But, I don't think I could add another novel and reap the benefits.

Let me know how you do.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Bellezza - Thanks for stopping by.

I must confess that I have been cutting into my sleep every day to read.

I would defiantly consider reading the Bible to be a second track of reading.

I also usually read my "second book" in different circumstances. During lunch is one of those circumstances. I think out patterns are not thatdifferent.

Suko said...

Brian Joseph,

Interesting post today! I've had reading lulls as well, times when it has been next to impossible to read much, due to various reasons. Sometimes, reading feels like a luxury that is just out of my reach. So many books, so little time. I do want to read more, which will be possible if I learn to waste less time. :)

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Suko - The word "luxury is a good one in relation to reading time. I also agree, if there were not so many books to read it would not be so bad.

JacquiWine said...

It's interesting to reflect on how our reading tastes and patterns change have changed over the years (especially in light of advances in digital technology). I've been trying to 'protect' time for reading physical books, perhaps a couple of hours each day when I try to avoid other distractions. It can vary though depending on work and other commitments, but I find myself getting restless if I don't have enough time to read!

Caroline said...

my tastes chnage constantly but I don't think I've ever been in a real slump. I have novel/fiction slumps but the I'll just pick more non-fiction and the other way around but it never affects reading in general.
Like you I've never read books in parallel but I've started it now. When the books are very different it works well.

Delia (Postcards from Asia) said...

I'm with you here - not enough time to read, life always gets in the way. I've been so engrossed in a trilogy lately that my writing has suffered. But then this trilogy is so good, I'm actually glad when I wake up in the middle of the night and can't go back to sleep because - more reading time!

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Jacqui - It is interesting how you are segregating E - Reader time from old fashioned type book time. I tend to see al reading as the same. I know many folks who see it as you do.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Caroline - I did not delve into it, but there have been times when I have been reading just fiction and I was thud in a non fiction slump.

Like my other reading slums it has been awhile and I have been reading both consistently over the past several years.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Delia - You allude to my classic Dilemma. That is wether to read more or blog more.

I too have had similar reading experiences involving lack of sleep.

JaneGS said...

I don't think I've ever gone through a time when I wasn't reading at least one book, although my lulls have been more in genre. I actually went through a phase when I never read novels, just non-fiction.

Like you, I used to read one book at a time, but now I really like the multiple book and slower pace approach.

Read on!

Brian Joseph said...

Hi jane - It seems that for many of us, the two book at a time pattern has worked better as we get older.

As i mentioned above. I have definitely gone into lulls when it has come to nonfiction.

Lindsay said...

Great post Brian, it's interesting to read how you see your reading patterns and the changes you've noticed. I find it frustrating when I have a reading slump and am grateful that so far this year I haven't had a bad one. Frustrating because there are so many books I want to read. I think finding that special time to read becomes increasingly important.

HKatz said...

I liked reading your thoughts on these patterns.

One of the reasons I started reading short stories regularly a few years ago, was the lack of time and attention I could give to longer works. So short stories gave me the chance to sample many authors and dip into many different worlds and think of a range of ideas, but in a more manageable way time-wise. I read a greater number of books now, but have still hung onto short stories for all their possibilities. Sometimes patterns introduce you to new types of writing or new ways of experiencing good writing.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Lindsay - Even without the slumps it is frustrating as I have trouble with an ever expanding TBR!

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Hila _ Your comment reminds me that I need to read more short stories. Though I have read them, my lack of time spent reading them is a gap in my reading pattern.

James said...

You have an interesting approach to reading. I tend to keep multiple books going at the same time. Most I finish but some drop off. I also mix fiction and non-fiction.
With several groups and a class the only thing that I miss is free time to read even more books. But that seems to be one of the disadvantages of being a compulsive reader.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi James - It seems to be a rare thing for me these days to stop a book in the middle.

It is amazing how many folks have decried a lack of reading time.

Parrish Lantern said...

one of the reasons I Started my blog was a reaction to a reading slump & finding a writer who got me out of it. As to reading 2 books at once I've normally got a novel & a book of poetry on the go at the same time.

The Bookworm said...

Hi Brian. It's interesting to reflect on ones reading patterns. I find that whatever is going on in my life affects my reading. If I am upset or worried about something, I cannot focus on reading at all.

Like you mention, when education preoccupies my time I neglect my reading for pleasure. Sometimes however, assigned reading for class is fascinating. Last semester I read some of Gladwell's The Tipping Point when referencing broken windows theory and I've since added Gladwell's book to my wishlist.

I also find that now I treasure my reading time even more and I'm trying to stray away from reading anything that is not worth my while. I am becoming a more picky reader and tend to dissect the books I read. I question the characters actions and motives.

Thanks for the interesting post!

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Scott - I find that a book of poetry works perfect as a 2nd book.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Naida- When I am worried or stressed I find that I also cannot concentrate on reading.

Classes and the assigned books can indeed be very interesting. I discovered some of my favorite authors that way.

I have gone beyond picky and moved into complete snob territory when it comes to reading.

Tracy Terry said...

Like yourself and I suspect lots of other readers my reading has seen peaks and troughs over the years. I've never been one for having more than one book on the go though. Perhaps just not good at multi tasking, its just not something I find myself doing.

bookaroundthecorner said...

Hi Brian,

Indeed our reading patterns change but not our appetite for books.

Life throws things in the way of our reading time and we never have enough.

Did blogging change your reading ways? I think it changed mine.

I also read two books at a time, usually one in French and one in English.

Emma

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Tracy - Your comment about multi tasking made me laugh as I am very bad at it also. I guess that reading is the one exception for me. With that, for years I was only able to read one at a time.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Emma - The French/English thing is so interesting!

Blogging did change my reading patterns. Since it actually takes some time from many reading it makes time more precious and I believe it has contributed in eliminating the lulls.

Also, as much as I like to say that blogging does not influence what books I read, I must admit it does so occasionally. What books I actually read will be the subject of a future post.

Guy Savage said...

When I attended university, I would look over at my fiction books and think I'd get to them on the next break.

Yes as you say, reading patterns change. I read two at a time now as I prefer to read something a bit more peaceful (no crime) before bed. I've noticed that when I don't like a book much, it really drags...

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Guy - I still look at books and say that I will get to them at a certain point. Sometimes I never do!

Reading a non crime book before sleep sounds like a great strategy for a second reading track.

Harvee Lau - Book Dilettante said...

It's nice to get into a pattern of reading. Such a wonderful and pleasurable activity, isn't it?

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Harvee - It has been my number one hobby throughout my life.

So many books, so little time said...

I think we have all went through wee lulls, mine is really just when essays and exams are looming however I still need a book on the go. Cannot imagine not reading and I hate having more than one book on the go but have done that a few times in the past.

Is that a cat post the books are on?

Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Lainy - Academic pursuits do indeed get in the way of reading. I think that I completed my very last class about for years ago so hopefully that will never be a problem for me again.

That is indeed a scratching post for my cat Truffle.

Maria Behar said...

It's great that you no longer have to deal with reading lulls, and are now able to read two books side by side!

My current problem with reading is that I start one book,then find another one that speaks to one of my interests or concerns, and so I switch to reading THAT book. So I really can't read two books at the same time. I will stop reading one of them, and concentrate on the other, until yet ANOTHER book catches my interest! This is a recent development that was very common for me years ago. I thought I had conguered it, but apparently not....

During the move, I became aware of all the fascinating books I own that I haven't read yet, so now I'm feeling overwhelmed! I have picked up several books since the move, and read the first chapter of each of them, wanting to really dive in and continue. But it seems that one interesting book led to another..... Officially, I'm reading "The Psychology of Twilight", but it's going slowly because of all this other "book interference"! Lol.

So right now, this is an ongoing issue for me. Compounding the problem is that I'm supposed to be reading a book titled "Pirate's Alley", because I signed up to review it for a blog tour in May. Yeah, I know I should be reading the books I already own, but this one looked SO good, I just couldn't pass it up! And, incredibly enough, I'm reading a PDF copy sent to me by the blog tour company! It's an ARC, too, so you KNOW I will want to get the print copy in the future....

In short, I need to deal with this problem, because it's preventing me from REALLY immersing myself in a book. Like every diehard bookworm, I consider the process of getting lost in a book to the exclusion of the rest of the world one of life's GREATEST pleasures! So I need to do something about this little problem I'm currently having (which is really not so little, after all).

So CONGRATS to you for being able to enjoy your books without too many interruptions, whether inner or outer!

Thanks for the great post!! : )

Brian Joseph said...

Thanks Maria – The big downside to the end of reading lulls is that sometimes I have almost no time to read.

The ability to read two books together in an advantage however. There was a time when I had the same issue as you, I would lose interest in one book and focus on the other. That issue has happily disappeared.

Though I usually do not lose interest in a book in the middle, I also had the issue of losing interest in the next planned book before I begun it. That book would get put aside, often for years. I now usually only buy new books very close to the time that I am going to read them. This seems to have worked.

‘Book interference” is such a witty term! Good luck with your reading. Hopefully you can get some traction soon.

Violet said...

There is never enough time for reading! I tend to read 8-10 books at once, so it takes me forever to finish anything. Plus, I have massive reading slumps where I can't concentrate on reading for weeks, sometimes months. I wish I had more time to read when things are going well, but there is always something else that needs doing. It's all a bit frustrating, really.

I'm glad you're still engaged with reading and enjoying it so much. Like you, reading has been a constant in my life, but sometimes I wonder if being on the internet has changed my brain somehow and made me more prone to distraction. It feels that way.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Violet -m

8 to 10 books at one time is indeed impressive. I suppose that even though progress is slow, you are likely to be finishing books fairly regularly.

The internet has definitely slowed down my reading and due to distractions.

Sharon Henning said...

How did I miss this post? Am I not subscribed to your blog anymore? Need to check that out since I haven't gotten any of your posts in my inbox lately.

Anyway, I think that our reading habits are very interesting. I used to be a one book at a time person. Only fiction -never nonfiction- and I would savor the story as long as possible.

Now I read around 5 books concurrently and mostly read non fiction. I couldn't read fiction like that. I do still read one fiction book at a time. Non fiction is just a matter of devouring information.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Sharon - No problem with the posts.

Sometimes there are problems with email I believe that my email systems at times but I believe that mine is working. Please ;et me know if you continue to have difficulties.

I do find that some non fiction books are so well written that they really do go beyond just provided information.