The Book of LifeI never thought I’d say this, but here’s my answer to the reading slump:  Stop reading.

About three weeks ago, I had a period of major crunching, and for two solid weeks I didn’t read a thing.  My review books lay sulking on the table.  The books I’d borrowed from friends were abandoned.  Comfort reads were no longer a comfort – how could they be, when I couldn’t even face opening their covers?  No newspapers, no magazines, and had the Bernstein Bears appeared I would have shunned them too.  In short, I went into total reading freeze.  For me, that’s huge.

The main reason was simply a question of fatigue – I’ve been too tired to do anything except work, eat, and sleep, emphasis on the latter.  But when it was over, and after getting a solid ten hours of sleep, I successfully opened a book.  And from the ashes arose an interesting realization: I was glad to take a break from reading.  I was satisfied that I had stopped.  I read that book enthusiastically, even though it turned out to be a dud.  I was once again happy in the world of literature.  All because I’d stopped reading.

I suppose coming from a representative (voluntary or otherwise) of a literary publication (online or otherwise), this sounds mighty strange.  But sometimes a clean, temporary break is best.  Most of us have gorged ourselves at some time or other and felt sick afterwards, be it Thanksgiving dinner, Coldplay or Julia Quinn.  I almost killed any enjoyment of Pride and Prejudice when I watched it ad nauseum, day in, day out.  I finally forced myself away, but it sure taught me to take things in small doses.

This particular time, I don’t think I’ve been overdosing on reading or romance novels.  But when I went back after taking a break, I realized I was reading with fresher eyes: Fresh in the sense that I’d been straining them, but I also felt as if I’d come home from vacation.  Home is familiar and comfortable, even though the second stair still creaks or you have to go back to sharing a bed with your sister.  But I also appreciate what I didn’t have for a while, and especially the fact that I have the leisure and ability to return to it.

It’s strange what a change of pace can do, even if it’s as simple as changing a pervasive, lifelong habit such as reading.

-Jean Wan AAR

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