blytheI’ve heard of reading slumps before. I mean, I’ve been at this for awhile now. Others have written about them at length, both on our news blog and at LLB’s old At the Back Fence column. But until now, I’ve never had one. Really. I’ve gone stretches where I struggled to find time to read, but that isn’t really the same thing as not wanting to. And right now, I don’t want to.

This is absolutely unheard of in my life. The only thing that even comes close would be my college years, when I was so busy reading history that I had very little time to read for pleasure. Even then, I read like a fiend during my breaks. This? Well, it’s different. I haven’t finished a book since November. I haven’t started a book since then either. I’m not sure how to change that or when it will change.

Why, you might ask? Well, it’s definitely related to my divorce and life changes, because my reading struggles date from exactly that point. In fact, while I finished a book in November, that was the first one I’d read since September. My reading pace slowed down to glacial when my life turned upside down. While that sounds completely dramatic – maybe even catastrophic – the truth is that it’s been exactly the opposite. I’ve never been happier. But at the same time, I’ve never been so unmotivated to read. I find it somewhat hard to explain the why of it all. The short version is that I have a) filled my life with about a hundred other things and b) can’t concentrate. But it’s more than that somehow too.

What have I been doing with myself, you may ask? Well, while you have all been reading good books, I have been:

1) Quitting my job. Not here at AAR, of course, but my job that paid the bills, or at least part of them. I was a full time retail manager, and about the first thing I knew going into a divorce was that my job was no longer going to work for me. You would think that someone who quit working full time would have plenty of time to read! But I promptly filled my life with other things like…

2) School. And to be fair, I have read for school. I started a paralegal program, which I really enjoy. In fact, if I never needed to work and could just go to school forever, I think I would like that job. Let me know if there is any money or future in getting a PhD that you have absolutely no intention of using. I’m guessing not, but you never know. I’d probably still have some reading time if I hadn’t started…

3) Training. I figured since I wasn’t working crazy retail hours, I should probably run a half marathon. I’d been wanting to do that for awhile, but couldn’t fit it into my schedule. But I started running farther and faster as a natural development from the divorce. I am a person who thinks and processes in motion, and I had a lot to think and process. So suddenly instead of running three miles I was running six and seven, without even trying to. I figured if I was already doing that, I was half way through half marathon training! What’s 13.1 miles anyway? Well, it’s actually kind of hard, and those long runs take awhile. And no, I don’t want to hear audiobooks while I run; I prefer loud music with lots of swear words. But maybe I’d still have time if I hadn’t started…

4) Dating. I did…really. When I was ready, I was ready. And it didn’t take me long to be ready. I really wish I could tell you the stories. I actually considered starting an anonymous blog because some of the stuff that happened was so funny. Let’s just say that I actually found dating pretty easy, time-consuming, and distracting. But I have no idea how people did it before the advent of the internet. I started dating in December and felt more or less like I had fallen down a rabbit hole. I mean, I married at nineteen, and dated very little before then. So this was a really new experience, and it was fun. But not conducive to reading. Since dating was fun, I really thought I would do it for some time. I didn’t have a timeline exactly; I just knew I probably wouldn’t focus on just one man. Until…

5) Yep, you guessed it. I focused on just one man. I so was not planning on that, but when you meet someone and are suddenly completely uninterested in anyone else with a Y chromosome, well, you focus on just one man. I know what you are wondering: Is he a sheriff?. Surprisingly, no. I mean, I was under the impression that sheriffs were my only option. But silly me! Even a romance reader in the middle of a slump should know there are also former special-ops certified marines out there. No, I’m not making that up; he really is. It’s pretty funny, because my ex is a CFO, and I thought that was my type. This is different. Different in a good way.

That’s the big stuff, but I also am juggling kids (a son graduating from high school), family, moving, track meets, and band competitions. I do, in theory, have time to read. But when I try to actually do it I have trouble focusing. I’ve read no review books for months, and I haven’t finished any of my book club books either. What I have read are lots of text messages and about a gazillion perfume reviews, because I suddenly got into perfume. My ex didn’t care for it, and one man I dated suggested that I might consider whether I liked it. I thought he had a point, so I started experimenting and reading perfume reviews. I hadn’t worn perfume since I was a teenager, so I knew nothing. The reviews suited my limited attention span because they were short and surpassingly entertaining. (In case you are similarly inclined, I like Fragrantica, Perfume Posse, and Makeup Alley).

So where does that leave me now? I am used to being the one who tells people what to read, but right now the tables have turned. What have you read that is so engaging that it could unslump even a distracted, scattered book reviewer? And while I’m at it, does anyone have a good (probably non-romance) book club idea?