It’s not you, it’s me, I whisper to Uncanney Valley before putting it on the “read” side of my shelf with forty pages left to go.
If you, too, have picked up a book you’d normally like and felt completely disinterested, or read pieces of six different books and not felt grabbed by anything, or looked at your shelf and felt distinctly apathetic, you might be in a reading slump.
They can come on when you’re too busy to read or when you’ve been reading too much. Or maybe you’ve read too much of a certain kind of book. Or it’s just that the seasons are changing and therefore so are you.
Every reading slump is different and needs a different salve, but I believe there’s always one perfect book that can bring you back, remind you why you love reading so much.
If you, too, have found yourself in a mid-February slump, here are some books that might help.
If you just really need to
Weather by Jenny Offill
If you’ve spent the last few weeks picking up and putting down books that just aren’t doing it for you, the antidote is a book that you can (and want to) read straight through with breaks only to get a snack and a glass of wine. In that vein, you won’t do much better than Weather.
Jenny Offill is a master of short and sweet. Her novels are written in little pieces that she calls constellations that connect into a beautiful story, and her narrators are smart and relatable and very funny.
If you need something
a little unexpected...
The Complete Stories of Leonora Carrington
If you just want to do some reading, any reading, I’d go for a short story. Even better if it’s less than ten pages long.
The Complete Stories of Leonora Carrington are short and fantastically weird. Carrington is a surrealist and almost all her stories feature strange part-animal, part-human creatures that seem plausible, and situations that read like they were dreamed up yesterday, not almost 100 years ago. They’re all vivid colors and darkness, food and feathers, decadent rooms and sprawling, meticulous landscapes. They’re the kind of stories that make you consider having a kid just to tell them before bed, even if many of them could inspire nightmares.
If you need something
that really grabs you...
The Seas by Samantha Hunt
Sometimes you need a narrator to grab you by the collar and say “if I’m going through this, you’re coming with me.” For that, you can’t do much better than The Seas.
If you’re burnt out on
for the moment…
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
Sometimes the discourse around books makes me feel like I’m trapped in an endless Instagram feed. I love new releases and brand new hardcovers and hype, but too much of that can make me feel like I’m reading what the algorithm wants me to read. The best way I know to break that mindset is to read something old and good.
If you know you need to read something that is objectively great, a book like The Age of Innocence is perfect. If you’re willing to take more of a risk, you get bonus points for reading something you’ve never heard someone talk about. Go to the acknowledgements of a book by your favorite author or read a few interviews and find a name they reference that isn’t familiar to you, then read something by that person. There’s nothing better than a personal literary scavenger hunt.
If you need a palate cleanser…
pick up a journal
Sometimes I read too many books too quickly and they all start to blur together in an unhappy mass. When that happens, I need to reset so I can go into the next book fresh. I like to reset with journals. They take reading out of plot and character and push you back to the pace of the day-to-day. My favorites are Susan Sontag’s journals, Reborn is the first one, and Anaïs Nin’s, I’m on Volume Two.